Like all great art, this one starts with a girl. She likes birds. She likes blue. She likes earrings. And most importantly, she likes beautiful things built from scratch. I wanted to somehow weave all these elements into a small gift, and I figured a wooden box holding a set of earrings would be just the right medium.
We'll start off this tutorial by making the earrings, which is the easy part of the project, and then move on to building a blue-and-gold themed box made of oak. A nice little weekend project overall.
By the way, this Instructable is my entry to the Colors of the Rainbow contest, so do give me your vote if you like what you see!
Alright, here we go!
Step 1: Make the Earrings
Start off by getting some beads at your local Michaels store (or Amazon). The ones I used here can be found in the Glass Beads and Metal Beads sections at Michaels. I also got a little earring-making kit for $8 that came with a jewelry plier and an assortment of hooks, hoops and pins. It helps having an option of designs available to mix-n-match and suit your style.
I used a silver eye pin to hold all my beads in, using the end hoop to attach the metal feather at the bottom. After putting in all my beads, I made a loop at the top end of the eye pin and cut off any excess wire. Before closing the loop, I added in a fish hook to complete the earring.
Repeat the process once more to get your finished pair!
Step 2: Cut and Join the Oak
Get a piece of 1/4" thick oak board and cut out 6 pieces with the following dimensions:
- 4-1/2" x 3-1/2"
- 4-1/2" x 3-3/8"
- 5" x 1" (2 pieces)
- 3-1/2 x 3/4" (2 pieces)
I wanted the box to be large enough for the earrings to lay out flat comfortably. Note that the two big pieces have a width difference of 1/8" to account for the felt lining (which will be 1/16" thick on both sides).
Take one long and one short side piece, and apply some glue to create a butt joint. Keep in mind that the short pieces glue on to the side of the long ones, not the other way around. Use a corner clamp and a bar clamp to secure the joint while drying. I like to leave my butt joints around for about 4 hours before releasing the clamps.
Do the same process for the other two side pieces, and then glue the resulting two right-angle pieces into a rectangle. Use as many bar clamps as you're comfortable with. I used three. Once the rectangular frame is all dried, the bottom piece (4-1/2" x 3-1/2") should snugly fit into the frame. Glue it in place and leave overnight to dry.
Step 3: Paint It All Blue
Line the inside edges of the box with some painter's tape before your begin painting. We'll be putting felt on here later, so we need to avoid putting unnecessary layers of paint. Then spray paint all sides of the box, including the top panel that we are yet to install. I used a glossy blue shade from Rust-Oleum.
Make sure you apply the paint in thin, even layers, and sand in between coats. The sanding makes the final finish look real professional. I stuck to three coats of spraying, giving about 4 hours between coats for proper drying. Once the painting is all done, remove the painter's tape to prepare the box for the next step.
Meanwhile, take the top panel and inscribe whatever you'd like to put on it. This could be a design, a name or a symbol. I just freehanded my friend's name. I used a chisel tip gold pen to write it out.
Note that the inscription needs to go on in a 2-step process, where the first step is to draw out (in a continuous motion) whatever you want to put on the panel. This will result in light, blotchy writing as the paint pen releases ink much too slowly to keep up with your movement. The second step is to go over this stencil, and press the paint pen at every millimeter interval. This will do the actual deposition of the gold paint, resulting in a rich gold leaf effect.
Step 4: Line It With Felt
Get a sheet of blue felt and cut out the shape that will go inside the box. I made a little error here and did not leave out little square notches on the long sides to fit in the edges of the box. I've tried marking it in the pictures to show what I mean. I rectified the error by cutting the little pieces separately and gluing them on, but you can do it all in one piece if you are careful about the notches from the start.
Next, use felt glue, clamps and weights to secure the felt to the oak. Leave overnight to dry. I decided to cover the top sides of the box with felt too, so you can skip painting them as well in the previous step. However, I did not find the paint already there to be any impediment to the gluing.
Given the tolerances, I discovered that the top panel juts out about 1/16" above the top felt layer, so I added an additional layer of felt to the top of the long pieces (only!).
Once everything is dried, use shears and an X-acto knife to cut off any excess felt jutting from the edges. Some sanding may be needed to flush the felt with the oak. If any paint comes off, go ahead and put a final coat of that glossy blue paint to cover up the patches.
Step 5: Install the Hinges
I used 2 golden dollhouse hinges to attach the top panel to the box. Start off by placing the hinges about 1-1/2" in from the outer edge of the box. Use a thumb tack to lightly mark the holes in the wood. Then use a rotary tool with a 1mm bit to drill holes in all 8 marked spots, each less than 1/4" deep.
Use the nails/screws that come with the hinges to secure them first to the box's side. A bit of gentle hammering does the job. Then fit the top panel in its correct position on the box, and nail in the other side of the hinges. If all the dimensions for the wood and felt are followed, the top panel should snugly sit in the box when closed and would not need any securing locks.
Step 6: Add the Chain
Once again, use a thumb tack to mark a hole 2" in from the outer back edge on the left side of the box. Do the same for the inside of the top panel; mark a hole about 1/4" from the side edge and 1-1/2" from the front edge. No drilling is required in this step. Just screw a small golden eye hook into the holes.
Cut a 6" length of a gold chain and put it through the eye hook. I realized it was easier to attach the chain to the eye hooks before screwing them into the box, so I took the hooks out and did the installation after. I was quite happy with the result. A jewelry box ought to look as pretty opened as it is closed!
Step 7: Make the Posts
Now we are on to the final touches. Take a 3/16" wooden dowel and cut two 1/4" long pieces. Roll them around in glue and wrap them in some felt. These should take about 15-20 minutes to dry. Cut off the excess felt from the ends using a pair of shears, and glue on a piece of felt to one of the faces (for both pieces). Again, trim off the excess and glue the posts down in the box.
The exact points to place the posts would be 1-1/4" in from the side and 7/8" in from the back of the box's inside. I used weights to put some pressure on the posts as they dried on to the felt. These posts hold the earrings in place, and just bring the whole design together quite well.
And that's it! We are done with this box.
Step 8: Wrap It Up Nice!
Last step, packaging it right. I folded some dark blue tissue paper into a thick rectangular shape that fit snugly within the dimensions of the box. The eye hook in the box helps hold the tissue down while exposing just the very top of the earring hooks.
Finally, I got a sheet of patterned blue paper to wrap the box in. All set. And there you have it, your explosion of blue is ready!