Quick to make; treasured for a lifetime-My gift-giving mantra


Fellow Lumberjock Woodwrecker’s Palm Box projects gave me just the inspiration I needed to get my creative energies flowing.

Palm Boxes for Christmas.

It turned out to be a woodworking perfect storm, allowing me to:

1. Get experience mixing and matching different/expensive wood species with a minimal investment in materials and time,

2. Practice new box-making techniques like using pins for hinges, butt joints reinforced with dowels and brass rods, and laminations. And best of all…

3. Creating Christmas gifts that family and friends will enjoy over the years.

For matching wood species, I turned to Garret Hack’s Fine Woodworking’s article The Right Way to Use Contrast. It was a lot of fun trying out many of the combinations he suggested.

David Freedman’s Box-Making Basics provided me with details on how to do the pin hinges. Given that I used butt joints to affix the sides, I reinforced them with either oak dowels or the same 1/8” brass rod I used for the hinges. On the butternut/walnut box #4 below, I shaved off too much while shooting the sides of the lid, so I laminated some butternut to the walnut lid to get a perfect fit.

Finally, I chose the best scraps I had: ones that showed figured grain and beautiful colors. I used ¼” plywood for all the bottoms.

Here’s the basic design:

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Here’s the lineup:

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Box #1: I built this one for Mom. The front/back is of alder which stained quite well (tung oil), the sides are walnut and the lid is mahogany. I shipped it before taking any measurements. She told me she’s going to use it to hold recipe cards.

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Box #2: This one is for a buddy. (8 1/8” L x 4 3/8” W x 2 7/8” H) He and I like to share a cigar now and then, and even though this is not a humidor, I’ll throw in a couple cigars before dropping it by his house. The lid is made from reclaimed oak 2 x 4s I got from a loading dock in Fort Collins, CO. The sides are walnut and the front/back is alder. The front/back are alder and the sides are walnut. Also finished with tung oil.

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Box #3: This one’s for my lady. (8” L x 4 3/8” W x 3 ¼” H)Having gotten the design down and practiced drilling holes for the hinge rods, I stepped up to cherry and maple. I used the most figured of each I could find though the spalted maple lid makes a nice contrast with the cherry. I finished this one with three coats of tung oil followed by three coats of paste wax.

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Box #4: This ones’…for me. (10 1/8” L x 4 7/8” W x 3 ¼” H) I took an instant liking to working the butternut and the contrast with the walnut is very elegant in my view. I decided to keep this one myself, assigning it to duty on my work desk to house the ink bottles for my fountain pens. I used brass rods to reinforce the butt joints gluing them in with 5 minute epoxy. I finished this one using Danish oil.

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Candle Holders # 5 & #6: For my lady. The laminated sides are actually cut-offs from the mahogany/alder prototype I built to guide my build of a walnut/spalted maple wedding box for a buddy. I disassembled the glued up box by cutting off the boards at the joints. And rather than toss the joints, I used them in the building of the candle holder. I also used brass rods to reinforce the joint of the top piece to the base. Danish-oil finish.

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Here’s another one–walnut with butternut borders.

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When I cut out the hole for the candle holder, it left a nice lip on the disk, which, rather than throwing out, I decided to make into a tree ornament.

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Pen/Pencil Holder #7: My engineer Dad loves this type of stuff. He has fistfuls of pens and pencils so this one will get filled quickly. I don’t have any pictures of the one I completed for my Dad, but here’s a picture of one a fellow Lumberjock did. I used a tung-oil finish.

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And that’s a wrap for my 2012 Christmas builds.

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About The Write Biz

By day, I'm a mild-mannered copywriter who harnesses frontal-lobe creativity (right brain) to help B2B marketers generate leads and sales. By night I pick up hand tools to create wooden masterpieces...and give my black lab Bella the "red dot" laser to chase after.
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