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2008 Christmas Woodworking Project – Double-End Grain Boxes

January 4, 2009
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Jewelry Box, Dimension: 7x7x3.25"

Fuku Masu, Dimension: 5x5.75x4"

Build date: 2008/12/25
Materials: Cherry, old growth red cedar, Brusso hinges

Around 1998, I came across George Nakashima’s excellent book, The Soul of a Tree: A Master Woodworkers Reflections, and became intrigued by the drawing on page 124 of a box with double-end grains at each of the four corners. I was inspired and made it a goal to one day build such a box. At the time I didn’t have any woodworking skill and it looked really complicated. So I put it off until now, ten years later.

The first box I made was the jewelry box. Besides using machine tools for dimensioning the boards, I resorted to using only hand tools. The challenge was to lay out accurately and then to cut the mitered half lap joints for a tight fit. Nakashima described it as “Difficult box joinery… since forcing can snap the end grain off.” That certainly was true as I broke off three of the four corners on this first attempt. Fortunately, after I glued them back, the glue lines virtually disappeared. I completed the box on Christmas Eve and gave it to my wife for Christmas.

For the second box, the fuku masu (“happiness box”), I wanted to see whether I can build it using mostly power tools – in other word, whether I can mass produce it. The process was actually quite straightforward once I had the various jigs set up for my table saw. I completed the joinery for the box and had it assembled in about an hour.

For more about fuku masu, see here.

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