Fire Starting Box

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Project by RussInMichigan posted 10-08-2011 04:37 PM 1682 views 3 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

At a yard sale I noticed a dovetailed pine box. It had no lid and a badly fitting bottom, and the woman holding the sale gave it to me. Then she told me she had dovetailed it by hand(the last photo shows them nicely). After I got it back to the workshop I thought about how it might be used and I decided to turn it into a fire starting box for my wife’s wonderful mother, DeAnna, and her just as wonderful husband, Ralph.

I made a top out of a maple drawer front from a repurposed chest of drawers, and glued it to the box. When the glue dried I cut the lid from the box. Then, refitted the bottom, rounded all the edges and corners, sanded to 180. I gave it a coat of Watco oil in walnut. I let the oil cure for three days then sprayed on several coats of clear gloss Helmsman varnish. Then, I added a handle, hinges and a draw clasp.

To facilitate fire starting I put in a box of wooden matches, a lighter, and a dozen “cupcakes,” made by mixing melted paraffin with saw dust, and putting globs of the mix into a paper baking cups in a muffin pan. These light very easily, and when my wife and kids and I tested them out they burned for about 45 minutes.

I figured it was good new use for a wooden box having a lot of value added in those dovetails.

3 comments so far

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 3088 days

#1 posted 10-09-2011 05:18 PM

Very Cool Project, this is what it is all about, Life, friends, and the real meaning of what we do and how we spend out time, I think that’s a great story, kind gesture, and really tells the story of how woodworking joins us together in a special way, thanks for sharing

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2467 days

#2 posted 10-10-2011 03:51 AM

Very interesting piece. How many of us here would take someone else’s so so project, rework it and add a fine top with chunky hardware – all instead of just taking it home to toss old metal bits in? Nice save, nice thought.
BTW, did you deliberately use the wrong white balance to give everything a fiery look? Yes? Perfect.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 2750 days

#3 posted 10-10-2011 12:08 PM

Thanks for the kind words, lumberjocks.

vipond33, I didn’t deliberately use the wrong color balance, but it was a conscious choice not to change it digitally when I saw that “fiery” look.

I gave the box to my parents in law yesterday and they loved it. It’s an interesting coincidence that Ralph, my father in law, just began building a fire pit in his back yard.

Have a great one.

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