Boxguy Re-Builds Khufu's Pyramid

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Project by Boxguy posted 05-18-2012 03:29 AM 3758 views 8 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Pictured is a pyramid-shaped urn for the ashes of four Saluki dogs.

The Story: A friend raises and rescues saluki dogs. They are the grayhound-looking dogs you see pictured in the tombs of ancient Egyptians. When her dogs die she has them cremated. She said that she was looking for a suitable urn to store these ashes. Like a fool I said I could make her a box that was shaped like a pyramid and divided internally into four distinct chambers so she could put four sets of ashes into one pyramid. (Remind me to keep my big yap shut in the future!) However, it seemed like such a simple idea at the time. “Easy money”...I thought to myself.

With the help of Mr. Smith’s geometry class from 50 years ago, and a couple of fellow Lumber Jocks, I had a pretty good idea of where to start on the angles and the size. I won’t bore you with the math, but it starts with Khufu’s Pyramid being 440 cubits on each of four sides and 280 cubits tall. It’s all downhill from there.

Techniques and Tips:

The outside triangles: These are cut at 33 degrees. Edges of the triangles are chamfered inwardly at 43 1/2 degrees on all three sides. Though I could cut these as a compound angle, I had better luck not tilting my blade and instead I cut the chamfers on a router table with a 45 degree bit. I raised the triangle up with a scrap board to lessen the angle a little.

Assembly: Clamps are useless here. I put the outside triangles face side up on my glue-up table, aligned them carefully, ran 2 inch masking tape along all the joints, flipped the assembly over, applied Tightbond Trim and Molding glue to the chamfers, brushed it out evenly, then stood the whole thing up, pulled it into a pyramid shape and taped the final joint. After letting this glue set for a day, I added the internal triangles.

Internal Triangles: The inside triangles intersect, align with the corners, and are cut at 49 degrees. These are half-lapped and glued in place with Locktite Glue. This glue comes in a caulking tube, is very thick and dries clear in a day. I rounded off the tops of the internal triangles so they would fit better in the corners. (A short section of 4 inch plastic pipe made a good holder that allowed me to turn the pyramid on its point while the glue set.) So, the internal chambers are sealed at the top.

The bottom: My plan is to put the ashes in, add glue or caulk to the bottom of the intersecting triangles, and screw the bottom board in place. Then I will seal the small crack running around the edges of the bottom board.

Conclusion: Lauan underlayment made a good material for the outside. The grain pattern and color suited me. Once the internal triangles and bottom are affixed, this is an extremely strong configuration. Nothing moves! It was a challenge, but with the angles and design given to you, it will save a lot of time. It took 4 shop days of trial and error to get all the techniques and angles fine tuned. Once that is done, you can make one of these in about an hour, not including drying time for the glue and finish.

Thanks: As always thanks for looking and a special thanks to those who took time to make comments and suggestions.

-- Big Al in IN

12 comments so far

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 3789 days

#1 posted 05-18-2012 03:58 AM

These kind of angled configurations are tough and you did a fine job of it. Good thinking on the shortcuts and assembly aids. Cubits are a bit foreign these days but helping out is always in style.

-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 4073 days

#2 posted 05-18-2012 11:47 AM

Things that make a woodworkers laugh: Clamps are useless here.

It’s common to read “you can never have too many clamps,” but it is rare indeed to see the admission: Clamps are useless here.

Thanks for a nice project.

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8354 posts in 4645 days

#3 posted 05-18-2012 12:33 PM

Your urn turned out very nice! I really enjoyed reading about your project.
I have opened my mouth many times in my life and wish I hadn’t. But I must say my big mouth help me learn more about woodworking and that’s not so bad!
Now I always say “Let me think it over”!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View Bluepine38's profile


3393 posts in 4377 days

#4 posted 05-18-2012 01:17 PM

Wonderful project and learning lesson. Thank you for sharing and making it easier if any of us are unwary
enough to be voluntold into a project.

-- As ever, Gus-the 82 yr young apprentice carpenter

View vonhagen's profile


549 posts in 3657 days

#5 posted 05-18-2012 01:43 PM

what you did with the masking tape is called a miterfold and i use it on very large pieces the trick is to a miterfold bit by amana ,its set at 45.5 degrees but i do mine on a shaper with a lietz adj. cutter head so i can do any angle. the extra .5 degree is for glue space and makes the points gap free. when glueing i only glue 1 bead down the very center and let it squeze out the back. great job

-- no matter what size job big or small do a job right or don't do it at all.

View Boxguy's profile


2905 posts in 3559 days

#6 posted 05-18-2012 02:35 PM


Thanks for the “miterfold” term. I too added a bit of space for glue and fit. I knew someone had to make a tool like you described, but a wood scrap is probably a bit cheaper for a one-of problem. I liked how the tape prevented the glue from squeezing out the front and messing with the paper thin veneer. In the wonderful work and fitting I have seen you doing on your home page I think an adjustable angle shaper would serve you well. I appreciate the comment.

-- Big Al in IN

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4096 days

#7 posted 05-18-2012 03:13 PM

Very interesting.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5510 days

#8 posted 05-18-2012 06:02 PM

This is one of those projects that probably looks fairly simple to a non-woodworker. But WE know better. Great job!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View RickB's profile


48 posts in 4432 days

#9 posted 05-18-2012 09:46 PM

Good job! About two years ago, I was trying to build a pyramid type thing as well. I consider myself very good at math and geometry (engineer by trade). I couldn’t figure the angles out.

View vonhagen's profile


549 posts in 3657 days

#10 posted 05-18-2012 10:22 PM heres the shaper i use

-- no matter what size job big or small do a job right or don't do it at all.

View chopnhack's profile


375 posts in 3686 days

#11 posted 05-19-2012 01:47 AM

Came out professional, great work! Just how big is the pyramid? In inches please :-)

-- Sneaking up on the line....

View CasanovaFrankenstein's profile


31 posts in 2791 days

#12 posted 08-13-2014 02:32 PM

hey that’s pretty cool! You need to make 2 more slightly smaller ones… then align them to Orion.

-- -Kyle

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