Double-Take Keepsake Box

It’s been a while since I’ve done much woodturning/woodworking, but one of my original goals for this blog was to collect various projects that I’ve documented elsewhere. I wrote about this first one on the Family Woodworking forum back in April 2011.

The project below came straight out of an article in the September 2003 issue of WOOD magazine (pages 70-73) called Double-Take Keepsake Box.

The idea is to create what appears, at first glance, to be a one-piece hollow vessel…

Southern Vessel Box – Assembled

… but which is actually a two-piece lidded box!

Southwestern Vessel Box – Inside with Lid

The illusion is created by 3 details:

  • the overall form of a Southwest-style vessel,
  • a darkened recess at the top of the lid, and
  • a set of small grooves that help to hide the line where the lid meets the base.

I used a sycamore limb from a former coworker, India ink to darken the lid (the article suggested flat black acrylic paint, which might have worked better) and a mini skew for the grooves.

WOOD did a good job on the article. They included step-by-step instructions along with photos, diagrams … and cool templates that you can copy, cut out, and hold up to various parts of the box at different points in the process.

I kept the Sep ’03 issue “handy” for several months after receiving it, and even copied the templates at 66%, 75%, 100% and 141% so I could make a graduated set … but so far I have only made (and given away) two of these boxes. I used the 100% template as a guide for the box shown above, but I wanted to use more of the blank I had, so I “fudged” a slightly larger form. I could have undercut the base more for an even better Southwest flavor … but for now I feel pretty good about this first one.

Oops … did I say “first one”? I guess “first successful one” would be more accurate. Behold the Russian Olive prototype that didn’t survive…

Photo 1: Not looking too bad, right? You can see where the experiment to darken the grooves with India ink has gotten a little out of control, but I’m working on it.

Russian Olive Prototype

By the way, in an earlier step a 3/4″ diameter, 1 7/16″ long dowel was inserted into the 1/2″ deep hole in the lid and a corresponding 1″ deep hole in the base … to provide a way to turn the underside of the lid.


Photo 2: Yeh … well. This is what happens when you use the right tool (spindle gouge) in the wrong orientation. Can you say Catch-o-rama?

Russian Olive Prototype – Hole in Lid


Photo 3: The inside had come along pretty well, although the Russian Olive was almost too much for my (Ahem) less-than-razor-sharp tools…

Russian Olive Prototype – Inside


Photo 4: And here we see that the prototype was doomed to fail anyway. I hadn’t left enough “meat” around the rim. My attempts to sand away the extra India ink, along with some “concentrically challenged” remounts were about to wreak havoc on the project regardless.

Russian Olive Prototype – Broken Lid Detail

But hey! Like the man says, this is how we learn, no?

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