A couple of days ago while I was doing some stuff in the workshop, suddenly this ugly looking wood block from an old pallet striked my eye. But in my view it wasn't ugly at all. It had a clear vision of it, what it would look like with a little passion and even more elbow grease. So I saved this small wood block which alread suffered by living the tough life recently in the workshop. It has been used as a bumper for hammering so it had one side complete smashed with hammering marks while the other one had some punching marks and all over it there have been nail and screw holes. But the top side really caught my attention. It had a slightly cambered surface which reminded me of an old treasure chest. So I decided to give this poor littly buddy a second live as an small treasure chest. During the following steps you will see the measures which have been necessary to transform it from ugly to a real beauty.
Step 1: What You Need.
- wood block
- circular saw/band saw/miter saw etc.
- sander and sandpaper with different grits
- forstner bit
- jewel case hinges and latch
- boiled linseed oil or other wood oil
- white spirit
- brush or cloth
Step 2: Cutting Off the Lid (isn't the Best Choice).
ATTENTION: This shouldn't be your first step if you want to make similar things like this. Looking back onto this project I do not know at all why I started with cutting of the lid. The following steps would have been so much easier with the whole block as one solid piece instead of having to separated parts.
But anyway I remember this one as a lesson I learned and lived with the consequences of my dumb first decision.
So I cut off the lid with a circular saw in 4 steps rotating the block 90° after every single cut because the saw i used has only a very small cutting depth. A circular saw isn't the most appropriat tool for a cut like this, but I hadn't any other possibility for doing this cut. A miter saw or a band saw for example would have been much better for doing this cut I guess. But especially by cutting small pieces likes this one you should always watch your fingers and use your safety gears.
Step 3: Sanding, Sanding, Sanding.
Due to the fact that I haven't got my belt sander till then, I just quickly built myself a drill powered disc sander. I started with some 80 grit sandpaper on the disc for smooting down all the rough spots on the wood block. I taped the lid back onto the base so I could sand them together. So this would have been much easier if I already didn't do the cut in the first step.
The remaining sanding with 100, 180 and 240 grit paper I then just used a flat sheet of sanding paper and a lot of elbow grease till it was smooth enough for me. I really liked how all the imperfections of the wood came out during the sanding process. So you can still see that this piece of wood has got some history behind hence the feeling of the surface is still super smooth.
Step 4: Hollowing Out the Inside.
After all the sanding some easy work followed. For hollowing out the inside of the treasure chest I used my biggest forstner bit and a drill press. Unfortunately my biggest size was a 35mm forstner bit, so a pretty big wall thickness was the result. But anyway, forstner bits are expensive and I didn't want to buy a new, bigger size just for this little project and the litte space inside is still okay by me. Be sure to measure out how deep you want to drill out the inside and consider that the middle tip of the drill bit goes a little bit deeper than the rest and you don't want to mess up at this point by drilling to deep after all that sanding. Also make sure that your drill press is adjusted at a low speed and you only drill with little pressure to prevent the drill to become too hot. After the hole is at the final depth take a small piece of sanding paper and smoothen out the inside as well.
Step 5: Attaching the Hinges and the Latch.
For a perfect allignment of the lid and the base of the treasure chest, I fixed it together with some tape to make mounting of the hinges and the latch as easy as possible.Be sure that you use some tape which won't leave any glue marks after removing it from the wood.
For perfect positioning of the hinges and the latch I measured out the postion where they should be and attached them also with some tape. Then I nailed the latch and screwed in the hinges. Due to the fact that the brass screws aren't very durable, it is essential to pre-drill the holes.
After attaching the hinges and the latch remove the tape and check if it opens and closes properly.
Step 6: Oiling It.
As a finish I decided for a couple of layers of linseed oil. The one I got needs to be thinned down with some white spirit in a 1:1 ratio. I used a plastic shot glass for measuring the liquids at mixed them together in an old jar using a chopstick. I have a whole bunch of them collected in a drawer just because they are so perfect for mixing paint. I wanted to oil the whole thing in one step so I used a wooden board with 4 screws in it on which I can put the oiled up box for drying. So when everything is prepared for the oiling process dip the cloth into the mixed oil and apply it onto the wood. After a couple of minutes when all sides are oiled up wipe off the excess oil with the cloth and let it dry. I repeated the process a couple of times to get the box all over equally shiny. Especially all the imperfections like nail and screw holes, but also the natural grain patter came out so cool with the oil applied.
Step 7: Padding the Inside.
To make the inside of the box a little bit more classy looking I used some black fabric and stuffed a small piece of it into the hole and draped it carefully. You can also use some velvet or similar which would make it even more precious looking.
Step 8: Put Your Tiny Treasures Inside.
Now the treasure chest is completely transformed from ugly into a real beauty and so it is ready to keep some of your tiny treasures inside. In my case I recently got some bismuth which is a really cool looking chemical element. Due to the fact that the crystalline structure of bismuth is kind of fragile it defenitly needs some protection or otherwise it breaks into smaller pieces apart. So my treasure chest was just perfect for it.