my first jewelry box

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Project by danr78 posted 01-28-2010 09:38 AM 3136 views 11 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is not only my first jewelry box, but it was also my first woodworking project. It has sentimental value to me on so many levels.

My grand-father was an all-American hero. He raised five children, cattle, and corn on 500 hundred acres just west of Des Moines, Iowa; he fought in the battle of the bulge during WWII (he once told me that he was so scared, he forgot to pull the pin the first time he threw a grenade); though farming was his life, he was never too busy to take his grand-children fishing; but most importantly he was married to my grandmother for 68 years when he passed away two years ago. I will always remember him fondly. My favorite memories to look back on are when he would take me with him to mend fences or drive the cattle from one pasture to another. After we finished working, we would stop and pick wild rasberries to surprise my grandma. I could barely see over the steering wheel, but he let me drive anyway. My grandfather has a special place in heaven and I know it was a joyous reunion when he got there.

When he passed away, he left a little bit of money to each of his grandchildren. I knew I wanted to spend it on something that would have a lasting impact on my life. I bought my first woodworking tools: a table saw, jointer, planer, router and router table, and 4 clamps. There is no way I could have made that kind of investment on my own. I am truly blessed to have had that kind of opportunity.

That was one year ago and this was the first project I made with that investment. I thought of my grandfather often during this project so I thought it would be fitting to give it to my mom (his daughter).

The panels are walnut and the lid, splines, and trim are spalted poplar. I know it is hard to tell in the picture, but the lid is a raised panel. The sliding drawer has matching splines like the outer box. I used 10mm barrel hinges for concealment. The trim around the lid was actually a mistake; I don’t know how it happened because I thougth I was being very careful, but I cut into the box very close to the top when I meant to be cutting a spline. I brewed about it for days when my wife came to the rescue. It was her idea to widen the cut and wrap it all the way around. It is finished with several coats of Watco Danish Oil. I’m not sure why it looks this way in the picture, but the splines are actually very light – the photo of the front makes them look pretty dark.

I would like to enter this box in the yin yang contest. I believe the project makes great use of contrasting colors. The dark and the light woods make a striking and visually asthetic appeal. The inky grain in the spalted poplar stands out and really makes the whole piece come alive.
Thank you for taking the time to look at my work.

20 comments so far

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 3991 days

#1 posted 01-28-2010 10:14 AM

I like to tell people I’ve never met a box I didn’t like but that just won’t do for this box. I love this box. It reminds me of my grandfather now. I will be voting for this box in the yin yang contest as much for the story as the woodworking which, in a way, is a yin yang thing too I think. I hope your journey in woodworking is a rewarding one that allows for the important things in life for you. Welcome to LumberJocks.

God bless,

-- Jim

View Ken90712's profile


17556 posts in 3189 days

#2 posted 01-28-2010 11:13 AM

Great story and box welcome to LJ enjoy!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View degoose's profile


7233 posts in 3355 days

#3 posted 01-28-2010 11:23 AM

Beautifully built box, great story and a wonderful comment from Jim…....Welcome.

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3289 days

#4 posted 01-28-2010 01:01 PM

nice work

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View Jim's profile


150 posts in 3323 days

#5 posted 01-28-2010 01:33 PM

I felt like I was reading part of my own story as I read yours. Very nice story, and a great box, especially for your first project! I’m sure your grandfather would be proud of how you’ve spent the money and not only found enjoyment from it, but passed the love back to others with gifts made with it. Good luck if you enter the contest, your box should do well.

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

View Bradford's profile


1434 posts in 3823 days

#6 posted 01-28-2010 02:03 PM

I loved the memories you shared with us. They remind me of my grandfather’s and father’s sacrifices and love for all. Great story and a excellent box. Good luck in the contest.

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

View blockhead's profile


1475 posts in 3309 days

#7 posted 01-28-2010 02:07 PM

Whether that is your first or hundreth, the box is a beauty. With it being your first, it is that much more impressive. The spalted poplar really takes this piece to a different level. This is a very worthy project to honor your grand-father. I know he is proud. Well done Dan…

-- Brad, Oregon- The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3335 days

#8 posted 01-28-2010 02:09 PM

A very impressive start in woodworking. The box is beautifully done and the story that goes with it is priceless. Those of us who weren’t lucky enough to have had similar experiences with our own grandfathers can nevertheless give that experience to our own grandchildren and hope they will hold us in such high esteem and affection as you do for your grandfather. My uncle (from Minnesota) was also in the battle of the bulge, his company was almost entirely wiped out and my grandmother told me he always wondered why he had survived. He got a bronze star for helping to save four men out of a disabled tank under heavy fire. He never talked about the war.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3286 days

#9 posted 01-28-2010 02:54 PM

What a beautiful box and a great tribute to your grandfather. Your love for your grandfather shows in your work. He would be so proud. Thanks for sharing your story and your work and hope to see many more of your projects in the future.

-- John @

View FatScratch's profile


189 posts in 3303 days

#10 posted 01-28-2010 03:01 PM

A great box and a great story. Thanks for sharing.

View BillyJ's profile


622 posts in 3204 days

#11 posted 01-28-2010 03:13 PM

I know your grandfather is proud of it, as you should be too. It looks like you took your time on it, and poured your love into the project. Great job. Keep posting your projects as they are finished.

-- I've never seen a tree that I wouldn't like to repurpose into a project. I love the smell of wood in the morning - it smells like victory.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4219 days

#12 posted 01-28-2010 03:40 PM

Wonderful use of wood, and a story to match!

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

View PeteMoss's profile


207 posts in 3471 days

#13 posted 01-28-2010 04:05 PM

Wonderful job on the box, it looks great. As always though, it’s the story that matters.

-- "Never measure......cut as many times as necessary." - PeteMoss

View Andy's profile


1694 posts in 3909 days

#14 posted 01-28-2010 04:25 PM

This is outstanding! Even more so considering its your first project. Thats very brave to challenge yourself with such an involved box, I am impressed.
Your trays are well done, I like how they match the exterior.
Good save on the boo boo, we never would have guessed that it was a “Design Opportunity”.
These woods are made for each other, the walnut is the perfect frame for the picture in the spalted poplar.

I really enjoyed your story.
It brings to mind my father and grandfather, both woodworkers, and how they still influence what I do today, even though both have passed away.
Tools are just metal, but come alive in the right hands. And they can really sing when we have such a personal connection to them.

Thanks for sharing,

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

View Tony's profile


22 posts in 3043 days

#15 posted 01-28-2010 05:29 PM

This is a fantastic box and I love the story. I think any grandfather would be happy with the investment that you made in tools and very proud of your work on this box as a tribute to him. Thank you for sharing the story instead of just details on the box.

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