Introduction: Firewood Jewelry Box

a few years ago I was into making boomerangs .and after making three from regular plywood with great success i decided to make one using oak from firewood .so i made some boards and did just that .but since valentine's day was approaching i decided to make more boards from fire wood and some old cedar siding to make an heirloom quality jewelry box for my girlfriend .i wasn't nearly as far along as i hoped I'd be when valentine's day came around but she loved the thought .i just finished the jewelry box and I hope yall like it as much as she does

Step 1: Tools and Materials


-safety glasses
-ear protection
-leather work gloves


-wood planner
-table saw
-compound miter saw
-micro plane
-sand paper (80 and 250 grit)
-palm sander
-drill press
-cordless drill
-small drill bit
-hand saw
-router and router table
-assorted router bits
-belt sander
-osculating orbital sander
-utility knife
-ball peen hammer
-assortment of clamps
-hatchet or roofing hammer


-firewood (oak in this case)
-old cedar siding
-minwax polyurethane clear gloss spray
-wood glue

Step 2: From Firewood to Board


now that you have all of your tools gathered .you need to select the right piece of firewood to make into boards .the piece you want needs to be square and as straight as you can find .selecting a round piece isn't wise since the circular grain is more evident .you want a square or rectangular ended piece that has a length of a foot or more depending on your design


I currently don't own a froe (a tool use to split wood into planks for use as shingles or clap boards) .so i improvised and used a knife that was of medium size .and i must say Im glad i was wearing my safety glasses because the tip to the knife broke off and flew across the porch .luckily it wasn't worse then that ,though it easily could have been .after that is when i decided to use a machete (and yes its painted gold) .leather gloves made it much easier on my hands from the jolting of the hammer blows .in the drawing below it shows splitting from the ends but i had better luck splitting the piece in half and then splitting each piece after that in half until i had pieces roughly 1/2" thick


oak is a hard wood .and the grain does not want to separate easily .so there are peaks and valleys that need to be planned down to make nice and smooth .this is where the planner comes in .slowly bring the thickness of the boards down till you have a nice smooth even surface .when starting ,each board was about half an inch thick and when finished the boards were about a fourth of an inch thick .of the 15 total boards i made

Step 3: Make the Groove ,Insert Tongue

A popular board joining technique is called the tongue and groove .you make a groove or slot down the center of the side of the board .and on another board you make a corresponding tongue .or piece of wood missing both outer sides of the edges and only having the piece that will fit into the groove

The boards I split the with the machete I joined using the tongue and groove method for joining .gluing the groove then placing the tongued board in and clamped it tight .once the glue had time to set ,it was time to unclamp .at the joint there was an out squeeze of glue that needed to be removed and it was quickly taken care of with my mirco plane .the final step was squaring up the ends of the now wider boards .that task was up to the compound radial arm miter saw

Step 4: Watch Your Fingers

I was planning on making some dove tailed joints for the corners of the jewelry box .since I couldnt get the router I had to work with the dove tail jig and I didnt feel like doing it all by had .I decided to go to the table saw and make some finger joints .finger joints are called such due to the fact the look like interlocked fingers

The first thing you need to decide is how big you want each finger .once you know that you can either used a stacked dado head, or just make multiple passes with a single blade as I did .measure out and mark each finger joint to be cut .make sure you know which ones are to be cut and which ones you need to leave .I decided to clamp the front and back board together and cut the joints on each side at the same time

for the side pieces I clamped the front and back board on top and bottom and then marked where the wood needed to be left .the side pieces would need to be cut separately .once all of your finger joints are made .take a utility knife and carefully shave down any fingers that are to large to fit .you want a nice snug fit

Step 5: Cedar

I had decided to line the jewelry box with cedar not just because it smells awesome but because it would add thickness to the box itself and therefore be more sturdy .the oak alone was only about 1/4 of an inch .with the cedar added it would be about an inch thick

I took a utility knife and went around to all the boards laying around our backyard and would shave off an edge and then smell the shaving to see if it was cedar or pine .most of the cedar fence boards I found were not good enough to line a jewelry box with .though I did find some old cedar house siding .the board was about a foot wide and about 10 feet long which was plenty to work with

I started by cutting out all the knot holes with the miter saw .then I took the shorter section (which were much easier to work with) and ran them threw the planner to remove the silvery grey weathering cedar gets from years of being out side .planning them revealed a nice blonde stripe on the edge of the board left from where the large bad edge was covered with a smaller piece to hide the gaps between the large pieces .I decided to use this blonde stripe as a feature of the jewelry box and have it centered and running on the top bottom and front and back pieces

Doing that meant I had to join several pieces of cedar together .I did so by making a rabbit joint with a 1/2 an inch straight bit and my router and router table .I set the router bit at the height to cut threw half the board and started running boards threw (carefully having labeled and decided which cedar piece would be used where) .after I had all my cedar ready .I needed to mark the oak boards and glue the cedar to them .since I didnt have enough clamps to glue all the cedar to the oak at once .I glued each cedar piece one at a time .it was important that I left my finger joints exposed and also marked where the board would end so I wouldnt have an surplus of glue to clean up .I used a scrap piece of wood wrapped in wax paper to guard the finger joints against over lap .and then glued and tightly clamped each cedar section in place .each oak section had about three cedar sections .once all the cedar had been glued I need to trim off the over hanging bits .I again used my miter saw for that

Step 6: Forming a Box

Now that all this parts of the box were made it was finally time to glue it all together .I carefully glued all the finger joints and clamped all four sided together .once they had enough time to dry I needed to cut a rabbit joint in the top and bottom pieces so they would slide down inside the box .I took the top and bottom pieces to the table saw .stood the pieces on end (one at a time) and adjusted the saw blade and guide fence to leave about an 1/8 inch of oak showing (when the box was put together) .I then layed the boards cedar side down and made a release cut which left me with my rabbit joint that fit nicely down into the top and bottom of the box .It was then time to glue the top and bottom on .carefully gluing all along the rabbit joint I had just made .I tightly clamped the top and bottom in place and allowed it to dry

Step 7: Uh Oh

When I unclamped my box I noticed the sides, front and back were not all even from one side to the other .to try and fix that I used my belt sander .once I had the front, back and side pieces even .the finger joints I painstakingly made were sanded way down and didnt look anywhere presentable at this point I felt so defeated and was contemplating just giving up .but I didnt give up since it was a present for my girlfriend who defiantly deserves a beautiful gift

After I had went into plan B mode for several days wondering how I would be able to fix this .I decided putting a veneer on the out side would look really nice .so I got online and started pricing birds eye maple .which is the only veneer I was going to buy since its my all time favorite wood .as it turns out ,birds eye maple is not cheap (even though I am) .so since birds eye was ruled out I decided to just cut some more oak and glue that onto the outside of the box

Step 8: Don’t Lose Your Lid

but you should cut it off .I decided foolishly It was time to cut the lid free from the rest of the box .I went back to the table saw and adjusted the guide fence to allow for a lid that would be about 1 and a half inches high .plenty of room to attach the hinges I had picked .carefully I slide the box threw the saw one side at a time .making sure to catch the lid as it fell free from the last cut so that it didn't fall into the saw blade and cause me yet another problem

Step 9: Tray

I couldnt build the trey having not known the finial inside dimensions .so once the lid has been cut off I could then measure and start building the try for earrings and such I started by cutting the trays bottom to the correct dimensions for that I used some of the oak I had split and planned .I knew I wanted the tray divided into 1x1 inch spaces for earrings and then some 1x3 �he dividers will be made from oak that was split and then ripped into �en notched them to allow the another piece to fit in .the other piece having been notched as well to the dividers would sit flush on top

Once I had all of the pieces cut to size it was time to attach them to the bottom of the tray .I started with the perimeter .first clamping the piece in place and carefully drilling small holes up threw the bottom into the piece .then I glued the under side of it .placed a tooth pick in each hole to align the outer rail so it wouldnt move when I clamped it (as two pieces of wood do when there is glue in between) once I had all of the outer rails on and glued I dry fit my grid pieces and then glued the bottoms of them and clamped them till the glue dried

The final touch on the tray was to just round over the edge so your fingers wouldnt scrape along the sharp edge .I used a �the corners on the tray .and the outer edges of the tray as well

Step 10: Boards From Firewood Second Method

This time I decide that the boards I cut from firewood would be done so on the table saw .I culled threw the firewood pile and found the largest pieces I could .one I did that I took a wire brush and knocked off all of the dust and dirt that had collected on them over the few years of sitting there .its important not to breath in the dust or at least it was in my case since mice and rats had been running on and most likely living in the wood pile having pooped and peed all over it .and its also import not to breath it in when youre cutting the wood

Once I had the pieces I needed cleaned up (removing the dirt to help my blade stay sharper for longer) I took them to the table saw .once there I found the flattest tide of the log and placed it facing down .making sure it didnt rock or wobble .then I adjusted my guide fence to take off slivers of wood at a time so I would be left with as much workable wood as possible .once I had the first side even .I placed that side down and the original side I had facing down toward the guide fence cut another side smooth and the placed those two smoothed sides against the guide fence and table part of the saw allowing for my third side to be cut smooth .then of coarse turned the log one more time and cut the fourth side smooth

Once I had a square log I thought it would be a good idea to let the dust in the room settle for a bit before continuing .I had put my shirt up over my nose to act as a makeshift bust mask but it didnt end up working to well .my nose got snotty and ran for days after ,so its a good idea to use an actual dust mask .once the room had become less dust filled I went back to the table saw and adjusted the guide rail so that I would cut off a board about a � .I ran the log threw and once I had my first board I placed it next to the saw blade .and adjusted the guide fence to push the log where the edge of it and the first board were even to that my second board would be the same thickness .cutting boards from a log on a table saw gave me about 4 nice boards per log .I got the same amount of boards from a log I split .so the method you use depends on tools you have .as well as the final purpose of the boards

You need to use extreme caution when cutting such a large uneven pieces of wood use a push stick to keep your fingers and hands away from the blade .the saw blade will bog down and might even kick back if you try to rush it .going slower does usually cause burning from the friction generated by the saw blade .but not to worry .any burn marks will come off with the sanding you will be doing before the sealing of the wood

Step 11: Veneer

I think technically the oak I put on the outside of the jewelry box would be called a veneer and being technically correct is the best kind of being correct .the oak boards I was left with turned out to be different shades in coloring .as well as a differing grain pattern .so I had to spend some time selecting which piece would go where to keep the symmetry and over all balance of the box when finished

The original top and bottom of the box didnt need to be covered and the top ad this beautiful tiger stripe look .only one of the logs I cut on the table saw produced the same grain pattern .I decided to use it for the front of the box .rather then fusing with a difficult to cut (difficult to cut right anyway) tongue and groove jointing I decided to cut a simple forty five degree angle which would hide the joining place of the two boards .making sure I had the sides I wanted to show facing the correct way I made the forty five degree cuts .it made such a nice seem my girlfriend couldnt even tell it was actually two separate pieces of wood

Since I used the best wood for the front of the box I choose some darker wood for the sides .which gave nice contrast and helped draw the eye back to the front of the box .I made the same forty five degree cuts for the side pieces and glued them in place .I was left with the worst looking wood for the back of the box .but as it would turn out I like the patterns in the back of the box as much as I do the top and front .the weather wood is multi colored and rather pretty in its own right .those boards were cut and fixed to the box the same way as the front and sides

It would have been much easier if I would have placed the veneer on the box before cutting free the lid .I had overhang on the veneer piece which had to be removed and I removed most of it with a hand saw and just sanded down the rest with my belt sander

Step 12: Varnishing

I had done a lot of sanding on the box already but this was to be the final time .so I though .it ended up being a series of times .the edges I was left with were rather sharp meeting at a 90 degree angle so I used my palm sander to give all of the corners a nice contour .I clamped the lid to the box to ensure the contours weren't going to differ from lid to box .once all the corners were nicely sanded I decided to just barely round over the cedar to give it a softer feel

Oak has little pin holes in it caused by tunneling bugs .some of these looked like little nicks .I didnt want there to be anything but a nice smooth finish when you ran your hand over the box .I could have filled the holes with wood filler but that would have made the holes stand out being such a lighter color .I also could have filled the holes with some professional nail hole filler that's specially tented to match wood colors but not only did I not have any on hand .I didn't want to buy any .so I instead took some 2 part epoxy that dried in 1 hour .mixed it up and put it in all of the tiny holes

I first sprayed the box with a coat of varnish just so the epoxy would not turn the wood a different color .once I had all the holes filled and the epoxy cured .it was time to sand them all smooth .this took a bit of time since the epoxy was so hard .due to the sinking of the epoxy down into the hole I had to recoat, refill, and re-sand the entire box serveral times .the sanding will leave the holes appearing white and chalky .that is only because of the sand paper scratching the epoxy and will be taken care of with the varnish .once I had all the holes filled and epoxy sanded smooth .I put on the final coats of varnish on the out side of the box only .I want the cedar to be smelled when the box is opened .I also varnished the tray

Step 13: Final Touches

The last things I need to do to finish the jewelry box are attach the hinges and latch .then make some supports that allow the tray to be pulled up and out of the way allowing access to the bottom of the jewelry box

To attach the hinges I first taped the lid to the box using blue paints masking .once the lid was tightly held in place I measured in 2 and a half inches from each edge and set the hinge lining the hinge pin along the where the box and lid met .marked the holes and then predrilled pilot holes for the little brass screws .once I had the holes predrilled .I attached the hinges .and tested them out .then I centered the latch, predrilled the holes and affixed it to the box and lid

The tray I wanted to raise with the lid .unfortunately I couldn't figure out exactly where the supports would need to go .so instead I made it like a tackle box with they tray only rising when you pull it up .to find the proper locations for the supports .I went and looked at an actually fishing box .it turned out to be way more simple then I though .the holes in the box and the holes on the tray need to be the exact distance apart .once I measure and marked them it was ready for the little supports I made using scarp bits of oak .I drilled a small hole in each end of the support .placed a tooth pick in it and then used an osculating orbital sanded to shape them I made a front set and back set .the front and back sets differing in shape slightly .I secured those in the holes I pre drilled ,and the jewelry box was finished

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