Pistol Display Box in Black Walnut - Log to Box

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Project by Nick_R posted 01-29-2014 12:11 AM 4229 views 5 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a very special project for me since it was requested by a local artist/engraver for a pair of Colt 1911 Series 70 pistols. I know nothing about guns, but apparently these are pretty special.

He wanted the case to be made from a black walnut tree he has on his property in Georgia. He had a large limb cut down several years ago and it has been “aging” in his barn. He brought them to me (1000 mile round trip) bark and all and said do what you can.

His only request was that the box be all wood and look like an old time box and no hardware showing. He also wanted a false bottom so the gun tray could lift out and have some storage underneath.

With no promises made because of warping, rotting, twisting etc I started into the log.

The wood is very hard. The chainsaw blade actually sparked when cutting. No nails or screws were found. It burned up a brand new Timber Wolf resaw blade after I made all the cuts.

Lots of rot and cracks.. not much twisting but I was thinking we are good to go.

After the boards were cut – varying lengths about 3/4” think, I sent them through my planer. Little bits at a time and it cleaned up nice. Several pieces were too brittle and did not make it to the final cut. :)

I planed all the pieces I could to a 1/2” thickness. Then to the table saw to even out the widths. I ended up buying a new blade for my saw because the old one just did not want to work that hard.

The initial though was to dovetail the ends, but the wood is very sensitive and split on the end. So I went with 45’s and rounded the corners with a router and sander. I think the look was good.

Mortised lock, lid stop and hinges! This was more than just nerve wracking. i would do the mortise work differently next time but I managed to pull it off.

The gun tray is all walnut with cutouts for the guns to sit. I did not want them sitting to low because it hides the engraving.. (which is by far the real star here).

Also.. In the middle of the gun tray is an oval inlay for a metal Colt plaque. It is not shown because it was not finished.. :)

I added more pictures below to show the process.. I hope you jocks like it…

Oh yea.. about 20 coats of spray lacquer too..

-- Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

16 comments so far

View gwolfe1977's profile


228 posts in 3263 days

#1 posted 01-29-2014 12:27 AM

Well done! All of your hard work really paid off! Thanks for the extra pics and thanks for sharing. Very nice looking pair of pistols as well!

-- Gary,Nebraska

View skiler's profile


71 posts in 3408 days

#2 posted 01-29-2014 12:30 AM

The pistols are impressive but that box is a work of art! and from a log at that!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4142 days

#3 posted 01-29-2014 01:05 AM

An amazing engraving job on those pistols. (yes, they are very special).

Great job on the case! That walnut looks and acted a lot like mesquite. Are you sure it was walnut? The smell should be definitive.

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

View Oldtool's profile


3499 posts in 3643 days

#4 posted 01-29-2014 01:42 AM

Nice work, great box build and project description.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View larryw's profile


335 posts in 4114 days

#5 posted 01-29-2014 02:44 AM

Very nice Nick!, I’m actually in the process of building a box/case and grips for a S&W .38 to present to my dad on his birthday. Again, awesome work, and if I may ask, what type of hinges did you use ?. Thanks for sharing.

-- "everything is beautiful, but not everyone sees it" ~confucius-551-449 b.c.~

View Nick_R's profile


154 posts in 3602 days

#6 posted 01-29-2014 03:17 AM

Thanks Larry. Those are called barrel hinges. You can get them most places like rockler or woodcraft

-- Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


24532 posts in 5128 days

#7 posted 01-29-2014 04:16 AM

Very nice work. sounds like you have more tied up in new blades than the guns are worth ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 5028 days

#8 posted 01-29-2014 05:03 AM

Beautiful job.
Your pictorial will certainly be useful to those trying to duplicate your nice work.

View Dwacki's profile


35 posts in 3406 days

#9 posted 01-29-2014 09:09 AM

Great looking box!!! Better looking guns lol

-- Dennis, South Bend ( Go Irish) Indiana

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4319 days

#10 posted 01-29-2014 02:36 PM

It’s a beautiful box and nice and practical. Well done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Avg_Joe's profile


66 posts in 3192 days

#11 posted 01-29-2014 03:25 PM

Very very cool! And I love the story and pictures. So nice of you to create such a special box for your artist friend. Really special!! Well done Nick!

View Rickterscale's profile


167 posts in 3813 days

#12 posted 01-29-2014 06:00 PM

Nice job. And those sure are some pimped out 1911’s!

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4256 days

#13 posted 02-01-2014 01:25 AM

Beautifully done. It don’t get any fresher than this. A fine case for a pair of fine pistols.

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

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5505 days

#14 posted 02-03-2014 08:00 PM

Beautiful COOL piece of work!

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

View lightcs1776's profile


4280 posts in 3106 days

#15 posted 03-13-2014 02:13 AM

Fantastic shots of how you milled the lumber. Beautiful job completing the box.

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

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