Cherry Carpenter's Toolbox Urn




Introduction: Cherry Carpenter's Toolbox Urn

About: I have an unhealthy relationship with pallet wood. I make fast paced and entertaining build videos on my YouTube channel that are made for everyone, but with the ultimate goal to get the younger generations ex…

This box is an urn for my grandfather who died this past month at the age of 82. He was a cabinet maker by trade and did the full range of carpentry and woodworking. The only safety warnings that will ever resonate with me came from him, I picture his 9 fingers every time I go to use a saw. This was built from rustic cherry, which was just a really funky grain cherry that had been hanging around for a while. The name plate is acrylic that I frosted with my hand sander and the whole box was finished with tung oil.


Notable Materials:

> Cherry board

> Wood Glue

> 1/4" Plywood

> 1/8" Acrylic

> Walnut Wedges

> Tongue Oil

Notable Tools:

> Thickness Planer

> Miter Saw

> Paint Scrapper (for glue)

> Dovetail Jig

> Bandsaw

> Disk Sander

> Belt Sander

> Forstner Bit

> Chisel

> Mallet

> Router Bits

> Random Orbit Sander

> Router Table Lift

Step 1: Sizing of Material

The whole box is built from this rustic cherry plank. It's a really curly grained piece of cherry that's been hanging around for a while, should make for a good look. I plane it down to 3/4" in the thickness planer.

I cut all the pieces to size by ripping them down to width and cutting them to rough length on the miter saw.

For the tall sides of the boxes the board wasn't wide enough so I glued a couple of pieces together and clamped them and let them dry. Then I scrape off the excess glue and sand them smooth.

At this point I sort all the pieces out to determine what will be the outside show face and mark this to help for when I cut the joints.

I can then cut all of the sides to final size on the miter saw.

Step 2: Cutting Dovetails & Handle

To attach the corners of the box, I'm using dovetails. Since I'm just a mere mortal I pull out my dovetail jig to do this.

Two of the perpendicular sides are mounted in the jig and the joints are cut. The same process is repeated for all 4 corners.

This piece here is going to be the handle spanning across the top of the tool box. I mark out the shape using a tape measure and trace a curve made from this thin PVC sheet.

The handle is cut down to size on the bandsaw and sanded to final shape on the disk sander and belt sander.

Step 3: Cutting Handle Joint & Top Groove

The handles are joined with a mortise and tenon joint into the sides so I trace out where these are going to be located so I can cut the mortise.

The bulk of the material is removed with a forstner bit in the drill press.

Then for final shaping a chisel is used.

I need to cut a slot before assembly for installation of the top while these surfaces are still accessible. I'm careful to cut this over a pin in the sides so the groove is hidden.

Step 4: Assembly

Now all the pieces are cut and ready for assembly! Notice I also cut some slots in the ends of the handle, these will be used later.

The corner joints are all glued together along with the handle where it passes through the sides. It's a bit of a deceptively tricky glue-up because the handle and top panel all have to be installed before the box can go together.

The mallet starts pulling the joints together, but I finish that with some clamps.

Part for decoration and part to hold the joint together, I install some walnut accent wedges to expand the handle out tight to the joint.

Step 5: Fitting the Bottom

Right now the bottom is open and I want to seal that off with some thin 1/4" plywood. I adjust a rabeting bit in my router table to the right height for the plywood.

I cut this rabet around the perimeter of the bottom of the box and then just need to square off the corners with a chisel.

The plywood bottom is screwed in place so that it can be removed later for the ashes and then sealed back up.

Then it's just a matter of doing the final sanding, rounding over some corners, and softening the rest.

Step 6: Plaque

I want the box to have a little bit more personalization so I mount a piece of 1/8" acrylic in my CNC to engrave his name.

For some color contrast, I spray black spray paint on the plaque and then rub off the excess.

I then decide to make the acrylic slightly opaque by hitting it quickly with the sander.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

To finish the box I use tongue oil, it really brings out the grain and gives it this awesome depth plus it gives it a bit of a shine.

Last step is to attach the name plaque to the front of the box. I pre-drill and attach it with a screw on each corner.

Step 8: Glamour Shots!

Thanks for checking out this build, this was a particularly powerful build for me.

Be sure to checkout the video for the full experience:

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    5 years ago

    Sorry for your loss. I didn't know urns could be anything but a vaselike container. This is so much more memorable. Just lost my mom, hang in there.


    5 years ago

    Really like the nice accent on the end of the handles. Well done!


    5 years ago

    A very nice, and meaningful instructable! Family is very important, and being able to honor him and his life work in this way must have been wonderfully fulfilling.

    Waste Of Space
    Waste Of Space

    5 years ago

    I think you may have meant to write 'tung oil' not 'tongue oil'.


    5 years ago

    I'm so sorry for your loss. This is a really beautiful way to remember him.


    5 years ago

    This is so much nicer and appropriate than the 'commercially' available urns. And of course the fact that it was home made by someone who cared about him just adds that much more meaning to it. I am sorry for your loss, but happy that you found a good way to pay tribute and respect to him.


    Reply 5 years ago

    Thanks for the kind words. This project definitely was very closing for me.

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    I really like how you were able to personalize this. I hope that I will be able to do something similar for my parents when the time comes.


    Reply 5 years ago

    Thank you! It was such an awesome project to build despite the circumstances.