Cedar lined Red Oak Shadow Box

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Project by Tim posted 06-30-2007 02:42 PM 3530 views 2 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A guy I work with told a friend of his that I make shadow boxes for those about to retire from the Navy. Shadow box…No Problem!! However this guy wanted a chest with his medals and such in the lid. I agreed and told him it would be a $300 job. Well I had never done anything for so much money or mortise and tenon joints for that matter. So off to the lumber store I go and after buying all the hardware and lumber I quickly realize I had severely under bid. Totally lost my tail. Anyway the box is a very simple design I drew up myself. The front, back, and sides are mortise and tenon panels. The bottom of each piece was dadoed to receive the ply bottom. The corners were rabbited and glued up. It was quite the project for me at the time. I think I could probably crank one out a lot quicker now. The final product was quite nice despite the top being warped a little and not sitting quite square. The customer was so pleased that he gave me a $120 dollar tip!!! I think he knew that I was not making any money off the job. Small profit, huge lesson.

I forgot to mention, I had never done any carving either and he wanted a carving of the Gas Turbine System rate mark on the front of the box. I know it’s a pretty simple relief carving but I was still pretty pleased with it.

And for those wondering…the customer put the medals and the flag in the case. I was very displeased with his flag folding.

-- Measure twice!!

11 comments so far

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4306 days

#1 posted 06-30-2007 02:46 PM

That is a master piece! I really like the idea of the display on the inside lid of the chest. Do you have any idea why the top warped on you? Your friend definitely came out smelling like a rose to get this for, $420.00. Thanks for the post.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4310 days

#2 posted 06-30-2007 02:54 PM

Nice project! It is funny how we can miss those estimates by so much. No wonder a customers can get a shock by a fair bid.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4214 days

#3 posted 06-30-2007 03:30 PM

Great job. I love the design.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Tim's profile


28 posts in 3997 days

#4 posted 06-30-2007 03:47 PM

Os, The top probably warped because I have crappy clamps and no real flat surface to work with. Also after cutting the wood was a little out-of-wack i.e. a nice bow and I don’t have a jointer or planer.

-- Measure twice!!

View PanamaJack's profile


4483 posts in 4073 days

#5 posted 06-30-2007 05:24 PM

Top notch Tim, a woodworking art piece.

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 4081 days

#6 posted 06-30-2007 06:07 PM

Nice job Tim. He did get off cheap, but it must have been nice to build something for someone with so many years of service to this country.

Just as an aside Dennis…what would you charge for something like this? If you don’t mind my asking. One of the things that you pros could help us amateurs with is pricing. I have no interest in undercutting guys who are making a living at this nor do I want to cheapen my own labors. I think one of the things that makes it tough for talented pros to make it work is the fact that so many talented amateurs sell work almost at a loss because they do it as a hobby. We need to remember that by selling something cheap we take the bread off the plates of the pros and depress prices in general for quality pieces.

I’m not being critical Tim…just curious….I’ve done the same.

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4072 days

#7 posted 07-02-2007 10:06 AM

wow great job…it must have felt great to stretch your limits further then you had gone before…and you came out with a great piece…nice job!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4032 days

#8 posted 07-02-2007 03:52 PM

Just an awesome piece!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4157 days

#9 posted 07-02-2007 05:33 PM

Very nice chest. Did I understand you used solid wood for the entire chest? One way to reduce the cost is to use oak plywood for the sides and top, and solid woods for the frame parts. It is also more likely to stay straight while you are assembling the piece. True, it is not the same as a solid wood box.

What were the dimensions on the box?

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Tim's profile


28 posts in 3997 days

#10 posted 07-02-2007 08:22 PM

Bill, the box was not solid wood. I used 4/4 rough milled to about 7/8 for the rails and stiles. 1/2 oak ply was used for the side, front, back and top. Scrap piece’s were used for the bottom. I believe the box was 36 inches wide by 15 by 15, inside diameter. The chest is going to be used for uniforms.

-- Measure twice!!

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4134 days

#11 posted 07-04-2007 07:58 AM

Greta looking box and a real keepsake. I was given a flag & medal shadow box when I left Naval Hospital Bremerton. I was so touched that I really had to struggle to hold back tears of appreciation. This will be a true treasure.

I agree with Bob’s comment about advice from the professionals amongst us – how do you go about pricing this type of work. Most of us at the ameteur level will get a commision from time to time and knowing how to make a fair price estimate (for the customer and woodworker) would be helpful.

Again, a wonderful piece. Thanks for sharing.

By the way, this is right up my alley – I love storage chests!


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