This all started with a library book. Last week my grandson Booker showed me a very cool book he’d checked out of his library featuring page after page of great ideas on how to study, preserve, and catalog various treasures found in the natural world.
Now I’m sure that every grandpa will say that his grandsons are extremely smart… Just like all of my Dudes. But I gotta say how pleased I am that 7 year-old Booker is so deeply interested in the natural world around him. I’m sure he has watched and memorized every episode of the Wild Kratts show, and he has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of birds and animals living around him. As an example, here is a little throw back to October 2014 with a video we made of Stellar’s Jays. This was all Booker’s idea.
And I’m pleased to see that his enthusiasm for learning about the natural world continues to grow. So when it was suggested that Booker might need a cabinet to start his collection, I got started immediately.
I began by making a rough sketch of the cabinet and then had the plan “approved” by Booker.
Next was the question of what material to use. That was easily answered out of necessity: I’d just use whatever I had laying around.
There is something very satisfying about reusing, reclaiming, or refurbishing old grungy building materials and giving them a new purpose in life. I still had a few remnants of the old cedar fence that had been storm damaged a couple of years ago. I knew that hiding deep inside those slimy green boards was some beautiful cedar stock.
It was just a matter of drying off the old fence boards and then planing down the stock to uncover the beauty within.
Remarkably I managed to actually stick to the drawings and follow the plans that I’d made. As often as not, somewhere along the way, I find that I have to change something to accommodate the wood I have to work with.
In the process I created a small table saw sled to help cutting the dados that would hold the whole thing together.
So eventually I’d cleaned up enough old cedar boards to piece together the cabinet. Everything was glued up and then we applied some walnut wood stain (to match the beds we’d built last summer).
The next idea on my checklist of cool ideas was to fabricate some drawer pull out of an old mule deer antler. I’d found the antler hanging in a wood shed at my mother’s house and knew it had to be 30 to 35 years old. My mom was delighted with the idea that it might end up as a part of her great-grandson’s curiosity cabinet. The only problem was that I didn’t really know anything about carving or fabricating stuff from deer antlers. So, after spending a little time at the University of YouTube – I came away with a BS in antler carving. Yep, BS means just what you think it does. I made about 3 different types of drawer pulls and settled on a really simple, smooth design. I’ll put the unused pieces in the cabinet’s drawer for Booker to examine later.
Now a word of caution about sawing and sanding deer antler: If you remember ever going to the dentist and having the doctor drill into your tooth… imagine that smell only 10 times more pungent filling the air in your workshop. NASTY! I can still smell it as I type these words a day later.
Well here it is finished. We stocked it with a few little treasures to get Booker started, like the tail feathers from a northern Saw-Whet owl, some cool shells, and a couple of rocks.
All that remained was to attached the cabinet to Booker’s bedroom wall.
That task ended up being an “all hands on deck” evolution with two very curious little boys trying to inspect everything at once. But as soon as it was stuck up on the wall Booker got busy filling in some of the shelves with his treasures.
…and finally a photo of the finished cabinet.
Thanks for following along. Kat