"My Tell-Tale Heart"

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Project by Triumph1 posted 02-08-2011 02:18 PM 3304 views 6 times favorited 31 comments Add to Favorites Watch

“My Tell-Tale Heart” box series was designed and created to celebrate my younger brother’s wedding. Right from the start I knew I wanted to make them a special box. They got married on Halloween which was a big influence on the design. Taken from one the most famous pieces of gothic literature, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edger Alan Poe, I translated the beating of the heart in the floor boards to something a little more cheerful….the sounds of their hearts beating for each other. Since you can’t really do the sound part in wood I represented the heart beating with morse code. Looking at the boxes you will see there are four separate stands, each containing a different style of box. The four styles represent the word “LOVE” spelled out in morse code. One pictures shows the “L” boxes off their stand and how the stand itself contains the dots and dashes needed to signify the letter “L”.

L : ..-.
V: ...-
E: .

The main bodies of the “L” boxes are made from East Indian Rosewood. The lid has a floating panel of quilted maple and all the edges are lined in curly maple. A miter joint was used. The grain of the rosewood is continuous around the box.

The “O” boxes are made from quartersawn sycamore and bocote. I used a mortise and tenon joint along with handmade 1/8” ebony dowels to make it. The lids are held in place using brass pins. The shape of the box was made using a drill press, bandsaw, oscillating spindle sander and hand rasps.

The main bodies of the “V” boxes are made from curly maple using a miter joint. Black walnut splines where used to strengthen the joints. The lids are made from ziracote and curly maple handles turned on the lathe.

The “E” box is made from a lamination of wenge/bloodwood/wenge. I used miter joints. I did the shaping on an OSS. I loved how sanding into the box exposed the bloodwood. The lid is made from wenge. Hard to see but it has a very asian inspired shape.

All the bases are made from black walnut. After constructing them I ebonized them using a steel wool/vinegar mixture. After that I texturized the angle cut sides using a 3/8” router bit on a Foredom, which exposed fresh black walnut. Finished with that I then stained them with a dark reddish mahogany stain. It made the ebonizing even darker and the carved areas became a mixture of dark red and black. All the stands are lined in red velvet to really make the morse code pop out. Items can also be placed in the stands since the boxes all lift off.

All the boxes are lined in black velvet. Size wise I tried to keep everything in a 2.5” scale meaning the dot boxes are around 2.5” x 2.5” x 2.5” and the dash boxes are 5” x 2.5” x 2.5”. The boxes and stands all got 3 soakings of Danish oil. The boxes where polished using a Beall system and the bases got a liquid wax applied. Overall there is over 5 feet of boxes! Crazy enough I actually made two sets of these. was quite the build time. Six pictures is definitely not enough to describe/show the boxes.. I have more pictures and will see if I can load them on. I also know there were different morse code systems out there so this may be different than one you have seen elsewhere.

I hope you enjoy it! Let’s keep making that sawdust!

-- Jeff , Wisconsin Please...can I stay in the basement a little longer, please!

31 comments so far

View Muriel's profile


101 posts in 2715 days

#1 posted 02-08-2011 02:37 PM

Incredible, this is really a unique piece of work !
Congratulations for the wonderful idea and the perfect look !

-- Muriel, Belgium

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2827 days

#2 posted 02-08-2011 02:40 PM

Very awesome project Jeff. really nice way beyond kool

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View patron's profile


13606 posts in 3364 days

#3 posted 02-08-2011 02:55 PM

this is truly inspirational work jeff

from concept to build

you have set the bar very high

and placed real love
where it belongs

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

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 2976 days

#4 posted 02-08-2011 03:00 PM

Great project, lovely boxes, and a lot of ‘em!! Great work, as always. The effect is powerful.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View rkoorman's profile


381 posts in 2847 days

#5 posted 02-08-2011 03:15 PM

Just like your other project this one is amazing. It’s going in my inspiration-drawer



View Spoontaneous's profile


1334 posts in 3352 days

#6 posted 02-08-2011 03:26 PM

Out-totally-standing! Every component, including the concept, is top drawer. I’d be content to make one of those little boxes.. but you’ve managed a whole ‘train’.... The Love Train. The recipients will be over-joyed.

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 3550 days

#7 posted 02-08-2011 03:34 PM


That is some great deductive reasoning. Coming up with that idea is awesome, but to then accomplish it with such unique, beautiful builds too, well, it’s hard to take so much greatness at once.
I bet you get a lot of blank stares at times, from people that just can’t believe you when you present your projects as your own. Probably either blow their minds or the can’t fit it in their reality.

This is why we are at LJ’s, to see talent like this, and be inspired. Thanks…..................

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3905 days

#8 posted 02-08-2011 03:51 PM

Absolutely wonderful.
Jeff, I want to come study under you.
You definitely have to do more blog posts to show some of your skills.

I am just blown away,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Cliff De Witt 's profile

Cliff De Witt

130 posts in 2715 days

#9 posted 02-08-2011 04:30 PM



-- Trying to find an answer to my son’s question: “…and forming organic cellulose by spinning it on its axis is interesting, why?”

View Dale J Struhar Sr's profile

Dale J Struhar Sr

494 posts in 3153 days

#10 posted 02-08-2011 04:42 PM

Absolutely beautiful. Great creation and hand craftmanship.

-- Dale, Ohio

View sras's profile


4806 posts in 3152 days

#11 posted 02-08-2011 04:48 PM

In addition to the great skill in putting these boxes together, the concept and symbolism are oustanding! This is so impressive – a very special gift indeed. Thanks for sharing.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View scroller1947's profile


26 posts in 2875 days

#12 posted 02-08-2011 05:05 PM

A truly unique exercise in design and creativity….. and craftsmanship! Great job!

View Cozmo35's profile


2200 posts in 3058 days

#13 posted 02-08-2011 05:29 PM

You are a talented and intelligent individual. Anyone can see that there was a lot of though and effort put into this. I am sure you brother and his bride will always cherish this!

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3331 days

#14 posted 02-08-2011 06:17 PM

Excellent and impressive as usual. I always enjoy seeing your work and creative designs…

View gbear's profile


512 posts in 4122 days

#15 posted 02-08-2011 06:41 PM

Very unique and very beautiful. Having learned morse code when I was a kid to get my ham radio license
this is even more special. Great job and imagination.

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

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