Keepsake Box for my daughter's wedding

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Project by Schwieb posted 755 days ago 3343 views 9 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This box was made for my wonderful daughter, Laura, as part of my wedding gift to her. It would be used at the wedding reception to receive cards from guests. It partners with a previous post on LJs I wanted it to be something special and it came to me that since both her grandfathers were woodworkers, that using wood that belonged to them would be pretty special. As I thought about it more, I saw it as a means to weave her heritage out of woods that were a part of her history into the gifts. I confess I borrowed freely from some ideas I got from fellow LJs and I acknowledge the inspiration. The box is about 10” x 16” x 6” to give a point of reference.

I had some Black Ash that came from enlarging a window opening in a log cabin that was built by my Great-grandfather around 1870 in NW Ohio. This log cabin still stands and is lived in today, and still in the family. There is a lot of story behind this that I can’t write about here but it seemed the perfect choice to re-saw and use for the main part of the box. It was really fine, tight grained and with a little calculating, I figure the tree began life 250 years ago, that would be around 1760. To honor this tree in this way was a George Nakashima moment for me. I had some beautiful Curly Maple and Walnut that belonged to my Dad, enough to do what I needed. I contacted her Uncle Gilbert, only son of Laura’s other grandfather and also a woodworker. I told him what I was planning and asked him to send me some wood that belonged to his Dad. He found some small pieces of Burr Oak. Keeping with the heritage thought I contacted Thomas (Sodabowski) and he was so kind as to send some wood from France which would connect her French heritage symbolically. Now I just had to figure out how to incorporate all these parts and pieces of wood. I had no plans other than the sketches I made.

There are 3 basic elements, the main box, the top, and the base.

Here is a view of the separate base showing the 1/4” rare earth magnet arrangement, corresponding magnets were set in the bottom of the box. This was more than adequate to hold the base securely and created a secret compartment. I placed some special letters describing the heritage of the woods; what they were; and where they came from, in that compartment and plan to put a copy of this post as well.

I wanted some handles so I decided to turn them as seen here. I used the method of separating the segments with paper and it worked perfectly.

Thomas (Sodabowski) will recognize the Spalted Beech medallion he sent. I had it laser engraved. Hope you don’t take offense to being on the bottom, but everybody looks. I simply could not figure out how to incorporate the rest of the stuff you sent in this project, but I do promise you will see them somewhere in the future.

I developed a stop for the top to rest on when the box was open out of some walnut burl. You can also see the slightly raised lip of Walnut on the inside of the box with a corresponding inset in the top to help it seal, I borrowed this idea from the humidor builders. I planned the layout of this inlay and machined the dado before I assembled and then cut the box apart. Little room for error in doing that.

My photography cannot do justice to the Curly Walnut and Maple, it is simply beautiful. I incorporated the Burr Oak as splines in the corners of the top and base and the Walnut splines in the mitered corners of the box and the corner inset to reinforce the corners and add some contrast. I finished it with several coats of tung oil, light sanding, steel wool and elbow grease between coats. I cannot help but wonder what my Dad would have said about it and if I could coax a compliment out of him.

I submit the last photos out of humility. When you get busy and have a mission, the shop gets messy.

Thank you for looking and comments and critiques.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

24 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


112002 posts in 2183 days

#1 posted 755 days ago

Wow Ken you hit the mark it certainly is something special .Super photo work up too.

-- Custom furniture

View Dusty56's profile


11639 posts in 2294 days

#2 posted 755 days ago

This is just PERFECT in every way , as well as being a beautiful expression of your love : )
Nice job !!
Someday I hope to achieve this skill level !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Dusty56's profile


11639 posts in 2294 days

#3 posted 755 days ago

On another note , I forgot to mention how much I like your outfeed / storage/ work bench area : )
Great use of space !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Stephen Fox's profile

Stephen Fox

90 posts in 2000 days

#4 posted 755 days ago

Be sure that your daughter has and keeps your description of the building of this box,the materials and history. Too often items with a family history have great stories that get lost over time. I know that if my mother had not done that with some of our family treasures the stories would be gone by now. Great box, greater story.

-- Stephen NYS

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6646 posts in 2585 days

#5 posted 755 days ago

Hi Ken;

This is really fantastic. I hope your daughter understands just how much she means to you, and appreciates it.

Your work (and shop), is really beautiful.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Monte Pittman's profile (online now)

Monte Pittman

13392 posts in 944 days

#6 posted 755 days ago

The box is beautiful, the story and effort is more beautiful.

As far as a messy shop, that’s not a mess! I can show you a mess!

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11099 posts in 1711 days

#7 posted 755 days ago

Man that is a sweet box. You have such vibrant grain in all the pieces. Great job!!!!!!!!!!
And, I love your shop!!!................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Kookaburra's profile


745 posts in 830 days

#8 posted 755 days ago

I know you are not my dad but my sister Laura is getting married in September. If only I could make her something as special at this. I guarantee that she will cry when you give it to her.

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 1724 days

#9 posted 755 days ago

Beautiful box and craftsmanship, many extras make this a real eye catcher, they will treasure this always, Great job, thanks for sharing

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View stefang's profile


12611 posts in 1940 days

#10 posted 755 days ago

Another wonderful project for you daughter. I’m sure she will treasure it forever as a symbol of your love for her.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View ruddy's profile


395 posts in 1545 days

#11 posted 755 days ago

A great project and an even greater story. Congratulations.

-- And my head I'd be a scratchin'

View sedcokid's profile


2663 posts in 2204 days

#12 posted 755 days ago

Oh, Doc….. What a beautiful box and what a history that you gave to your daughter and husband. Your choice of wood and finish is right on!!

Thanks for sharing

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

1889 posts in 1167 days

#13 posted 755 days ago

Wonderful work. Outstanding on the Curly woods and the Monogram inside too.


-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View gfadvm's profile


10606 posts in 1296 days

#14 posted 755 days ago

A beautiful keepsake that your daughter will treasure forever and a great backstory to go with it. I love the joinery in this box. You are a true craftsman.

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

View Stormy's profile


160 posts in 803 days

#15 posted 755 days ago

Amazing box and what a grand connections with heritage. Winner!!

-- Stormy: Sometimes the wood just tells you what it wants to be.

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