I just finished up a sleigh-full (well, minivan) of Christmas gifts in my shop—and just in time! I had been working on a china cabinet for my wife, but put that on hold so I could make some projects to give as Christmas gifts. As it happened, I was testing Rockler’s new box-joint jig for a router table. It works so well and so quickly that I just started whipping out simple keepsake boxes. I don’t build these from a plan, but rather make them from whatever scraps and cutoffs I can muster. Some I glue together, often mixing species, and let the size of the pieces dictate the size of the box. Then I fit it with a thin plywood bottom, make a lid and a handle, apply my mark (a cross to signify my faith in Jesus Christ), and finish it with oil and lacquer.
I ended up making 24 boxes with lids, using 18 species of wood: red oak, white oak, ash, cherry, walnut, poplar, mahogany, maple, bloodwood, purpleheart, alder, cypress, eastern red cedar, western red cedar, lacewood, mesquite, leopardwood, and padauk. There were so many my wife said my shop looked like a box warehouse. It’s a lot of fun, and my only cost is the finish. We gave 13 boxes to my daughters’ teachers this morning (cutting it close, since today is the last day of school!). Because my wife is a teacher, we both truly appreciate what educators do, so we like to give them something more than a candy cane. The rest will go to other friends and family, with one set aside for my wife. After all, she’s been very patient waiting for the china cabinet.
Next year for Christmas gifts I’m thinking of turning something on my lathe. So I’ll need to learn how to use it better than I do now!
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