Bow-tiful Keepsake Box

Comments (0)

This article is from Issue 65 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Make this hollow heart an expression of love.

Overall dimensions: 37⁄8"w × 21⁄2"h × 31⁄8"l

It’s one thing to give a small gift in a cardboard box that’s wrapped in fancy paper. It’s something else when the presentation box is equal to or better than the item inside. With this endearing bandsawn box design, you can make the most of your choice scrap, and top the heart with a scrollsawn bow and ribbon tails cut from laminations of contrasting woods. Use the full-sized patterns to save time.

Begin at the blade start hole, and scrollsaw the outside walls of the lid support, following the pattern line.
Using a pushstick, fence, and a 1⁄2" resaw blade, bandsaw the hollow box into two equal halves.

Bandsaw and assemble the box

1 Cut a 31⁄2 × 4" blank from 2"-thick stock. (I used cherry.) If you don’t have a solid block at that thickness, laminate two or more pieces together. 

2 At the bandsaw, resaw a 3⁄8" slab from one face of the blank using a 1⁄2" × 4 TPI blade. Now, resaw a second 3⁄8" slab off the opposite face.

3 Make an enlarged copy of the exterior heart pattern in Figure 2, affix it to a piece of stiff cardboard or poster board, and cut it out. (If you intend to only make one box, you can just affix it directly to the workpiece.) Since I’m making several boxes, I’ll use the cardboard shape for a tracing template.

4 Double-face tape the three pieces back together. Place the heart template on the stack and trace the shape on the top.

5 Using a 1⁄4" × 6 TPI blade, bandsaw the blank in the shape of the heart, cutting on the line. (The narrower blade lets me navigate the sharp curves better.) 

6 Make a copy of the interior heart pattern in Figure 2, apply it to cardboard, and cut the template to shape using a crafts knife.

7 Center the interior heart template between the sides of the core blank to establish walls of equal thickness and trace around it. Drill a 1⁄8" blade-start hole within the interior heart shape. Next, using a #5 reverse-tooth scrollsaw blade, slip the blade through the start hole and scrollsaw the outside walls of the lid support as shown in Photo A and Figure 2. Loosen the blade and remove the box core. Then, scrollsaw along the inside walls of the lid support to separate it from the core.

8 Sand the inside surface of the lid support to remove saw marks. (I used a spindle sander.) Note: If you intend to line the box with felt, use the box core interior walls to lay out and cut a cardboard backer to size at this time. Later, you can use the backer to size the felt for a perfect fit. For more, see page 64.

9 Glue the top and bottom to the box core, flushing the edges all around. (I used medium 2500M Nexabond adhesive to take advantage of the glue’s short set time.)

10 Set up your bandsaw fence 1" from the blade. Now, saw the box in half, separating the lid from the box base as shown in Photo B.

11 Apply glue to the inside walls of the lid. Now, fully insert the lid support. Let dry. Note that when the box halves will be together, the lid support registers the lid to the box base.

12 At the bandsaw, place the lid against the fence and resaw the attached lid support so that only 3⁄16" of it protrudes below the edge of the lid. Sand the edges smooth and even by rubbing the lid support portion on a flat piece of sandpaper.

Hold the box base and lid together as you sand the general contours along the sides, rotating the box to avoid burning and creating facets.
Blend in the contours by constantly rotating the box against the drum sander, working with the grain when possible.

Sand the box and lid 

1 Fit the lid onto the box, and, using a drum sander at the drill press or an oscillating spinder sander, true up the sides or edges of the box base and lid to remove saw marks and flush the surfaces of the mating parts. 

2 Using Figure 3, scribe on the contour lines for a sanding reference. (Expect to redraw the lines a few times as you work through the sanding/contouring process.)

3 At a stationary belt sander, sand off the bulk of the waste, as shown in Photo C. Redraw and reestablish the contour lines as needed. Aim for smooth rounded surfaces and equal waste removal on each side of the box for ideal symmetry.

4 Install an inflatable drum sander in your drill press with an 80-grit sleeve. Now, ease the curves and contours of the box further, as shown in Photo D. 

Switch to 120-grit through 220-grit sleeves to complete sanding the box. Hand-sand the difficult-to-reach crevice area, blending its surfaces with the rest of the box.

Make and add the bows

1 Plane and cut one piece of stock to 1⁄4 × 11⁄2 × 18"; plane and cut two pieces of contrasting stock to 1⁄8 × 11⁄2 × 18". (To safely plane 1⁄8"-thick stock, adhere thicker stock with double-faced tape to a flat carrier board such as 3⁄4" MDF and run it through the planer.) Face-laminate the pieces together, placing the 1⁄4"-thick piece in the middle. Flush the edges, clamp, and let dry.

2 Make a copy of Bow and Ribbon Tail patterns in Figure 4. Adhere them to thin cardboard as before, and cut the templates out with a craft knife.

Place the template on the face of the lamination and scribe six bows.
After drilling the 1⁄8" blade start holes in the blank, insert the blade and scrollsaw out the waste area in each bow.

3 Using the bow template, lay out the six bows on the laminated blank, as shown in Photo E.

4 Following the cutting sequence in Figure 4, drill blade start holes in the bow openings. Now, thread a #5 reverse-tooth scrollsaw blade through a hole, and cut out the waste in a bow, as shown in Photo F, using a medium speed. (I make my cuts in the sequence shown in Figure 4 in order to have more wood to safely hold on to.) Repeat for the remaining bows. Cut the bows from the blank.

Carefully cut on the lines to create two curved ribbon tails of equal thickness, stopping where cut line ends.
With the tails still in the blank, cut the V notch in the lower ends.

5 Use the ribbon template to scribe two ribbon tails side by side on the face of the laminated blank. Scrollsaw the tails as shown in Photo G. Following the sequence in Figure 4, make cut 1, stop the machine at the end of the cut, and back the blade out. Repeat for cuts 2 and 3, referring to Figure 4. Keep the pieces in the blank for Step 6 and Step 7.

6 Fold the ribbon tail pattern on the dotted line and place it on the blank, aligning it with the V end of the tails. Mark the V at the end of the tails on the edge of the blank.

7 Now, with the blank on its edge, cut the V in the ribbon tails, as shown in Photo H, following the sequence for cuts 4 and 5 in Figure 4.

8 Cut the 1⁄4 × 1⁄2 × 1⁄2" knot from the remaining blank material.

9 Lay out the lines for the tapered bow ends, referring the Top View in Figure 4. 

At the belt/disc sander, sand to the lines to create straight joining edges of the bow parts. Test-fit the parts as needed.

10 Using 150-grit sandpaper, sand the bows, ribbon tails, and knot. (I sometimes clean out the bow holes with a craft knife to remove the fuzzies.)

With the center of the lid established, mark the locations of the bow cluster and tail.

Assemble the bows and ribbons

1 Glue one center ribbon and two outside ribbons edge to edge. Do the same for the opposing ribbon group. Let dry.

2 Starting at the center of the box lid, eyeing between the heart’s point and V, place a glued-up bow cluster to one side. Fit a ribbon tail beneath it, allowing its curve to flow over the rounded-over edge. Mark its location. Do the same for the other cluster and ribbon tail, as shown in Photo I.

3 Slightly taper-sand the inside ends of the ribbon tails. Dry-fit both bow clusters and tails onto the box top in alignment with the marks. Once satisfied with the fit, glue the clusters and tails to the lid. Let dry. Erase any pencil marks and finish-sand.

4 Apply a finish. (I sprayed on three coats of Watco’s clear gloss lacquer.)

Box Lining Option

Consider dressing up the box bottom with felt. To do this, cut out a cardboard backer as described in the note following Step 8 under Bandsaw and Assemble the Box. Test-fit the cardboard in the box and, once satisfied, apply an oversized piece of adhesive-backed felt to the backer. Trim it to final size. Finally, insert the backer and felt into the box, pressing it against the bottom.

Making an Acrylic Box

If you’re feeling ambitious, consider making a bow-topped keepsake box or just the bows out of acrylic. To do this, I cut my blanks close to final size. I then wrapped the solid acrylic bow and ribbon blank with packing tape top and bottom to clean the blade and prevent the plastic from melting. Then I applied the templates as with a wood box. Cut out the parts using the same blade and speed as the wood box.

To sand the acrylic bow and tail parts, use Micro-Mesh sanding pads, and wet-sand the surfaces through 12,000 grit. Glue the parts together using CA glue. Finish with clear lacquer (it helps cover up any minor scratches that fail to buff out.)

About Our Author

Native of Parkersburg, West Virginia, Kyle Camp has been woodworking for some 16 years. His favorite projects include fretwork, scrollsawn projects of all kinds, woodturning, and furniture pieces. He is the assistant manager of the Parkersburg Woodcraft store where he teaches classes from beginning scrollsawing to basic woodworking.


Write Comment

Write Comment

You must be logged in to write a comment. Log In

Top of Page