Final Pictures of the School Box / Sewing Box

The school box / sewing box build is finished. I built it for my oldest daughter's 16th birthday present and she was very tickled with it. It is made from Curly Red Oak with a White Pine bottom (so it will have that wonderful pine scent when you open it) and air dried Black Walnut mouldings. The inspiration, of course came from the piece built by Chris Schwarz for the book "The Joiner and Cabinet Maker"

It was finished with three coats of boiled linseed oil on the outside and left clean on the inside. The hardware is Lee Valley unequal strap hinges (01.H20.12) and brass flat head screws. Chest handles will probably be added in the future when the right ones are found. I decided to skip the lock.

Once finished the box is bigger than I thought it would be, more of a small chest than a box. It measures 16" wide by 10 1/2" deep by around 10 3/4" tall.

Making this chest was so very satisfying, I have never gotten to work figured stock like this before and the results were fantastic. Getting to build it for someone so special was important too. I'm very happy with the way it turned out and I really don't have a lot of complaints to make. Turns out my inner Thomas was along for the ride on this one.

Here are the "glamour" shots of the piece. Thanks for looking.

Ratione et Passionis


  1. Fantastic job. Now I want to build one of these.

    1. This is what it took to convince you??

      it is seriously a cool project to build. It was kind of fun to have the tricks and experience I gathered building the tool chest fall over into this.

      Now I have two other daughters who a jealous, I have to come up with something equally as cool but different for both of them.
      I have more of this curly red oak, any ideas?

  2. Beautiful! Nice work.

    I see you skipped the lock, did you consider putting handles on the side? I always want to lift these things by the lid. Also, I have started to have some issues with wood movement making the locks difficult to operate, but this is compounded by the fact that I have been mailing them around the country to different climates. Christopher Schwarz advises that traditionally, boxes like this would be delivered without locks, and it would be up to the customer or local cabinetmaker to install them. Given the relatively homogenous climate of England, I can see how Thomas would have had few issues with his box built with a lock, but the US is making this much more difficult. I have one to ship to Hawaii, which is making me especially nervous.

    1. There may only be one other person who has built this project more times than you Rob and that's because he teaches the class on it, so the compliments mean a lot coming from you. Thank you.

      The chest handles I have on the shelf are an old, reclaimed pair off a chest my parents were throwing away, They're not bad but they're not great either, so I held off until I can get my hands on a set I like.

      The lock just seemed like too much fiddle for me at the time. I had a birthday deadline I was under. The issues with seasonal movement you've talked about also helped make the decision. Shipping one to Hawaii would make me nervous as well. I wish I had a good idea for you. but other than finding a hasp or something that would fit on the outside and be adjustable AND would look GOOD, I'm kinda feeling like Chris has the right idea.

      I guess you have to talk with your client and see how they feel, maybe see if you can connect with a woodworker who lives around there who can finish the install.

      That's a tough one my friend.

  3. Gorgeous. I love the figuring on the interior of the lid.

  4. A really lovely piece of work. Beautiful tight dovetails (I'm jealous!). And the figured wood is quite striking. Wrapping the grain patterns around the box makes a huge difference -- the one corner shot really shows it off.

    1. Thanks Scott.
      I think wrapping the grain around a piece like this is an important thing. A few extra moments of care and attention can make so much of a difference to the flow and harmony of a piece.

      Dovetails aren't a magic trick, even looking at the pictures I can pick out the mistakes I made. What you have to realize first is that you can see mistakes other people won't be able to. The next thing about dovetails is just practice cutting them. I never went through the process myself but I think the "cut a dovetail a day for (30, 60, 90) days" exercise is a good place to start if your struggling.

      Rob Cosman has some great resources out there too. I still refresh myself by watching some of his youtube videos from time to time.

  5. Nice job. I instantly saw the toolchest influences and liked them. I made a similar sized toolchest for my youngest that her sisters think would make great hope chests for the rest of the family .


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