My wife and I celebrated our 5th anniversary this year, which is the "wood" year. I made her a ring out of some walnut (I'll post a pic at the end), but wanted a unique gift box. I had recently cut some limbs out of a tree in my yard (I think it's a crabapple??) that were about the perfect size that I needed.
Step 1: Hollow
This is basically a hollowed out log with a lid that swivels. Here's the steps I used:
- cut your log to the desired length. This log is about 3.5" in diameter and I cut it about 3" long.
- drill a hole in the end of the log near the edge. This will be the pivot point for the lid. Be sure to drill the hole deeper than the lid will be thick. Keep the drill as perpendicular to the end of the log as possible. Drilling the hole first will allow you to realign the pieces after you cut the lid off.
- cut a slice of the log off of the same end that you drilled the hole. This will be your lid. Set this aside for now. I cut mine 1/4" - 3/8" thick.
- mark the end of the log where it needs to be hollowed out. Be sure to leave sufficient thickness around the perimeter as well as around the pivot hole.
- you can hollow the log in various ways. Wood carving knives could be used but would be very time consuming. A milling machine would make quick work of it, but those are expensive and I don't have one. I used the poor man's milling machine, a.k.a a drill press and drilled a bunch of holes to remove the majority of the wood. I used a depth stop to make sure I didn't drill too deep. Once the bulk of the wood was removed, I used a 5/8" straight router bit in the drill press to flatten out the bottom of the box and round out the walls. Finally, I used a variety of sanding drums to smooth things out.
- I used a 3/8" wooden dowel for the pivot. Cut it slightly longer than needed to fit a decent distance into the hole drilled earlier and through the lid. Smooth the cut ends of the dowel to help them slide through/into the holes in the box and lid. Use some wood glue on the end that will go into the box and press it into the hole in the box.
- I engraved our anniversary date in the bottom side of the lid. If you plan to do anything like this, now is the time to do it.
- Slide the lid onto the dowel. The lid may be hard to pivot at first, but you can work it back and forth a littl bit and it'll move easier. You don't want it to be too loose or the lid may come off too easily.
- you likely have a littl bit of dowel sticking out the top of the lid. Cut it flush with the lid and sand it smooth.
At this point, you could be finished. I used tung oil on mine. If you plan to finish it, be sure to take the necessary steps to keep the lid from getting stuck to the box as your finish dries.
Step 2: The Prize Inside
Here's a pic of the ring I made. It's made from walnut and was done on my vertical wood lathe a.k.a. drill press. The whole process was completely experimental and somewhat dangerous, so I didn't take pictures along the way. The final product was actually my fourth attempt, with the three prior attempts ending in pieces on the garage floor.
Thanks for looking and please vote.