Math Words Images Projects
Box #1
A Cherrywood Treasure Chest

When I bought the house in Gainesville in 2004, a wild-cherry tree was growing close to one corner. It was so close that when the wind would blow, especially in hurricane season, the trunk would rub against the fly-rafter and the edge of the roof. The action had already abraded a shallow cavity in the roof, so the tree had to come down. Most of the trunk was knotty -- the tree had limbs almost from ground level -- but I managed to cut a few sections of clear timber. I set these aside to season, under shelter and raised enough to allow air-flow all around.

Five and a half years later, I conceived of a project for this wood. I squared-off one of the lengths, cut it into rough boards on the bandsaw, and planed them smooth. After drawing the plans for a miniature treasure chest, I cut rectangular pieces for the bottom, all four sides of the base, and the front and back of the lid; plus two pieces with three sides straight and one curved, for the sides of the lid.

Then I cut nine narrow strips, each as long as the box would be wide, with tapered cross-sections. These would be glued across the curved edge of the lid's sides, their taper allowing them to follow the curve. The final two pieces were a pair of crescents of much thinner wood, to cover the ends of the curved top. Once the tapered strips and the end-trim pieces were glued in place, I sanded them to a smooth curve.

Because I hadn't yet become fully trusting of glued joints, I supplemented them with brass nails, and used brass hinges and hasp as well. The screws holding the hinges were infinitesimally (but palpably) longer than the thickness of the wood, so I added leather pads to cover their pointy ends. The final touch was a set of felt pads on the bottom, so it would rest gently on any surface.

A friend of mine (in another part of the country) had been a wood-worker nearly all his adult life, including a decade as a cabinet-maker. He knew the story of the wild-cherry tree coming down, and knew that I'd set a couple sections aside for some as-yet-undetermined project. He was having some financial difficulties at the time I made this box, so after I had assembled and varnished it, I went to the bank and withdrew $100 in the gold-colored, Presidential-dollar coins, to fill the treasure chest, and sent it to him.

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