Keepsake Box for my daughter's wedding

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Project by Schwieb posted 07-07-2012 01:51 PM 7706 views 9 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This box was made for my wonderful daughter, Laura, as part of my wedding gift to her. It would be used at the wedding reception to receive cards from guests. It partners with a previous post on LJs I wanted it to be something special and it came to me that since both her grandfathers were woodworkers, that using wood that belonged to them would be pretty special. As I thought about it more, I saw it as a means to weave her heritage out of woods that were a part of her history into the gifts. I confess I borrowed freely from some ideas I got from fellow LJs and I acknowledge the inspiration. The box is about 10” x 16” x 6” to give a point of reference.

I had some Black Ash that came from enlarging a window opening in a log cabin that was built by my Great-grandfather around 1870 in NW Ohio. This log cabin still stands and is lived in today, and still in the family. There is a lot of story behind this that I can’t write about here but it seemed the perfect choice to re-saw and use for the main part of the box. It was really fine, tight grained and with a little calculating, I figure the tree began life 250 years ago, that would be around 1760. To honor this tree in this way was a George Nakashima moment for me. I had some beautiful Curly Maple and Walnut that belonged to my Dad, enough to do what I needed. I contacted her Uncle Gilbert, only son of Laura’s other grandfather and also a woodworker. I told him what I was planning and asked him to send me some wood that belonged to his Dad. He found some small pieces of Burr Oak. Keeping with the heritage thought I contacted Thomas (Sodabowski) and he was so kind as to send some wood from France which would connect her French heritage symbolically. Now I just had to figure out how to incorporate all these parts and pieces of wood. I had no plans other than the sketches I made.

There are 3 basic elements, the main box, the top, and the base.

Here is a view of the separate base showing the 1/4” rare earth magnet arrangement, corresponding magnets were set in the bottom of the box. This was more than adequate to hold the base securely and created a secret compartment. I placed some special letters describing the heritage of the woods; what they were; and where they came from, in that compartment and plan to put a copy of this post as well.

I wanted some handles so I decided to turn them as seen here. I used the method of separating the segments with paper and it worked perfectly.

Thomas (Sodabowski) will recognize the Spalted Beech medallion he sent. I had it laser engraved. Hope you don’t take offense to being on the bottom, but everybody looks. I simply could not figure out how to incorporate the rest of the stuff you sent in this project, but I do promise you will see them somewhere in the future.

I developed a stop for the top to rest on when the box was open out of some walnut burl. You can also see the slightly raised lip of Walnut on the inside of the box with a corresponding inset in the top to help it seal, I borrowed this idea from the humidor builders. I planned the layout of this inlay and machined the dado before I assembled and then cut the box apart. Little room for error in doing that.

My photography cannot do justice to the Curly Walnut and Maple, it is simply beautiful. I incorporated the Burr Oak as splines in the corners of the top and base and the Walnut splines in the mitered corners of the box and the corner inset to reinforce the corners and add some contrast. I finished it with several coats of tung oil, light sanding, steel wool and elbow grease between coats. I cannot help but wonder what my Dad would have said about it and if I could coax a compliment out of him.

I submit the last photos out of humility. When you get busy and have a mission, the shop gets messy.

Thank you for looking and comments and critiques.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

24 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117747 posts in 4121 days

#1 posted 07-07-2012 02:26 PM

Wow Ken you hit the mark it certainly is something special .Super photo work up too.

View Dusty56's profile


11852 posts in 4231 days

#2 posted 07-07-2012 04:11 PM

This is just PERFECT in every way , as well as being a beautiful expression of your love : )
Nice job !!
Someday I hope to achieve this skill level !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Dusty56's profile


11852 posts in 4231 days

#3 posted 07-07-2012 04:14 PM

On another note , I forgot to mention how much I like your outfeed / storage/ work bench area : )
Great use of space !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Stephen Fox's profile

Stephen Fox

110 posts in 3938 days

#4 posted 07-07-2012 05:48 PM

Be sure that your daughter has and keeps your description of the building of this box,the materials and history. Too often items with a family history have great stories that get lost over time. I know that if my mother had not done that with some of our family treasures the stories would be gone by now. Great box, greater story.

-- Stephen NYS

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4523 days

#5 posted 07-07-2012 06:19 PM

Hi Ken;

This is really fantastic. I hope your daughter understands just how much she means to you, and appreciates it.

Your work (and shop), is really beautiful.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30462 posts in 2882 days

#6 posted 07-07-2012 06:46 PM

The box is beautiful, the story and effort is more beautiful.

As far as a messy shop, that’s not a mess! I can show you a mess!

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23570 posts in 3649 days

#7 posted 07-07-2012 07:16 PM

Man that is a sweet box. You have such vibrant grain in all the pieces. Great job!!!!!!!!!!
And, I love your shop!!!................Jim

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

View Kookaburra's profile


748 posts in 2768 days

#8 posted 07-07-2012 07:26 PM

I know you are not my dad but my sister Laura is getting married in September. If only I could make her something as special at this. I guarantee that she will cry when you give it to her.

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 3662 days

#9 posted 07-07-2012 07:42 PM

Beautiful box and craftsmanship, many extras make this a real eye catcher, they will treasure this always, Great job, thanks for sharing

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View stefang's profile


16827 posts in 3878 days

#10 posted 07-07-2012 08:41 PM

Another wonderful project for you daughter. I’m sure she will treasure it forever as a symbol of your love for her.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View ruddy's profile


550 posts in 3483 days

#11 posted 07-07-2012 09:20 PM

A great project and an even greater story. Congratulations.

-- And my head I'd be a scratchin'

View sedcokid's profile


2737 posts in 4142 days

#12 posted 07-07-2012 09:29 PM

Oh, Doc….. What a beautiful box and what a history that you gave to your daughter and husband. Your choice of wood and finish is right on!!

Thanks for sharing

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4262 posts in 3105 days

#13 posted 07-07-2012 11:04 PM

Wonderful work. Outstanding on the Curly woods and the Monogram inside too.


-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3234 days

#14 posted 07-08-2012 01:06 AM

A beautiful keepsake that your daughter will treasure forever and a great backstory to go with it. I love the joinery in this box. You are a true craftsman.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Stormy's profile


164 posts in 2741 days

#15 posted 07-08-2012 01:33 AM

Amazing box and what a grand connections with heritage. Winner!!

-- Stormy: Sometimes the wood just tells you what it wants to be.

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