Keepsake Box


For years now I have always wanted my own little box to stash those little bits and pieces that one collects in their lifetime. I know I have a hoarding gene in me and get very sentimental about lots of things. I started to design out a box for myself that I felt would fit my needs as I found that a lot of boxes out there simply didn’t cater for my needs. I was after a box that had more room at the bottom than the top as I don’t have a vast amount of jewels and what I consider valuable simply wouldn’t fit into a small jewellery box, mostly letters from my beloved Nan, who has been a massive inspiration in my work as an artist.

This was a combined effort between both myself and my other half DTR. He decided it would make an ideal 6 year anniversary present. DTR built the box, lid, tray and bits of the metal work while I painted the glass work. I cracked on with a design on sketchup and came up with a very rough idea. It looks not much like the finished article but the proportions are still there. A box, with a glass lid, shallow tray for my limited jewellery and a deep bottom.


I was 100% clear on the box having to be made from Walnut and also had the piece of glass set aside from an old clip frame that I had never used. A length of Walnut was bought and then acclimatised to the house to avoid the twisting and shrinkage.

Next the pieces for the box itself were cut to length and then planed smooth and then the dovetails cut out by hand.

Pieces cut to length




A groove was then cut along the bottom of the sides of the box. This would allow the bottom to slot into place. Again this was done by hand using a Marples Plough Plane.


Slips were then created with a groove ploughed into them to attach to the front and the back of the box. These were glued and pinned in place on both the front and back of the box.



You can see from the photo above as well that the housing for the lock has also been created. This again was done by hand.


Two further strips of walnuts were glued and pinned into place to hold the tray before the whole box was then assembled.


IMG_0197A brass escutcheon was then made up from scratch as I didn’t seem to like any of the fancy ones available. I wanted something simple and the ones that were didn’t seem to match the lock’s keyhole and so it made more sense to make one.




Now Dave’s attention turned to making the lid to house my glass artwork in. At this point I was still hurriedly designing out the piece I would paint but knew I wasn’t holding things up either.

The lid was made using mortise and tenon joints and also rebating the inside edges of the lid for the glass would be able to sit in place. This was very time consuming but the end result was well worth it.



The lid was then glued together and then oiled using 3 coats of Danish Oil. Feet were also added before hand but unfortunately there are no pictures of this stage.


I had by now finally figured out a design I wanted to use on the box and had finished painting it. The design is both a mixture of William Morris and Tudor influences, with the Tudor Rose acting as the centre piece. The gold colour scheme was chosen so the glass work would stand out more than using a simple black outliner and would also compliment the brass ironmongery.


The glass was pinned into place using walnut beading that had been oiled prior to installing and hinges and the escutcheon were then installed.



Now attention turned to the insert tray of the box. The tray itself was created the same way as the box was, with dovetailed joints and then grooves at the bottom to hold the bottom in place.


Dividers were then created to fit inside the tray. A handle was also required so I could pull out the tray when I needed to access the lower compartment of the box. This is the curved piece in the bottom right corner in the photo below.



The tray was then assembled and then oiled before installing.






It’s been nearly 2 years since the box was created and it’s still going strong. However a further box may need to created to house all my keepsakes letters from my Nan as it has now become very full. Great interest has also been expressed in the box itself , as well as the glass work and there has been some interest in exhibiting it in a local gallery (not selling it). Although I’m not sure about this as it’s such a personal item, however the craftsmanship of Dave’s work I feel should be shown to the world.



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