Two Kids, Two Weddings, Two Keepsake Boxes

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Project by Ron Stewart posted 11-15-2017 12:04 AM 1599 views 3 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Both of our kids got married this year (son in August, daughter in November) to wonderful spouses, and I (in consultation with my wife) built these keepsake boxes for them as wedding gifts. They’re made of walnut and ambrosia maple, finished with boiled linseed oil and shellac. The hinges are Highpoint side rail hinges. (If you’re interested in using these hinges but haven’t used them before, I wrote a detailed tutorial about them.)

The genesis of these boxes was a sketch of Burritt Mansion, a historic house and now museum in the mountains in eastern Huntsville, that my wife and I bought over 30 years ago when we moved to the area. When we learned that my son and his fiancée chose Burritt as their wedding venue, my wife wanted to find some creative way to give them that sketch, and we eventually came up with the idea of integrating it into the inside lid of a keepsake box.

I designed the first box around that sketch. Its dimensions dictated the box’s length (11 1/4”) and width (8 3/4”), and some SketchUp work led us to the right height (3”). Those dimensions influenced the thickness of the sides (1/2”) and top/bottom panels (3/8”). The top/bottom panels float in slots in the sides with their surfaces flush with the sides’ edges.

We didn’t have a historically significant sketch for my daughter and her fiancĂ©’s box, but we still wanted something equally meaningful. I was fortunate enough to be at their wedding venue (Cedar Grove Acres near Durham) on the day they chose it, and I used Picassa to convert one of the photos I took into a sketch. It shows them walking through a trellis leading into the meadow where they would later be married.

I wanted their boxes to share common elements like the sketches and the wood. I was even able to make the sides of both boxes from the same board. I like the idea of the boxes having a common origin, just like our kids.

I don’t have illusions about the quality of my woodworking. I try to build functional pieces that are as beautiful as I can make them, but I don’t see my pieces as being of heirloom or museum quality like many of the projects I see posted here. In this case, I hope these boxes outlive me and that one day, long after I’m gone, my kids will open them and think of their old dad, and remember that he loved them and was proud of them even though he didn’t say it a dozen times a month like their mom did.

Sorry for getting so sentimental, but these boxes are very special to me. Thanks for looking.

-- Ron Stewart

13 comments so far

View 489tad's profile


3240 posts in 2824 days

#1 posted 11-15-2017 02:06 AM

The boxes look great. I really like the idea of a wedding keepsake box. Under the lid is a nice touch.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View BB1's profile


818 posts in 661 days

#2 posted 11-15-2017 03:52 AM

Very nice! These look great, thanks for sharing the steps you took to make each special. Wonderfully thoughtful gifts.

View Boxguy's profile


2436 posts in 2080 days

#3 posted 11-15-2017 09:43 AM

Ron, I like the looks of your boxes and the outline on the inside lid is a great touch. Well done. Excellent choice of wood colors that provide blend and contrast to the boxes. The hinges look neat and well done.

I think any woodworker worth his or her salt can sympathize with your wish that some of your work will live on with your children. Here’s hoping these fine creations will be treasured through the ages.

-- Big Al in IN

View Peteybadboy's profile


203 posts in 1762 days

#4 posted 11-15-2017 11:18 AM

Nice workmanship, I also get a little emotional when I make something for family and friends.

-- Petey

View helluvawreck's profile


28738 posts in 2680 days

#5 posted 11-15-2017 02:00 PM

Ron, these boxes are so beautiful and nicely done. I love the design and the wood is wonderful.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Ron Stewart's profile

Ron Stewart

103 posts in 2317 days

#6 posted 11-15-2017 02:14 PM

Thanks for the comments. I really appreciate them.

-- Ron Stewart

View splintergroup's profile


1634 posts in 1035 days

#7 posted 11-15-2017 03:32 PM

Yes, those inner lids really make them special. A lot of thought went into these boxes!

View Softshell's profile


28 posts in 469 days

#8 posted 11-15-2017 04:14 PM

Awesome idea with the drawings in the box lids! Very nice looking boxes. You children will be proud. And will also think of you each time they open them.

View leafherder's profile


1261 posts in 1765 days

#9 posted 11-15-2017 11:32 PM

What a great and meaningful gift, these will surely become family heirlooms with a great story behind them. Thanks for sharing.

-- Leafherder

View dannmarks's profile


342 posts in 394 days

#10 posted 11-16-2017 12:14 AM

I love this.

View BburgBoy's profile


11 posts in 315 days

#11 posted 11-17-2017 10:29 AM

Ron, Beautiful boxes and thanks for sharing. But thanks especially for your explanation of the drawing technique. Learning new techniques and getting new ideas are why most of us hang around websites like this. I appreciate that you shared some of your planning, rather than simply posting photos… of really great boxes.

-- Larry, SW Virginia

View Randy M.'s profile

Randy M.

110 posts in 1064 days

#12 posted 11-17-2017 11:02 PM

Wow just saw these and each is very distinctive and well done. I am sure they will like treasure them

-- Do it with your heart in it.........

View Blackberry's profile


87 posts in 966 days

#13 posted 11-19-2017 04:57 AM

Fantastic gift, they’ll be cherished for a looooong time. Well done.

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