A gift for Grandma. Well ... almost. #1: Completed, but not finished

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Blog entry by NBeener posted 08-15-2010 07:25 PM 1776 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of A gift for Grandma. Well ... almost. series no next part

My mother visited DJ and me, in April. She asked if I could build a gift box for her mother—my Gramaline.

We went to the lumberyard where she and DJ picked out the woods they wanted me to use—Padauk and Maple—and a plan for the style of box they preferred.

DJ preferred miniature finger joints. I ordered a new template for my P-C jig. It took a while to arrive.

Then, early May came along and … something went wrong with my eyes. My Boston docs told me to stop wearing my lenses until I could be seen. Without my lenses, I’m rather a stuffed animal—cute, but … not particularly useful ;-)

On May 31, I drove to Boston. For six weeks, they tried to fit these scleral lenses on me. Because of “corneal neuropathy,” every pair that didn’t fit … hurt like the dickens. I had to leave them in, though, so they could “use the damage” to guide what to change.

After six weeks, I came home, feeling what could only be described as Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Without much time to recover, or get used to the new lenses and slight difference in vision, DJ and I left for Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She had a conference. I/we had some hiking to do.

On our way back, on August 4th—my mother’s birthday—we got the call that my grandmother had died. She had survived her 11th and 12th stent procedures, but died on the table during an ablation procedure, intended to stop an atrial fibrillation issue.

The next day, we flew to Rochester, NY—my grandmother’s birthplace, and where her family is laid to rest. It’s all a dream to me, now, but … I got home … and thought about the box. I wasn’t able to finish it for her, and give it to her, during her life.

I started back in on it—determined to give it to MY mother, instead.

I really didn’t get the box joints to all be tight. The front two look pretty good. The back two … well … not so much. I should have practiced more, on scrap, should have had better lighting overhead, and … should have found ways to compensate for what required more than my vision could give.

The lid has a roundover profile. The base has a simple 45* chamfer.

I need to tack the box onto the base—either with construction adhesive, or brads through the bottom, or … both.

Then I have to decide how to finish it, and what sort of hardware/handle will go on top.

Timing is everything, huh ?

-- -- Neil

14 comments so far

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3457 days

#1 posted 08-15-2010 08:15 PM

I am so pleased that you are back to woodworking.
The box is beautiful… the sentiment touching.
That cover is just the best! I love the bookmatching you did.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4324 days

#2 posted 08-15-2010 09:46 PM

Very nice Neil, It turned out really nice.

Our condolences for your loss.

I’m glad you could finish this with the severe handicap you have.

My having cataract surgery was minuscule compared to what you’ve been through.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3527 days

#3 posted 08-15-2010 09:55 PM

My condolences for the loss of your Gramaline, Neil…
Well Done on the Box, my Friend… it’s going to mean a lot to your Mom…

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3673 days

#4 posted 08-15-2010 10:30 PM

A very touching story Neil. Sounds like from the loss of your grandmother, a new box emerged for your mom which is a good way to keep at it, and will ad a nice touch to the box when presented.

As for the base – I think wood glue and clamps would be more than enough – it’s long grain to long grain and as such, there aren’t many things that would be stronger than that glue joint. can’t wait to see this box finished, it’ll add so much more to an already lovely piece!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3220 days

#5 posted 08-15-2010 10:41 PM

I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother, my condolences.

Very nice box. The bookmatched top looks very nice :) I’m sure your grandmother would have loved it, but I know it will mean a lot for your mother as well.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 2905 days

#6 posted 08-15-2010 11:58 PM

Sad for your loss. As for the belated gift, it’s the thought that counts. Gramaline probably knows of the thought….

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4271 days

#7 posted 08-16-2010 02:01 AM

Sorry Neil on both counts, so sorrowful to loose a Grandmother, especially when you’re close to them, then to accomplish something like you have is really a miracle in itself. You are quite a guy to hold it all together through it all. God Bless, and my condolences, your friend, mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3698 days

#8 posted 08-16-2010 02:07 AM

Neil thats a beautiful box, and sorry for your lost you have my condolences. Charles!

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1567 posts in 3590 days

#9 posted 08-16-2010 03:22 AM

Hey Neil, Sorry to hear about you loss, please accept my condolences too…

The box looks nice, I like the contrasting woods. I have finished box joints that were well, somewhat less than perfect by sanding/filling the gaps with sawdust. What about an oil/poly mix for a finish?

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3199 days

#10 posted 08-16-2010 04:14 PM

Thanks, all. Thanks much for the thoughts and kind words.

One thing about a hobby that isn’t made up mostly of teen-agers: we all pretty well understand loss.

It WAS great to be in the shop again. I started thinking about future projects that I REALLY want to build.

Sharon: Thanks. I’m really weak on species, wood movement, and grain orientation—pretty important, if slightly technical stuff. I’ll keep plugging away at it, and post the finished project asap.

To health … and to family :-)

-- -- Neil

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3134 days

#11 posted 08-17-2010 06:33 AM

My condolences Neil and even though the box will not be seen by your grandmother, her spirit is part of the construction. And that, my friend, is an ingredient that no stain or accent can compete with. Your mother will treasure it.

Health and family bud,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3359 days

#12 posted 08-17-2010 04:18 PM

My condolences on the passing of your Grandmother Neil. I’m very sorry to hear about you eye troubles. I imagine it is a lot more than just frustrating. I hope your situation will get dramatically better soon.

Your box looks just great and the book matched top really sets it off. A great gift for your Mom which she is sure to appreciate and treasure.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4179 posts in 3189 days

#13 posted 08-17-2010 06:33 PM

I think we all look back when someone dies and wonder if we should have done something differently with deceased, before it happened. A little guilt in these situations is the norm. I think your decision to give the box to your mother instead is a good one… is coming along very well.

Into an extended 200 hour (new estimate) computer install, so not much shop time. Today, I spent two hours trying to figure out why my links weren’t working in Outlook, just to find, after looking in the registry, that Internet Explorer wasn’t there…..I had inadvertantly moved the folder. Think it happened yesterday during a crazy autoplay fiasco (I have eliminated all autoplay activity on my computer now) when windows explorer froze up trying to autoplay a DVD that was full of files, not a movie. I normally remove autoplay on all my computers, but was trying to maintain some capability this time…......a mistake.

Hope you are getting used to the new eyeballs…...........


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View sharad's profile


1117 posts in 3829 days

#14 posted 08-18-2010 06:28 PM

Very sad to hear demise of your grandmother for whom you were making this beautiful box. Now your mother will cherish it as very precious gift. Your diminished eye sight should never stop you from making many more wood working projects.


-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

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