Well its time for another winter building project. Just after New Years Day I had a notion that I would build a little carpenter’s tool box for each one of our 5 little dudes. Not that they would all become carpenters, but the sturdy wooden boxes would be great for storing all kinds of cool little dude stuff, from craft supplies to a rock collection. With a brief search of the inter webs I found a simple set of instructions and cutting dimensions for a beautiful 8 X 16 inch classic, century old design. I was delighted to discover that the very close tolerances in the layout allowed for two boxes to be cut from one 8 foot piece of stock. Let’s do some math – five dudes + 2 boxes from each board + 3 boards needed = 1 extra box! Immediately I thought of our darling little grand-niece, Jane. Happy Valentine’s Day Jane!
I chose three gorgeous planks of poplar and got busy with pencil, compass, saws, rasps, sanders, drills, and glue. I won’t bore you all with a cut by cut description. I might have gone a little overboard with the fit and finish, for a box that is likely going to be filled with garden dirt. I countersunk all the fasteners and filled the holes with tapered wooden plugs. The sanding marathon went from 80 grit to 120, then to 220, and then – WHOA!
I reminded myself that it was after all, a tool box, not a jewelry box. But I must say I enjoyed the smooth feel of the rounded ends as I rubbed my hand along the edge.
The Valentine’s Day gift box idea was all Susan’s. When I said I was going to try to decorate each box with some unique design or logo that was specific to each of the dudes, grandma Suzie decided that she would fill the boxes with Sweetheart candy and some other cool little trinkets.
I copied numerous designs onto tracing paper, along with their names in block letters. I bought some graphite transfer paper and an inexpensive Weller wood burning tool.
I didn’t have to wait too long for the perfect day to stay inside the garage and learn to be a “Pyrography Artist”. That’s not a naughty thing, it’s the burning of decorations into wood.
I made a few practice burns on some scrap wood, and handed those pieces over to Susan for stain and polyurethane sampling. I got on about 5 layers of fleece, wool, and down, set up a nice clean work station, and started burning. I must say at this point that it was either way easier than I thought it was going to be, or I have some untapped pyrography gene that has been hidden deep in my DNA from another lifetime. The designs and names burned in nicely. In fact the project went so well that even after I thought I was finished with the wood burning, I went back into the house and found a pattern for a hand grenade, and added that to Duke’s box. If you know 3-1/2 year old Duke Danger then this addition makes perfect sense.
A Jeep theme for Jane, puma tracks and mountain climbing gear for Booker. For Remy – the Remington Arms logo, of course. For Kingston, a dual-sport motorbike headed over the mountains. A surf board, on a palm tree beach adorned Cadence’s box… and there may have been a surprise appearance by a Pokémon (ポケモン guy on the back. At this moment in time Cade is a little Pokémon (ポケモン crazy. As for Duke’s box, a proper toolbox logo of a hammer and saw, and that vintage WWII pineapple grenade on the back.
So the next phase of the project was bringing them inside and applying several coats of polyurethane.
In light of the fact that the boxes were all constructed the same, we wanted to make sure to decorate and finish them a little differently. The idea was to give them all a nice clear polyurethane coating on the inside (to protect the wood from all the stuff that would be tossed in there) but to apply slightly different wood stains to the outside. Some lighter, some clear, and some a little bit darker.
About a half mile of Frog tape later – the insides had a couple of coats of clear finish, and the bottoms were sealed with the same clear polyurethane.
A few coats of poly, and then we filled ’em up with some cool stuff. Some small tools, decorative duck tape, ropes, books, tiny trucks, science projects, and craft supplies, were among the items included.
We got Jane’s box packed up in a shipping carton and ready to go, but before we could send it, Jane got a brand new baby brother. Clark (known as Tarzan to his friends) was born on Jan 28, 2014. Susan and I rounded up a few little newborn baby toys and wrapped them up for the newest little Katzer dude. So just in case he reads this years from now, he won’t feel left out. Judging by Tarzan’s size in the photo – I think he might just fit inside Jane’s toolbox… Just an observation (Jane) don’t get any ideas.
Of course Jane’s box arrived before the big Valentine’s Day reveal so we had to make sure her mom and dad didn’t give away the surprise by posting any pictures on FB.
Max snapped this picture of Jane and confirmed that our choice of a Jeep logo for Jane’s toolbox was spot on. Jane broke out her pink para cord first thing and immediately started tying things up. (Sorry Clark, I hope your rope burns heal up quickly)
The problem with having the five other toolboxes hidden at our house for over a month is that every couple of days Grandma Suzie would discover some new, very cool, whiz-bang little item that needed to be added to the boxes. Pretty quick they were packed full of all kinds of nifty little dude treasures.
So finally February 14th arrived. Man this was tougher than Christmas, the excitement was killing me. Suzie and I shot down to Leane’s house first thing on the morning and stormed in with the first 3 toolboxes. Her house erupted in excitement as the dudes tore into everything.
Then later that afternoon, when we got word that Remy was up from his nap, we loaded up the final two toolboxes and popped over to see Booker and Remington. Again, delighted little dudes was the order of the day.
Well, the excitement of little boys playing with new toys (and big boys too, I guess) will always be a marvelous thing for my eyes to see. But I think that the most wonderful part of the the whole process, made especially meaningful as Susan and I are approaching our 37th wedding anniversary, was to see each one of the little dudes hugging and squeezing their grandma Suzie for being such an awesome grandmother and loading them up with treasure.
Happy Valentine’s Day Dudes, and Happy Valentine’s Day Suzie – I love you.