Rose Rodriquez Flag Box

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Project by Woodbutcher3 posted 08-28-2011 02:12 AM 2072 views 8 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Retirement flags are very popular with those retiring from the organization I am blessed to work with – the United States Marine Corps at MARCORSYSCOM, Quantico, VA. Both Military and Civil Service members still hold Patriotism very dear. Very often, they request or one of the retirement organizers arranges to have a flag flown at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington VA., although many refer to it as the Iwo Jima Memorial because of the statue used to represent our history.

So, I am often privileged to make the box, in one form or another, to hold, display, and honor the flag for someone retiring.

In order to do the chip carving on the box, I used butternut. A great friend, a gifted craftsman, and humble man, Nate Johnson, provided the wide board I needed for this project. It stains nicely and has a walnut look to it. Butternut is getting hard to find because of a spreading blight known as Butternut Canker. While a disease resistant variety has been developed, it will be some time before large boards can be commonly found again.

I made a boo-boo, a big one, in carving the lady’s name on the base. I used a previous name to size up the name template for tracing. It was late at night and I did not spell check (duh). So, by the time I had carved a lot of the letters, I suddenly realized I had an extra “I” in the name. If I carved the letters in sequence, it might not have been too bad. But, I carve all the large posts first and then move on to do curves last (that way I am warmed up before tackling the curved sections or letters).

Disaster? night before (late the night before), not enough wood to make a new base, not correctable without major surgery….WHAT TO DO? Well, I cut a small plaque, carved the name and glued it over the first carving. Whewwwww! A little time shot, but a saved project. And everyone loved the added plaque.

Rose had seen a flag case I did for another individual 4 years earlier. Each year she reminded me that she wanted one like it when she retired. She finally has it. On one side is the year she entered Civil Service. On the other side is her retirement year. Her name is on the plate in front.

One of the best things about this project is when I did present it, I suddenly had a whole bunch of new best friends come talk to me about their retirement.

The Build
1) Cut the 3 boards to size and angles. Rout round over on bottom board and sand. Use sharp tools. Butternut can fuzz up cutting against the grain and some times even with the grain in the right direction.
2) Route a groove on each board for the UV protecting Plexiglas front prior to assembly.
3) Carve the pieces. Here’s where I had to add the new name plaque. It was glued and pin nailed over the original carved (mis-carved) name.
4) Wiped down with walnut Wacto. I left the carved side up with a fill of oil to darkened the carved portions. Left it in sit there about 30 mins. and then wiped it down.
5) Glue and pin nail (love that pin nailer!) the upright pieces
6) Route the backing. In order to do this, I use two pieces of wood that have 45 deg angle clamped to the base to wedge and hold the upright piece on the base. This allows me to rout the rabbet on the back for the insert board that holds the flag in. (I should have taken pictures as I built – next time). This also results in three nice rounded corners. A nice finish touch. Doing it this way, I don’t have a whole lot of dust to clean out of the box and off the Plexiglas. A nice plus cuz it always shows up on the flag if done after assembly (experience).
7) Use air to clean off the pieces and tack clothe them.
8) Cut the Plexiglas to size. (I used ¾” in wood for the box, so the grooves are a little over 3/8”deep and 1/8” wide to accommodate the Plexiglas).
9) Assemble wood and insert glass (another Senior moment if you’re not paying attention and leave the Plexiglas out – don’t ask how I know). Pin nail uprights to base.
10) Cut a foam board liner to the inside size of the box. Fit the flag around it and push to front for a flat fit against the Plexiglas. Pack in the rest of the flag.
11) Cut, shape (round corners), and add backing. I like to add the Masonite that has a leather look to it. Looks so much better than luan or other plywood – even birch. Lowe’s and Home Depot carry it. I use counter sunk Brass screws for a nice finished look. (again – pictures next time!)

-- Rod ~ There's never enough time to finish a project, but there's always time to start another one.

4 comments so far

View dustinkester's profile


32 posts in 3653 days

#1 posted 08-28-2011 02:43 AM

This is excellent work. What a great way to use your skills to honor our servicemen and women.

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View rance's profile


4271 posts in 3639 days

#2 posted 08-28-2011 04:47 AM

As always, exceptional work. I like the years down both sides. I think I’ll steal this idea for the flag box I have coming up. Well done(again). You’re right, it looks like Walnut. Nice job with the placement of the starts too.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23193 posts in 3584 days

#3 posted 08-28-2011 05:44 AM

Rod, that is an excellent flag case and another case of woodworker ingenuity. I firmly think that being able to recover well from mistakes is one of the original qualities of a seasoned and successful woodworker. We all do it at one time or another. Whether the piece is finished or firewood is the difference of the recovery quality.
You’ve got it!!!!!!
Very nice job and thanks for explaining the thought process!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View cplant's profile


226 posts in 3042 days

#4 posted 08-29-2011 12:34 PM

nice work….great design

-- "...if america is any indication, i was born into one great big vacation...." RMB

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