Location: Houston, TX
Hobbyist or Pro: Hobbyist
Project Name: Donation Box
Wood Species: Walnut & Spalted Hack-berry
Finish Used: Panels and rails & stiles pre-sanded to 150 and then light hand sanding after assembly to 180. Two coats of 50/50 mix of tung oil and boiled linseed oil thinned with mineral spirits
Friends of mine frequently hold parties and set out a box for collecting donations to whatever charity that party is benefiting (they do this about 4 to 6 times a year). Many years ago another friend had made them a decorated shoe box to take donations. Well at our 2010 Halloween party someone decided they deserved the money in the box more then the charity we were donating to (I believe we were supporting a local charity who helps provide Christmas meals and gifts for local families in need). Given the current economy they may have felt they were a family in need, but still pilfering from the donation box was in bad form. They got away with something in excess of $1000. The hosts of the party allow people who want receipts via e-mail after the event to put their donations in envelopes with their names on it. A number of donors contacted the hosts looking for their receipts and some of these are regular donors who tend to be fairly generous.
Anyway, it was clearly time for a box that locked. The hosts planned to just go get a locking metal box. I couldn’t let that happen for so many reasons-the previous box had shown off someone’s crafting skills. The woman who made it was a big scrap booking guru and it was a nicely done box, but there was no way to lock a shoe box. In addition I truly felt that putting a gray metal box with a key lock up front and prominent in everyone’s face was awfully insulting to all those honest generous people who routinely dig deep to support charitable efforts.
Well this gave me a chance to use some spalted hack-berry logs I had rescued off an old friend’s firewood pile from a dead tree he had removed after it got knocked down in a storm. It also gave me an opportunity to try my hand at making rail and stile panels. All of the spalted hack-berry panels were cut just using simple bevel cuts on the table saw to make the raised panels.
It was important to me to hide the lock, so I routed a short slot in the center of the plywood bottom panel and put a lock hasp for a lock to hide under the bottom panel. The back panel slides up to access the donated money at the end of any event. I did have to hide a couple of mistakes due to making through cuts for the groove the bottom panel goes in. The grove cut on the inside of the front panel needed to be cut as stopped dado/groove and not cut the whole length of the panel. Well I believe it was towards the end of a long day of making all the rails and stiles and the center panels that I cut the bottom panel grooves. That just goes to show sometimes its better to head off to bed then to keep going when its already late at night. Well in the assembly I fixed it by making a tapered rectangular plug out of scrap walnut of the project and glued the plugs in and flush cut them and sanded them out smooth–it looks like you can see one in the first picture down near the bottom front side corner.
My only regret on this project was rushing towards the end and not doing a more complete finish with a few coats of thinned satin poly. However, it had to be ready for a New Years Eve party and between my holiday gift building efforts and then a bit of procrastination on my part. The last bit of this project came down to a few long days while on holiday vacation between Christmas and NYE. I still think given the rush at the end, it came out fairly well and it definitely serves its purpose with a bit more class then a gray metal lockbox. I am glad I finally got a chance to do rail/stile type construction and I learned a lot doing it and plan to use what I learned on future projects.