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Project by a1Jim posted 05-29-2012 03:31 AM 9674 views 4 times favorited 101 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi gang!

How this box came about: I had a neighbor drive up in his pick-up and asked me to take a look. I went over to his pick-up and he had 4 slabs of 3” thick by 24 wide by 4-5 ft tall pieces of black walnut with great figure. I told him it was nice wood and asked what he was going to doing with it?” He said he just wanted to know what it was worth. My guess was from $100-$200 each. He asked me if I was interested, I said I didn’t have a lot of wood storage or a lot of money. He said he had lost his storage and he might be interested in a trade. I asked what was he looking for and he said he needed a jewelry box made. Right away I pictured a free-standing case with tons of dovetails, partitions, fancy pulls and claw feet. I said I would be willing to trade, but that he would have to furnish the wood for the jewelry box separately. He agreed and brought me four more pieces of 5ft tall by 24”wide by 1 1/2 “thick walnut and asked if it would do. I said that we would need to discuss the details of the box first. He said it would just need kind of a beveled top and a simple lid with contrasting maple panel, no hinges and about 8”- 10” long and 6” wide and around 4” tall. I asked about a handle for the lid, drawers or dividers and he said no thanks. I told him that this would be a lot different than what I thought he wanted and he said he was willing to throw in some more wood. What he wanted was a lot smaller and simpler than I thought and I was getting the best end of the deal, but this was okay with him. I have to admit, I don’t make many boxes. I thought this would be a slam dunk… a day or so plus finishing.

I don’t have a miter jig for my table saw so right off, I fought the miters on the top and then every piece of molding for the top was blowing up as I routered it. After finally getting the moulding cut for the top and getting the top raised panel made and sanded I shot it with some Seal-a-Cel and set it outside on the canopy of my wife’s little pick-up. After about 10 minutes, after my wife left on some errands, I realized she had taken the little pick-up with the little raised panel on top of it’s canopy. I frantically called my wife and asked if the panel was still on the canopy. Of course it wasn’t. I asked if she would look for it on the way back and she shot off looking for it right away. Little did I know that she would risk life and limb running out in the street in front of on coming log trucks just to retrieve the little raised panel. To my surprise the little raised panel survived being run over with no damage to the top but some road rash on the bottom. After some tweaking on the jointer I was able to save it. There were other mishaps along the way, but after 2 weeks off and on, this little puppy was done and delivered with a very happy neighbor saying at least six times how beautiful the box was.

I will never look at another box on LJs or anywhere else and dismiss it as a quick easy project. I have to chuckle at myself, thinking what my students would think if they were here with me, with all the goofs and mishaps on this so- called simple project.


101 comments so far

View DigitalFabber's profile


95 posts in 4406 days

#1 posted 05-29-2012 03:36 AM


That is a great looking box … the figure in the wood is amazing!

-- Factory in a box ...

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4556 days

#2 posted 05-29-2012 03:43 AM

Well Jim, despite all the problems and frustrations you encountered the box came out fantastic! The wood is absolutely beautiful and your work is 1st class… Now you have the problem of figuring out what to make out of the rest of that walnut.

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


9073 posts in 3825 days

#3 posted 05-29-2012 03:43 AM

Outstanding grain Jim, well done my friend.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5300 days

#4 posted 05-29-2012 03:52 AM

Beautiful wood! Great grain!

Nice job!

COOL box!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Gary's profile


9419 posts in 4681 days

#5 posted 05-29-2012 03:59 AM

He should sure be proud of the deal me made. Great job, Jim If you had a few more routers to choose from, you might have had an easier time with the molding.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 5172 days

#6 posted 05-29-2012 04:06 AM

Nice box and good story.

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3660 posts in 4960 days

#7 posted 05-29-2012 04:20 AM


The box turned out beautiful! (But the swap causes much envy!)

I, too, can agree with you since I just finished my first box as a wedding gift (but will wait until after the wedding to post it). It has been much easier for me to make huge cabinets and furniture (with help from hubby on the lifting) than it was to make a little box. It has certainly caused me to look upon box-makers with a whole new respect!


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View bake's profile


389 posts in 4925 days

#8 posted 05-29-2012 04:30 AM

It is a beautiful box , but with all of the headaches and heartaches I’m not sure you really came out much ahead on the deal.

-- I love the smell of Home Depot in the morning, it smells like.......carpentry. Bake, Bar Lazy U Woodworks, Lehi,UT.

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8303 posts in 4601 days

#9 posted 05-29-2012 04:38 AM

You luck man! Nice job on the box Jim and a great story with a happy ending to boot!

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

View Boxguy's profile


2901 posts in 3515 days

#10 posted 05-29-2012 04:43 AM


I don’t know which one to praise first…the story or the box. First the story. What fun to read about your trials and travials of boxmaking. Two weeks sounds about right. My first box took that and more. The wood on top of the truck was a hoot. As to the box. The wood and craftsmanship are a beauty. But if the rest of the wood is anything like this sample you came out well ahead. Thanks for making my day. I enjoyed seeing your work and reading your tale.

-- Big Al in IN

View Woodbridge's profile


3751 posts in 3666 days

#11 posted 05-29-2012 04:59 AM

Jim, great story and great box. The figure on the walnut is superb. What are your plans for the rest of the walnut? I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View a1Jim's profile


118263 posts in 4825 days

#12 posted 05-29-2012 05:02 AM

Thanks everyone for you kind words.


View Woodenwizard's profile


1369 posts in 4291 days

#13 posted 05-29-2012 05:30 AM

Love the box, and the Walnut is beautiful. What would a project be without a story, just another project.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View grandpasworkshop's profile


344 posts in 5027 days

#14 posted 05-29-2012 05:37 AM

Wow this is beautiful Jim I sure would like for you yo make a few more for your wife’s birthday,wife’s Christmas ,mothers day you get the drift hahah

Good to see your work

-- Grandpaj

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 4104 days

#15 posted 05-29-2012 06:41 AM


great story and a really nice box

Wife deserves a big hug.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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