The Poor Man's Box

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Project by littlecope posted 09-18-2009 01:30 AM 1872 views 0 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

And here it is, freshly dried and ready for…?
My Older Brother already asked if I thought he could “fit” into it. Actually I had already thought of “fitting” into it myself…and here I was, thinking this was just for fun…
The little bit that I’ve been able to find out about urns is that the rule of thumb is one cubic inch per lb. body weight. The standard size is 200 cubic inches, 8”X 5”X 5” inside dimensions or some such, so this is too small, but a person’s wishes are paramount and it is not necessary to keep all of one’s ashes…
Sorry to go morbid on this, folks, and it really was fun to make! It was never my intention to make an urn at the outset, the last thing on my mind! I haven’t yet made one, though several people have asked me if I could, hence the research…but this looks like it just might end up being one. It’s actually a relief, it would have been a much more difficult build had I known…
The last picture is where this project started from…
Any questions, comments, or thoughts are always welcome…

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

19 comments so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18249 posts in 3644 days

#1 posted 09-18-2009 02:13 AM

Quite a transition ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Bradford's profile


1434 posts in 3791 days

#2 posted 09-18-2009 02:15 AM

That is a very interesting build and story. I agree it’s easier to make one without knowing it will end up being one. I made a medicine box for my father recently and he used it daily, and after he passed away his ashes were housed in it until we sprinkled them in the Smoky Mountains. Looking back I couldn’t have made a better one.

-- so much wood, so little time. Bradford. Wood-a-holics unanimous president

View Woodwrecker's profile


4137 posts in 3544 days

#3 posted 09-18-2009 02:20 AM

Mike my friend, I’d be proud to cross the River Jordon in that box!
It is a beautiful piece of work and you did an admirable job !

-- Eric, central Florida / Utor praemia operibus duris

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14171 posts in 3951 days

#4 posted 09-18-2009 02:27 AM

Looks great … would make a nice sugar cube box.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3470 days

#5 posted 09-18-2009 02:42 AM

Thanks everybody! Sugar cubes, huh? hmm…
That would be a good idea, but the pine smell is awful strong inside of it! Maybe Pine-flavored sugar? :)

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

View okwoodshop's profile


448 posts in 3143 days

#6 posted 09-18-2009 03:10 AM

nice box, guess i’ll watch where i get my sugar cubes from now on.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4186 days

#7 posted 09-18-2009 05:07 AM

Cool looking box, Mike. Can you make mine about six feet long, though? I’d rather go intact. :-)

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

View woodbutcher's profile


592 posts in 4134 days

#8 posted 09-18-2009 06:25 AM

Nice Box! Since I see you’re getting requests now for caskets too, please make mine about 12feet long and 6feet wide. I wanna go kicking and screaming and I want the pall bearers to have done a days work as well! I still didn’t understand the last photo, and the fact that it all started with it? I know I’m as dense as a piece of Ebony sometimes, but I didn’t get it. Can you spell it out for me? Congratulations on a very nice box though seriously!

Ken McGinnis

-- woodbutcher north carolina

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3470 days

#9 posted 09-18-2009 10:42 AM

Charlie: Thank You! I went to Concord, NH this week to investigate rumors of a new shop that was selling small wooden boxes for $450. The rumors weren’t entirely true, the asking prices were $350, but they raised questions in my mind…The shop itself had a wide variety of hand crafted things, from jewelry to clothing, and included many wood-worked items. A lot of turned items, which were nicely done, a few shaker style boxes, some furniture…and four small wooden boxes on shelves. One of them was clearly handmade and fairly nice, but the other three…They were Perfect!! Too Perfect!! I didn’t feel that it was appropriate to take pictures, so I can only tell you that they looked factory-made. Beautiful boxes to be sure, mitered joints with dovetailed keys, partitioned trays felt-lined, absolutely seamless work. Though they were three different sizes, they were identically constructed. I ask you, and all the box makers among us, who ever does the exact same box over again? Right down to the wooden clasp, which was a clever idea and could be shaped in any fashion, these ones were exactly the same shape…?
I can only speak for myself, of course, and I’ve only been doing the box thing for five years or so, but the boxes have all been created out of the available wood on hand, no two alike. Also, with no training, there has been a learning curve for me, a slow whittling down of ideas that work…and those that don’t…
The experience left me puzzled…
woodbutcher: Thank You, Ken!! I guess you missed it, but I did a blog series on the construction of this, beginning here

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

View patron's profile


13600 posts in 3309 days

#10 posted 09-18-2009 11:19 AM

mike :
there are a whole slew of what i call ” technicians ” .
they can make things perfect .
but they cannot have original thought !

i used to have a shop in california , three doors down was an old german master and his ” apprentice ” ,
they made office furniture , i made off the wall art .
the ” apprentice ” used to come by my shop to see what i was up to , and i would proudly show him all my
methods and innovations . the old man never once set foot in my shop , ( as i was just playing in his eyes ) .
when ever i would go to their shop , they would both stand in front of their work , and let me know that i was not welcome , ( i might copy their work ) !
the only thing they could do was what they had been taught , and always needed plans to work to .
my work was considered inferior , because i had no formal training to judge against .

unfortunately , that system is still in place in some of the outlets where we might show our work ,
if it doesn’t have provenance , it is not real , sell it in the flea market as a novelty or craft .
it must be a copy of some dead guy’s work , how exact it is , determines how much it is worth !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3302 days

#11 posted 09-18-2009 11:50 AM

Nice box and very original, which is what makes it interesting and worthy to be seen and commented on. I have to agree with David about creativeness vs technical perfection. For many of us though It can be difficult sometimes to free ourselves up enough to actually make something new and unusual. You have definitely done that here.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View ellen35's profile


2734 posts in 3401 days

#12 posted 09-18-2009 12:32 PM

Super box! Very interesting and unusual design… and the cost to make was perfect.
I have seen those fancy “perfect” boxes and wonder who buys them. Give me a box with character that is obviously hand made using all the imperfections of real wood… a few warts really make them unique.
Nice job.
Sorry you won’t be at the LJ picnic this weekend. I would love to see some of your work in person!

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

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4268 days

#13 posted 09-18-2009 12:52 PM

Your box turned out really nice Mike!

One of a kind!

I used to have a box about that size when I was a kid.

I kept my marbles in it. I wonder if kids still play with marbles?

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

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4186 days

#14 posted 09-18-2009 04:07 PM

Mike, I agree with David about there being great technicians out there who just aren’t creative at all. That’s okay if technical perfection is your goal, and what you enjoy. Personally, and I think this holds true for most of us, I enjoy the creative aspect of woodworking as much as (or more than), the technical part. I’ve never wanted to make a box just like one I already made.

As far as selling boxes, It has always seemed to me like the only way to make any money would be to shorten the labor time by mass production. In other words, make maybe 10 boxes exactly alike so you could mill all the similar parts at one time and save a lot of set-up time for all the machines you were using. You’d also save time on finishing if you sprayed them all at one time. By cutting down on man-hours, you could lower the price to a more reasonable level and still make a profit.

The problem: None of this sounds like a lot of fun to me. :-)

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

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4215 days

#15 posted 09-18-2009 07:17 PM

Mike you made a perfect and beautiful boxurn. It’s just the right size for about 4 lids i’d say. But who’s counting, is it air tight?

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

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