Dad's Box

A couple of weeks ago Dad passed away in his sleep.  He was 82 years old - but still had a long list of projects that he wanted to do.  Not to get into a lot of detail he had some surgery to improve his mobility, which had been getting steadily worse.  He did not "bounce back" after the surgery and quietly passed one night out in Tucson.  In accordance with his wishes he was cremated, and I went to Tucson to help Mom close up and bring him home.

The Funeral Director recommended that we not purchase an urn from them as regulations change from Cemetery to Cemetery.  After I thought about it for a minute this was a project that I KNEW I had to do.  I just wanted to do a nice job for Dad - who had a fine eye for craftsmanship.  It was an interesting project, I fretted all the way out to Tucson about how to keep the top closed.  The Funeral Director was very helpful in discussing the mechanics of a funeral urn.  It turns out the top is fixed in place permanently - it is the bottom that is removable with some screws!

I decided to make the box from Cherry from a sawmill that is local to Dad's home in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I know Dad has some of this same wood and Cherry was his favorite after White Pine.  My brother Jay asked if the box would be large enough to include a U.S. Marine Corps Medallion.  I told him that if he could get one I would inlay it into the top of the box.  I had never done any inlays to this point and I was somewhat anxious about them.  There are some imperfections but not as many as I had feared.

Of course - I needed a new tool.  I have kluged together box joint jigs in the past and while they have always worked getting them adjusted has been a pain.  I picked up the Woodsmith Box Joint Jig specifically for this project.  It works very well.  There is still adjusting to do but the controls make it pretty easy and repeatable.  The joints came out nicely.

After a couple of weeks of work this is where I have ended up - complete with a worm hole or two.  It is not perfect, but it will serve.  As silly as it seems I have been anxious to finish and "dress" Dad in his new outfit.  I just feel better than having him in a "fiberboard" container.

My friend Chip Peterson did a wonderful job on the Laser Engraving in the top.  Thanks to you Chip - it looks way better than I thought it would.

UP Cherry from Willohby's Sawmill.  Curly Maple inlay from Bell's Forest Products (also in the UP).  USMC Medallion and 1st Marine Division pin thanks to Jay.  Finished in plenty of time before the memorial service!  Unless the Cemetery has some objection, this will be his final "home" upon internment next month.