Urn Keepsake Box

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Project by Triman posted 1738 days ago 1691 views 12 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was, without a doubt, my most difficult project. My Brother passed away unexpectedly last week, complications from the flu and and pneumonia. His Wife and kids asked if I would make a wood box to be used for the ashes, with room for keepsakes. They needed it in 1 week, but I said of course I would. I found a beautiful piece of ziricote, that was wide enough and long enough, that I could create the 4 sides with the single piece of wood. I used curly maple for the base, and birdseye maple for the tray, lid, and keys.

After making the actual box, I made another box with no top or bottom, that just fit inside. This was 3 inches high, with 1/8 inch thick sides. (If it was too shallow or too deep, I could remove it, make a new one and just slip the new one inside.) This slides inside, and created the lip for the ash compartment lid to rest on. Then, on top of this, I created a third box, with no lid. This is actually the keepsake tray. I left it with no divisions, since I wasn’t sure what they might want to put in the tray. The tray has 3 keys to match the outer box.

The lid was made with a perfect piece of birdseye maple, that was large enough to be able to make the lid out of a single piece of wood. (Thanks to fellow member Barlow!). I glued the chunk of ziricote on top, added the side frame, then rough sanded with a belt sander, then finished with the random orbital sander.

They said they wanted it hinged, and I’ve never used hinges before, so this was the most difficult and stresssful portion of the project. Since the lid has an overhang, I needed hinges with a stop on them. After looking at numerous hinges at Woodcraft, I ended up buying quadrant hinges. It was at the last day, that I realized that these hinges are not made for my type of lid. They are supposed to recess 1 inch into the top and bottom. Well, my lid is quite thin, so I made them recess entirely into the base/sides. I made 3 practices runs, and I blew out a hole on 2 of the 3 tries. Since I had no alternative, I forged ahead. Multiple trial runs on the router table for the initial mortises. those went fine. I then used a drill to grind out the holes for the hinge quadrant. 1 went fine, and yep, I went too far with the second, and ended up with a 1/8 inch hole in the back. There is less that 1/8 of an inch leeway, and since you’re working blind, I would never suggest anyone try this! I managed to use some Titebond III, mixed with some ziricote sand dust to make a putty. After smudging some in the hole, letting it dry, then sanding and refinishing, it’s passable. Fortunately, it’s on the back of the box.

I finished with multiple coats of tung oil. The lid needed additional coats, but since I only finished the lid 24 hours prior, it only got 1 coat. I hope to add additional coats whenever I go to visit his family.

My Brother was the best, nicest guy in the world. He was taken from us way too early. Over a hundred people showed up for his celebration on Saturday, and the box was very well received. I think he would have liked it!

-- Bruce, San Jose, Ca

16 comments so far

View lew's profile


9991 posts in 2381 days

#1 posted 1738 days ago

A fitting tribute for your brother. Our condolences on your loss.

Lew and Mimi

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View WistysWoodWorkingWonders's profile


11908 posts in 1782 days

#2 posted 1738 days ago

My condolences on your loss Triman… Definately a difficult build under those circumstances… you pulled through well and your brother would have been proud…
Great looking and long lasting keepsake box…

-- New Project = New Tool... it's just the way it is, don't fight it... :)

View Andy's profile


1535 posts in 2533 days

#3 posted 1738 days ago

Your brother would definitely be proud!
This is a beautiful project, and a kind expression to the family.
I feel your pain…I recently lost my father :-(

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 1950 days

#4 posted 1738 days ago

Beautiful box, for beautiful sentiments.

View Kristoffer's profile


670 posts in 1841 days

#5 posted 1738 days ago

WOW!!!!!! VERY NICE!!!!!!!! Everything about this post tugs on some rarely touched strings.

-- Cheers and God Bless

View littlecope's profile


2894 posts in 2127 days

#6 posted 1738 days ago

A beautiful tribute to your Brother, Bruce. I am very, very sorry for your loss.

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

View grizzman's profile


6913 posts in 1929 days

#7 posted 1738 days ago

im glad you had the chance to add a wonderful part of yourself with the makeing of the box…im sorry for your loss, and i know if you keep your heart open, god will bless you with healing….none of us know our time table of how long were here…so love the best you can every day….each day is a gift.

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Loucarb's profile


2388 posts in 2070 days

#8 posted 1738 days ago

Beautiful box and a wonderful tribute, sorry for your loss.

View woodworm's profile


14124 posts in 2216 days

#9 posted 1738 days ago

Very nice box.
My condolence on the loss!

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 2358 days

#10 posted 1738 days ago

I will also add my condolences on your loss. You did a wonderful job on the box under difficult circumstances and time constraints. I’m sure your brother’s family appreciates the effort, craftsmanship and love you put into the box and will treasure it always.


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View a1Jim's profile


112010 posts in 2202 days

#11 posted 1738 days ago

Wonderfully beautiful

-- Custom furniture

View ratchet's profile


1285 posts in 2412 days

#12 posted 1738 days ago

A very beautiful box and fitting tribute to your brother! I am heartfully sorry for your loss and offer my sincerest condolences. I am sure your bro would be proud of your work in this. I could only hope for similar consideration when my time comes.

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 1820 days

#13 posted 1738 days ago

Sorry for your loss. Beautiful box.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View Triman's profile


50 posts in 2208 days

#14 posted 1737 days ago

I’d just like to thank everyone for the kind words of support. It’s been a tough couple of weeks, but everyone here has helped me with their warm sentiments.

-- Bruce, San Jose, Ca

View bigike's profile


4031 posts in 1914 days

#15 posted 1632 days ago

very nice

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

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