Machining a Steel Jewelry Box

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Introduction: Machining a Steel Jewelry Box

About: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.
Ahh, the unconventional things we do for love. I made this jewelry box for my wife for Valentines Day. Now all I have to do is make something to put in it.

To make it I used an electrical conduit connector, plexiglass, 22 gauge sheet metal, auto body filler, paint, and leather. After about 200,000 revolutions this is what turned out.

This video shows me turning body filler on the inside of the jewelry box.

Step 1: Cut the Bottom Out

The conduit connector has flat edges and corners because it’s designed to be gripped by a wrench or pliers. All that will be machined off. Also machined off is half the threads we won't be using.

Once it’s off, I’ll continue to shape the body with 40 grit sand paper.

Safety first: Wear a dust mask. Watch out for the metal shavings that come off. They’re very hot. Be careful and work within your experience.

Step 2: Remove Some Threads

I cut off six threads. That way the lid has to only turn 3 revolutions to open and close.

Step 3: Shape and Polish

I continued to shape the box until it no longer had any flat edges or corners. I moved on to progressively finer sand paper. I first used 40 then 180, 400, 800, and then 2000. I kept the sand paper wet to keep it from clogging up.

As the piece polishes it gives the appearance that it stops moving. Once all the imperfections are polished away the sense of motion is lost and all you see is a shiny ring even though it’s still spinning at 2,500 rpm. It’s pretty cool.

Step 4: Solder in the Bottom

I used sheet metal for a floor in the jewelry box. First I traced the foot print onto the metal. Next I cut it out and glued it onto a mounting piece I made from a bolt soldered to a quarter.

I machined the circle down until it just barely fit into the bottom. Next I soldered it in.

Step 5: Cut the Glass Support

Before this project is complete it will have a piece of plexiglass fitted into the lid. Though before we can do that we have to have a support ring to solder in the top of the lid.

I cut this ring out just like I did the bottom circle but this time I soldered a mount to it instead of using hot glue. Once I had the ring I mounted it in the lathe and cleaned it up with files.

Next I soldered it in to the top of the lid.

Step 6: Cut the Lid Glass

Using my bolt and quarter mount I glued a very rough shape of plexiglass onto it and placed it in my lathe. I used a marker to center a circle. Then I removed the excess. I continued to machine out the circle until I got close the final shape.

Next I angled my lathe so it would cut at 25 degress to the edge of the glass. You have to make sure the glass is exactly the right fit otherwise it won’t “snap in” to the lid. I used a razor blade to trim away tiny amounts of the circumference so that I could sneak up on the final dimension.

With the glass the right size, and the bevel to help guide it in, it will “snap” right in place.

Step 7: Fill Out the Box

In order to have a smooth inside I decided to fill it with auto body filler. First I mixed the filler and then spooned it into the box and lid. I rough shaped it with the spoon and once it was cured I machined it out on my lathe.

I did this twice to cover any low spots from the first time around. Afterwards I used sand paper to smooth it for paint.

Step 8: Paint

I masked off the proper surfaces and covered the inside with vivid red paint. I finished with a clear coat.

Step 9: Pad the Bottom

I traced out the foot print of the box and cut the piece of leather to match. To get a uniform coating of hot glue on the bottom of the box I started by placing hot glue around the bottom half of the circumference. I fired up my clothes iron and draped a paper towel on it. I placed the bottom of the box on the hot surface and dragged it along the paper towel. This spread out a thin even coat of hot glue on that surface.

After that I placed the leather on and ironed it to secure it well. I trimed the edges with a razor balde. Finally I  mounted it back in my lathe and rounded over the edges of the leather with sand paper.

Step 10: To My Valentine

I cleaned off any stray paint and polishing compounded. I printed out a little note to my Valentine and placed it in the lid of the box.

When I gave it to her she put all the jewelry I've made her in it.

Thanks for reading.

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    28 Discussions

    Very nice, but I'm curious how you remove the glued on quarter?

    I have always wanted a lathe, and now that I have used some in high school. And I can see what they can make I really want one. Really really. How much was yours?

    1 reply

    This is beautiful, amazing, pretty, gorgeous, lovely, awesome and nice.
    Or, in other words, prettiest jewelry box I've ever seen!

    2 replies

    All I can say is "WOW"!!!
    U do nice work. I like this one very much. I like ur others also as long as no coins before 1965 was not harmed in anyway or fashion. I'm a coin collector & it just hurts my soul when people destroy Buffalo Nickels & any coin before 1965.
    Thank u for this one. U made a piece of junk fittings & made them alive. Nice!!

    I found your vids over on Youtube and jumped over here. I would like to thank you for your efforts to share these projects with everyone. I am sure I will using some of your ideas in my own shop.

    1 reply

    That's really nice. Your wife will love it and probably has plenty you have already made her to put in it. Ha you might need to be looking to make a bigger one even! You got a winner any which way you look at it and think you wife has got a definite winner too!

    2 replies

    I can't say it any better than " Well done. " hope she likes the work.

    Skill and affection in one handsome piece of work. How good to see aMini-Lathe task which isn't a model loco or a useful bit of machinery!

    I was admring the build before I realised what you made it out of, and my mind was blown! That is definitely the most amazing pipe coupler I have ever seen.

    I'm sure you'll made your special someone very happy happy with this.