My sister and her husband in Indiana recently adopted a one-year-old girl from South Korea. Since this is their first child, she asked me to make a set of building blocks for her. So I did just that, making over 100 total blocks in 12 different shapes. I made them from cutoffs from 2×10 and 2×12 Douglas fir construction lumber. After they were all cut out and sanded smooth with edges rounded over, my wife and daughters and I painted each shape a different color. Then I stacked all the blocks into a haystack-like shape, measured the stack’s dimensions, and built a box to store all the blocks. I made it about an inch larger in all three dimensions so my niece wouldn’t have to be precise in stacking the blocks back into the box. The box is also made of Douglas fir, with 3/8-inch box joints at the corners and Rockler Lid-Stay Torsion Hinges on the lid to keep it from slamming on her fingers. This was not a particularly difficult project, but it sure was fun to do knowing she’d have lots of fun playing with the blocks for years to come. And, when they came to visit us in Iowa a month ago, in true kid fashion, she liked playing in the box almost as much as playing with the blocks.
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.