Cedar Box

Around 1939 my grandfather Gomer Welch a air plane pilot, a tool maker for GM and an all  around great person to learn from. He built a simple box made from cedar. The story is that he made it for his wife Katheryn, aka Doll. Doll gave the box to her daughter Dee Ann, aka Dee Dee. Doll filled this box up with doll clothes and gave the box and the clothes to Dee Dee. Dee Dee kept the box for years, not sure how many. Some how the box ended up in my mothers hands. All this happened way before I was born.  I remember seeing the box around the house for years. I can’t remember what was stored in the box, but probably pictures.

About a year ago Mom gave me the box to put a new lid on it. The box sat around in my shop for close to a year. I was cleaning the shop and came across the box again. I figured it would make a good video to restore the box. Here is the process to revive this heirloom cedar box.

The box had three broken legs, a broken lid, one broken handle and a broken hinge. One of the concerns I had was should I resurface the box, sand it down or just clean it? I decided to tare apart the box and run the parts through the planner. This was a very slow process, I wanted to save the wood, but clean it as well.

Cedar Box(6)The box is broken apart. All the pieces came apart easily. I think there was laundry detergent stains and plenty of other stuff on it. Before planning I sanded a corner to see what the wood looked like. It look good so I proceeded to the next step.

I had the cedar 4X4 post in the shop since last years bird house challenge. I never did use it for the bird house. I cut the lid parts first so the I could glue up the panel for the lid. While the glue was drying I planned the box parts.

While the joiner was out I ran one edge of the box parts. Then went to the planner. Slow going was the key here. Slow passes and only removed 1/32nd at a time. You can see the difference between the old and fresh wood. After cleanup, I trued one edge and cleaned up the rabbits.

The box was missing three of its original feet, so made four new oness. I use Red Cedar for the feet and handles.

Cedar Box(21)After cleaning up the boards, they were pinch over a 1/4 inch thick. Keeping the box square during clamping was fun.

Cedar Box(24)Mounted the bottom and trued up the edge to the faces with my rarely used hand plan.

Cedar Box(28)
First, look at the box cleaned up. At this stage I was getting very excited to get some finish on it. You’ll see why in a minute.

Cedar Box(30)I used the same hinges and screws. When putting the lid on I use these scrap pieces of lumber to hold the hinge on with double sided tape. This allowed me to center the lid and press the lid down onto the tape and have a place to mark my holes. This worked well but is hard to explain. Watch the video.

The before pictures during tear down.
I’m so glad I had the opportunity to redue a project that my grandfather had a part in. I was very young when he died so I didn’t have the opportunity to learn a whole lot from him. I here stories from the family of the stuff he would make. What I took away from this project were his skills as a wood worker and his thought process as I was taking the box apart. I reassembled the box in the same manner.