Graduation Gift Keepsake Boxes

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Project by William posted 05-10-2012 01:23 AM 2979 views 1 time favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was one of those evolving projects that took me a fair amount past what it was originally supposed to be. In the beginning, it was meant to only be a simple keepsake box for my daughter as a graduation gift.
Then it came into being that I was going to make two keepsake boxes. The second was for her best friend, who is almost like a sister to her.
Then the simple box idea grew from there.
The following photos will show how the boxes come apart.

This is my daughter’s box, completely closed up.

The two piece lids come off to reveal the top two small boxes.

Then those two smaller boxes can be removed to reveal a larger box under that.

Then that larger box can be removed to reveal the bottom box.

In this last photo, you can see how I cut the bottoms of the middle large box and the two top smaller boxes so that they would sort of nestle inside of each other.

After I thought to make these boxes this way I wanted to put their school initials and graduation year in scrolled letter on the side. I was also thinking around the same time about what style handles I wanted for the top lids. So I decided to scroll the lettering from three quarter inch material and use that for the lids. So “WCHS” makes up for one lid of a smaller box, and “2012” for the other.
After that, I still wanted something along the sides to sort of break it up. Then I figured that, since both of these girls will be sharing a dorm room in the fall at college, it would be a good idea for their initial to be on the side to tell them apart.

The darker wood is mahogany. The light colored wood is cottonwood.
It is finished with three coats of Minwax Polyurethane. For the final coat I tried something that I had read about and had been meaning to try. I read somewhere about mixing half and half polyurethane and denatured alcohol for a wet look. It turned out great. I don’t think the photos capture it, but when I went to check on them after allowing them to dry for about sixteen hours this morniing, I was scared to touch them. They looked like the finish was still wet. I checked first on the backside, but yes, the finish was dry as a bone. I will definately be trying this method on different woods in the future.


22 comments so far

View Martyroc's profile


2708 posts in 1391 days

#1 posted 05-10-2012 01:28 AM

These are nice boxes, the joints look nice and tight. Pretty amazing how a lot of our projects start with one idea and grow to the unexpected sometimes. I bet your daughter and her BFF love these.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View William's profile


9515 posts in 1928 days

#2 posted 05-10-2012 01:37 AM

Thank you Marty.
I hope they like them.
I guess it is amazing the way ideas evolve. I wish my wife understood that though. She’s gotten lately where she gets aggeevated with me because she says I don’t know how to keep anything simple, just simple. I have to add to it until it become a week long project. I hear her sometimes now, instead of asking for something, instead asking if I can make her such and such in less than a day. Nope, can’t do it.


View Dave's profile


11256 posts in 1925 days

#3 posted 05-10-2012 01:38 AM

Those will be wonderful gifts William. Way to put those jigs to use. Great job. I like the contrast in the woods.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View William's profile


9515 posts in 1928 days

#4 posted 05-10-2012 01:39 AM

Thanks Super.
I like the contrast too. I’m thinking of making some boxes with light wood on two sides and dark wood on the other two. I think that would loo real nice.
Either that or it would look tacky, but there’s only one way to find out.


View eddie's profile


7744 posts in 1699 days

#5 posted 05-10-2012 01:59 AM

those are going to be some happy girls William , they look great and the finish i may try that on my next project did you spray it on ?. they look great they will have these for many years to come .your one of the good fathers they are not always that .i admire that in a man , great build

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View William's profile


9515 posts in 1928 days

#6 posted 05-10-2012 02:06 AM

The finish is brushed on Eddie.
I don’t have the ability to spray finish.
I finally bought a halfway decent gun to find out that my crappy compressor won’t keep up, and there is no way I can afford a compressor anytime soon. Besides that, until this one craps out, I can’t justify the cost anyway.


View boxcarmarty's profile


11191 posts in 1445 days

#7 posted 05-10-2012 02:06 AM

S.I.M.P.L.E. Hmmmm, Let’s take a closer look at that…..

Good lookin’ boxes anyway. I’ll have to remember the half and half…..

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2071 days

#8 posted 05-10-2012 02:06 AM

Really pretty boxes. :) I have to say I would have cherished something like this much more than a lot of the things I got for graduation! I bet they’ll pass these down, eventually.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View DIYaholic's profile (online now)


17999 posts in 1760 days

#9 posted 05-10-2012 02:12 AM

Who wood have thunk, BOX JOINTS on a box!!! Where did you come up with that idea.Lol.

Those boxes look fantastic. The girls WILL cherish them for many years to come.

Great job, love the contrast.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View William's profile


9515 posts in 1928 days

#10 posted 05-10-2012 02:27 AM

Thank you all.

Simple. I said simple. They’re simple.

Thank you. I do hope my kids cherish the things I make them in years to come when I am gone. I wish now I had more of my loved ones that passed on. When my grandmother died (she raised me), different family members were worried about valuables. When it came to someone asking what I wanted, I only wanted one thing. There was a plaque that always hung over my grandmother’s sink with her name and some ducks painted on it. That plaque still hangs over my sink and I’ll bet you it means more to me than any of that other crap the other family members were arguing over.

Yes, I thought I’d do the unthinkable and put box joints on it.
And by the way, that’s supposed to be one single word, whodathunkit.


View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

8613 posts in 2005 days

#11 posted 05-10-2012 09:26 AM

They look really good, William! The girls will love them. Like everyone said – I am sure they will cherish them for a lifetime. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Roger's profile


17850 posts in 1889 days

#12 posted 05-10-2012 11:25 AM

Oh yes! Very nicely done William. Gr8 lookin box joints for gr8 lookin boxes. Nice lettering also

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

View William's profile


9515 posts in 1928 days

#13 posted 05-10-2012 11:58 AM

Thank you two very much.

Roger, I forgot to mention the lettering patterns until you brought it up.
The letters were made using something called the Scrollsaw Pattern Printer that is available on Steve Goode’s website, Scrollsaw Workshop.


View patron's profile


13420 posts in 2426 days

#14 posted 05-10-2012 11:38 PM

well done william

at first glance
they reminded me of bee hives

after reading and looking them over
i realized they kind of are

the ‘queen’s’ will be busy
loading them up
with all their treasures

good build

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

View gfadvm's profile (online now)


13924 posts in 1775 days

#15 posted 05-11-2012 01:41 AM

Those are absolutely amazing! Your design is very unique and your daughter and her roommate won’t have to worry about all their friends having one just like theirs. You are getting a lot of mileage from your new jig and that has to be very rewarding. Now for the question: You mixed DNA and Poly 50:50? What brand of Poly? And then brushed on several coats? This whole project was one innovation after another and you made them all work!!! Good on you.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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