Shallow Ship's Wheel Shadow Box

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Project by Jchon Paradise posted 2461 days ago 2987 views 7 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Several months ago, my brother-in-law approached me and asked if I’d be willing to make a shadow box for his grandfather (a Navy Pearl Harbor survivor). He let me know that it would need to be done by Thanksgiving Day, as that is when his grandfather would be in town, but as I am too accustomed to doing, I put it off and put it off. Until crunch-time came and I only have a couple days to get it done.

After a couple sessions in the workshop, and some last-minute (literally) placement of medals, my brother-in-law was able to present the Ship’s Wheel to his grandfather while the whole family was gathered for Thanksgiving.

I had never really experienced it before, but it really was humbling in a way for someone of his generation to seek me out in the crowd of people to shake my hand.

-- Jchon - Denton, TX

14 comments so far

View cajunpen's profile


14375 posts in 2690 days

#1 posted 2461 days ago

Wow Jchon – that is outstanding. I would have loved to see the look on the Hero’s face when he received it. Did you turn the wheel’s spokes (not sure what they are called)? Again, nice work and a great cause.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 2785 days

#2 posted 2461 days ago

very touching. chills.
a wonderful piece.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Dadoo's profile


1763 posts in 2615 days

#3 posted 2461 days ago

Nice. Real nice tribute.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View wwnovice's profile


104 posts in 2811 days

#4 posted 2461 days ago

Interesting story, and nice job. Can you explain how your formed the circle?

-- John

View Grumpy's profile


19378 posts in 2476 days

#5 posted 2461 days ago

Very nice job. I am sure that getting some appreciation for what you did for the war vet goes a long way.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View TomFran's profile


2942 posts in 2619 days

#6 posted 2461 days ago

That is a super job! Very attractive design and classy wood joinery. I’m sure it is/will be treasured. Nice work!

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View Jchon Paradise's profile

Jchon Paradise

66 posts in 2576 days

#7 posted 2459 days ago

Thanks for all the great comments :o)

cajunpen – yes, I turned the wheel’s handles… I’m rather pleased with the way they turned out (no pun intended). I just put a length of 2×2 on the lathe and started turning them all in a row, without a template or measuring, just eyeing them to the first in the line to get them all alike.

wwnovice – being the first circle I’ve ever constructed, I was a little concerned before starting this project, but having completed it now, I feel I could really pound out a ton of them with no problem. I just chose the number of sections I wanted to have (12 in this case), multiplied that times the number of sides I’d have to angle (2) and divided that number into the number of degrees in a circle (360). 360 / (12×2) = 15. That told me that each side of my 12 pieces (I used 5”x 4” pieces) would need to be cut to 15 degrees in order to form my dodecagon (12-sided polygon). After adding some bloodwood “stitching” for both looks and joinery, I glued them all together. I then attached the dodecagon to a piece of plywood of about the same size w/ sticky tape, found my center and used a nail/string/pencil to draw my inner and outer diameters. A few minutes at the band-saw and some sanding and my circle was complete.

-- Jchon - Denton, TX

View SWODADDY's profile


31 posts in 2466 days

#8 posted 2457 days ago

Very nice job. I am in the Navy and am always going to retirement ceremonies. This would be great to give as a gift to them. All I nned to do is figure out how to turn wood to make the handles. What kind of wood is it?

-- The tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goals, the tragedy of life lies in not having goals to reach for.

View Jchon Paradise's profile

Jchon Paradise

66 posts in 2576 days

#9 posted 2456 days ago

Thanks SWODADDY – the wood is nothing special – just scrap oak I had laying around from a previous project (that never happened :o).

-- Jchon - Denton, TX

View GaryCN's profile


277 posts in 2559 days

#10 posted 2013 days ago

Cutting the inner circle, did you remove the blade then thread the blade through the wheel and reinstall it?
I found your project searching for shadow box, I’m researching making a key locker for my home office
and might use this shape. It may give me a reason to purchase a lathe.
My dad served on the USS Iowa BB-61

-- Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

View Jchon Paradise's profile

Jchon Paradise

66 posts in 2576 days

#11 posted 2011 days ago

Hi Gary -

Actually – I only had a band-saw availlable to do any of the circle cuts. So I actually just left one of the joints of the circle un-joined, allowing me to slide the blade in to the inner circle and cut away. Then just slid the blade back out, glued up the joint and was good to go!

-- Jchon - Denton, TX

View GaryCN's profile


277 posts in 2559 days

#12 posted 2006 days ago

I cut the inner and outer with a router, outer first from above. Then the inner on a router table.
I’ll post some photo’s here later. I actually think that I may use it as a photo frame isstead of my
original intension. My test run came out larger than what I wanted. I used 6” on the long edge of the 15 degree cut. I may make another one at 50% scale. I have quite a bit of laminated hickory onhand
in 30” lengths 1” X random 4-6” w X 30” long. Stay tuned for update

-- Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5347 posts in 2210 days

#13 posted 2006 days ago

Very nice idea a lovely gift too I bet the old boy was delighted.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View GaryCN's profile


277 posts in 2559 days

#14 posted 2006 days ago

In progress, i have never tried anything like this. So far easier than I had anticipated.
I have quite a bit of hickory. I did not spend any time matching up grain. the wood is scrap from
industrial flooring that a friend gave me.
dodecagon glue up

dodecagon to circle

-- Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

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