The Issue Box

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Project by ShaneA posted 12-23-2012 11:47 PM 3007 views 6 times favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a walnut box I made for my mom as an urn for her recently deceased Black Lab. I have seen this basic design many times before. However, I think it was fellow LJ Yorkshire Stewart who gave me the idea to take it from a blanket chest size project, to a box size project. It is mortice and tenon construction, solid walnut panels.

I had a lot of problems making this box. Not necessarily due to the complexity of the project, but just careless and silly mistakes on my part. First when resawing and planing the figured panels. The panel, more or less, shattered in the DeWalt planer. I thought I had cleared all the debris from the planer, went to turn it back on and…well, it wasn’t good. There must have been some pieces up in the machine. That electrical burning metal smell came jumping out. Still haven’t taken it apart to see the innards and just how bad it is. Then as I was mocking up the top, I thought it looked a little too heavy, so I decided I would put a bevel around the edge to lighten it a bit. Well I had in mind that the would have the bevel on the under side, and that the face of the panel that is the inside, would have been on the outside, but I beveled the wrong side, AND all the way around. I was thinking jsut three sides for the bevel. Not a big deal, but I just flipped it over and ran the bevel along the other three sides. Then, when I went to mortise the hinges…I cut them in the face of the box, not the back. I had gone to great lengths and possibly killed my planer to get those panels in the front. I was starting to get a little frustrated at this point. I decided I would just go with it, and put the hinges in. I knew the hinges had the brass screws, so I tried to get the right size pilot holes, and be gentle. Hah, I broke one screw in the box and one screw in the top. At this point, I came within an eyelash of tap dancing on top of the box on the concrete floor.

I backed away for a day or two, and decided I would try to salvage the box best I could. Getting the broken screws out was a pain, and messed up the top of the box a bit. At this point, I decided I would just cut the box down, and remove the shallow mortices for the hinges, and lessen the hack job of trying to get the screws out. I made a simple jig so I could run the box across the table saw. This allowed me to re-mortice for the hinges in the back of the box this time. I drilled out a 1/4” hole where the screws were, and plugged with walnut dowels. I knew the end grain of the dowel would be darker, and do not have a face plug cutter. But, I really didn’t see a lot of other options.

All in all, I am pretty happy with the box, it could have been better and easier, but it is a learning experience. I due know, as most of you do, that when you make something for mom, you better do a good job, because you will have to look at it for a long time. The box is a size that will here hold the remains of her black lab, and the older dog she still has. Sort of a two birds with one stone thing.

Thanks for looking.

37 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118011 posts in 4253 days

#1 posted 12-23-2012 11:52 PM

Been there done that ,some times our projects do not want to go gently .This Urn turned out very well a wonderful urn for a beloved pet.


View ksSlim's profile


1304 posts in 3566 days

#2 posted 12-23-2012 11:59 PM

Nice! As a1Jim said, many times material doesn’t go willingly into a design.
Not too shabby for a Ks kid.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View Grumpymike's profile


2439 posts in 2991 days

#3 posted 12-23-2012 11:59 PM

I think the final product looks great. Been there, done that, and glad the box was saved by a short pause.
Next time you are working with a hard wood, bore your pilot holes, use a STEEL American made screw of the same size first; then back it out and place the brass screw. You will be amazed at how few you break.
The front pannels are real eye popers.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19547 posts in 3244 days

#4 posted 12-24-2012 12:02 AM

Way to stick with it Shane. In the end it came out great.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3275 days

#5 posted 12-24-2012 12:04 AM

Thanks guys, I knew the hazard of the brass screws. I think they were basically #4 size, but I did not have any steel ones on hand. Nor a proper size bit. I used a small finish nail to get the “pilot” hole best I could. Apparently not good enough though. It kind of amazes me, that I have to pay $35 (less the $10 WC coupon) for some simple hinges. Then, they give you brass slotted screws. I mean really? for that price they couldn’t “throw in” a couple of extras? Once I had broken them, I knew I was in trouble to get slotted screws…I went with the steel #4 screws from HD and got some smaller drill bits. Even bought some extra screws. Death to brass scews!!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30531 posts in 3014 days

#6 posted 12-24-2012 12:05 AM

Beautiful work. We’ve all had some of those headaches.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View RussellAP's profile


3105 posts in 2963 days

#7 posted 12-24-2012 12:35 AM

Try ace or westlake hardware for hinges and phillips head brass screws. They actually have a pretty good selection of chest hardware at reasonable prices. You could also pick up a pilot drill there too. I need to get more, I keep breaking them off.
I’m having a hard time determining the size of the box. From the grain, I’d say it’s a chest size.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3275 days

#8 posted 12-24-2012 12:39 AM

18”L x 8 1/2”D x 9 1/2” T kind of a mid size box, I was a little suprised by the size/weight of the box the remains are in. He was a 100+ lb dog though.

View RussellAP's profile


3105 posts in 2963 days

#9 posted 12-24-2012 12:54 AM

Is that Jim’s walnut?

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3275 days

#10 posted 12-24-2012 12:58 AM

Yep, he was proud of that wood. So, I did not get it for the $1-2 a bf, normal sorta price. It was worth it though.

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2878 days

#11 posted 12-24-2012 01:34 AM

Shane, A Beautiful Looking Box. That sure is some nice looking Walnut.

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View JL7's profile


8765 posts in 3641 days

#12 posted 12-24-2012 02:42 AM

Shane – this looks incredible – would never know you had all the issues…...but I do understand….love the way you lined up the grain…....this is a real beauty….thanks.

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View rtbrmb's profile


723 posts in 3065 days

#13 posted 12-24-2012 02:57 AM

great recovery, i also had to take a step back & take a break from my most recent project.

Thanks for sharing your mistakes/fixes & the finished project.

Bill in MI

View Mauricio's profile


7165 posts in 3828 days

#14 posted 12-24-2012 03:05 AM

Turned out great! A fitting resting place for the old boy.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View lysdexic's profile


5291 posts in 3299 days

#15 posted 12-24-2012 03:50 AM

That’s beautiful Shane. What’s your finish?

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

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