|Project by ju7281||posted 07-05-2015 04:15 PM||2783 views||4 times favorited||15 comments|
My good friend Dave (pictured at his retirement ceremony) asked me to build his shadow box. Of course I said yes; it would be an honor, I said. I had previously only built one shadow box (mine), but I knew my woodworking skills would carry me through this project. I had exactly one month to complete it, which I thought would be plenty of time, however, I found myself up against the ropes on ceremony day, putting the very last piece of trim on at about 8:10 A.M., with the ceremony starting at 9:00 A.M.! But, I did it! By the way, I was the official photographer for the ceremony as well.
The inspiration for this piece came from a similar design I saw online, and without plans, and only a very low-resolution photo, I got started. My design changed a few times over the course of the build, and since I had been out of serious woodworking for about the last ten years due to work and health reasons, I had to relearn many techniques as well as learn many new ones in order to complete the job. I made a few mistakes along the way, some of which were costly, as you all know that oak isn’t cheap.
Although I had no plans, I did have some inspiration for the overall design. However, I’ve scoured the Internet for flag cases and I’ve never seen one like this one, so to me at least, this is an original design, one that looks pretty nice, if I do say so myself :)
Something that certainly isn’t new to shadow box design, but I wanted to try, is inlaying challenge coins into the wood, as seen in the last two photos above. I racked my brain trying to come up with a jig to make the holes with my router, and I finally came up with the idea of using plexiglass, just adding the radii of the bit, router base and coin, and then cutting out the hole in the plexiglass that I would run the router in. Well, in theory that was a great idea, but after three tries, I realized I just wasn’t going to get it right. The holes were never exactly the right diameter, or the right shape, or both, so I went back to basics and routed the holes in the wood by hand, by tracing a circle around the coins and routing the material out inside the circles, being careful at the edges and checking the fit of the coins often. I eventually got the holes to where the coins fitted perfectly, and now I realize I can inlay any sized coin. UPDATE (10/18/16): I now have a Forstner bit the same diameter as my coins, so it’s a snap cutting out just enough wood in which to lay the coins for a perfect fit – every time!
It took me about 250 hours to finish this project, mainly because I was “out of shape”, so-to-speak, and because the mistakes I made were not only costly in terms of money but also time. I learned quite a few lessons that in future projects will prevent most, if not all, of those mistakes from recurring, saving me time and money. Nevertheless, it was a real pleasure making this box for a good friend.
I love woodworking and it was great to get back into it after such a long hiatus, and for a good cause, but the sheer complexity of, and time required to complete, this project are enough to keep me from doing any more of these for the foreseeable future. If you would like me to make one like this for you or for a loved one, check out the Two-Flags Shadow Box (SMALL) version in my Projects. I modified the plans for this one a bit to make it less complex and to take less time to complete. I’m just not going to be making this particular model again for a while.
-- Joe, Georgia, https://www.facebook.com/OTCustomWood/