I only made one piece this year as a Christmas gift. I believe that's one more than I made last year though, so I'm making progress. This year's gift was for my dad. I usually try to get him a nice bottle of bourbon or something; an unusual or small batch product. Well this year while looking around, I saw a bottle of Laird's 7 1/2 year aged apple brandy, non blended. Laird's Apple Jack was my dad's dad's drink of choice when he was at his hunting cabin, ( He bought 251 acres of land in the mountains near Berkley Springs West Virginia in 1957, which my dad still has ), and my dad likes it every now and then also, so I'd found what I was looking for.
Now my dad's dad was a bit of a woodworker himself and I've got some cherry that was his that is probably 50 or 60 years old. I got it about 20 years ago and it had been planed down to 3/4" but obviously with some very dull planer knives. It was riddled with tear-out, so I planed it all down to 1/2" thick stuff. Well, after buying the bottle of apple brandy, I thought how cool would it be to make a box out of that cherry that came from my dad's dad to hold the bottle that my dad's dad liked to drink? Pretty cool I thought. So I decided on a sliding lid candle box type design sized to fit the afore mentioned bottle. Turned out to be a really enjoyable little project to build. I took a minimalistic approach as far as the tools I used. The corners are through dovetailed, the bottom or back just nailed on with reproduction headless brads from Kennedy Hardware ( nice stuff ), and I just used a marking gauge and a chisel and mallet to cut the grooves for the lid to slide in. I find it fun sometimes to askew specialty tools like a plow plane for a chisel and mallet. Anyway, after about 8 hours or so of work I was really pleased with the way it turned out. So much so that I'll be making myself one soon. For a finish, I applied a coat of True Oil, let it dry, and then buffed it out with fine steel wool. Because of it's age I suppose, this cherry has such a warm patina to it right away and it really begs for a simple finish. I made a bunch of cherry shavings from some of the scraps and used these to pack the bottle in the box. I find this packing much more attractive than styrofoam peanuts. :-)
Anyhow, Dad came down day before yesterday for his Christmas visit and he was very pleased indeed. Especially with the box being made from the cherry that was his dad's. Nothing can compare to the joy a woodworker gets from seeing how much a loved one appreciates a project you have made for them. Makes you want to get right back out in the shop and build more gifts.
Oh and by the way, we broke into the bottle and toasted Pappy with that apple brandy. That was some really smooth sipping stuff.
|Most, but not all, of the tools used to make the box|
|No, the dovetails aren't perfect, but neither am I|
|Really love the warm look of this cherry|
|A happy gift recipient and the humble cabinet maker|