Dovetail Box #17: Mothers Day Gift - The Box Is Done!

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Blog entry by Eric posted 05-10-2008 06:19 PM 2489 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 16: Gluing in the T-Keys Part 17 of Dovetail Box series Part 18: Finishing the Box »

Back at the end of January (yes, 2008), I said that I wanted to make, and I quote myself, “a simple dovetail box.” I planned to make it for my wife. I don’t think I really expected to finish it by Valentine’s Day, but I did expect that it would be done for her birthday (mid-March). That came and went, leaving me with Mothers Day as my next target date. As I finally figured out how to do the lid, it all started coming together very quickly, and I found myself on Mothers Day Eve with a great chance at being done. So here we go:

First off, the hinges. This was quite tricky. First time with hinges, and you’d think I’d have done some research first, but nope. I carefully pared away the mortise for the hinge until I had each one on top and bottom at about 1/16” deep. As you can see, I’m working at night with just a desk lamp. The kids’ room is just on the other side of those windows, so I can’t use the big bright lights.

hinges 1

hinges 2

Then it was the moment of truth. Sheesh, it seems like near the end of the project, every single thing is a moment of truth. It’s nervewracking. I did read about how easy it is to mess up brass screws, but I didn’t have any steel ones that size to bore the hole with, so I folded over some duct tape and drove the screw in with the tape protecting the screw. I think it worked!

hinges 3

At last. The final moment of truth. Screwing on the other side of the hinges, and seeing how the lid mates with the box. Actually, I had to do a little bit of tweaking (which does not mean I bent the hinges) to get it to mate well, but it did! It’s not perfect, though; the lid is just a bit too far forward, but the sides are flush. I can live with that.

So here are final pictures of the box as I’ll present it to my wife. After I finish it (oil/varnish/mineral spirits), I’ll post it on my Projects page and I’ll give a rundown on how it went overall, what I learned, etc. In a nutshell, though, I’m happy with it overall although there are many things that went wrong and I had to fix – and the fixes don’t look all that great in my eyes. But more on that later. I’m proud to present this box to my amazing wife for Mothers Day, and I’ll also present to her this series of posts so she can see how it came together. Here’s the box!

done 1

done 2

-- Eric at

13 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4017 days

#1 posted 05-10-2008 06:22 PM

Great job Eric! and just in time. It’s been great watching your trials and tribulations through this project.

I know she will enjoy it very much!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 3844 days

#2 posted 05-10-2008 07:23 PM

Well it’s about time! (Just Kidding) Glad to see you turned it out before Mothers day. Nice job too. What are you dreaming up next?

-- Scott - Chico California

View Thuan's profile


203 posts in 3847 days

#3 posted 05-10-2008 07:53 PM

I was going to say you made it with plenty of time to spare, then I realized you’re 12+ hours ahead, so
cutting it close, but that’s a great! I totally enjoyed the trip, looking forward to more.
By the way, becareful of oil on those open grain wood, it’ll suck it up and take 5 days to dry. Use shellac if you want it to dry fast. It wouldn’t surprise me if you French polished it.

-- Thuan

View jjohn's profile


390 posts in 3742 days

#4 posted 05-10-2008 10:54 PM

You might want to go ahead and get started on your next project if you want it finished before….Christmas. LOL. Just kidding. Looks really good from the pictures. Can’t wait to see your progress on the next project at hand.
By the way…The scrap book cab. I’m building, If it continues at the rate it’s going so far it might get done by Christmas, if I’m lucky.

-- JJohn

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3851 days

#5 posted 05-11-2008 12:39 AM


You made it!!!! I have enjoyed this journey. It has been both fun and educational watching you persist and persevere through the challenges that has presented to you. At several points you could easily have given in to the frustration and quit- but you didn’t and now you have a gorgeous box to give to her for mother’s day.

Well done and the box looks pretty good to me. You did a good job on the dovetails as well.

Thanks for the inspiration.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Grumpy's profile


24001 posts in 3880 days

#6 posted 05-11-2008 01:03 AM

Well done Eric. Thanks for sharing.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4275 days

#7 posted 05-11-2008 09:19 AM

Very nice box and well made, I might add. excellent job overall. I bet she loves it. mike

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

View zekemypet's profile


1 post in 3696 days

#8 posted 05-11-2008 03:02 PM

I’m proud of you Son !!! Much improved ” dovetail ” from your attempts in my workshop.

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4025 days

#9 posted 05-12-2008 05:43 AM

It feels awfully strange for you to be at then end of this! Great work through and through! It’s been fun to follow and I’m guessing we can expect to follow your next project?

With you in the photos, it really puts the size of you bench in perspective. Many of your photos are shot on the bench but I could never really judge the true scale – til now!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3812 days

#10 posted 05-12-2008 05:49 AM

Well I still have maybe one or two more posts on this box – one (which I’ll write soon) to get feedback on finishing, and then maybe one last one with final pics. And then I’ll post it in Projects too.

I’m deeply indebted to the many Jocks who gave me advice and encouragement along the way!

As for my next project, I’m thinking that I want to follow a project plan to build something. I want to try my hand at something that doesn’t involve so much problem solving from a design perspective, so I can focus my problem solving on basic things like joinery and craftsmanship!

I also wouldn’t mind if my next project was bigger. In fact, it’s a requirement. That little box felt like dollhouse furniture sometimes!

-- Eric at

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3903 days

#11 posted 05-12-2008 06:55 AM

I love the way you go about your work. Great box, and you can really tell it was built with love and care. Congratulations on finishing it.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3741 days

#12 posted 05-12-2008 01:52 PM

It must feel good to get a project out! Good looking box, reminds me that I really have to start working on my dovetails. Thanks for the post.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3702 days

#13 posted 07-01-2008 06:40 PM

Thats a nice gift.

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