Friends of ours asked if Jim would build them two urns. Unusual request…but an honor really. Always up for a challenge we agreed to give it a go.
After some research on the internet, I came up with a standard size for urns. If the inside dimensions are 200 cu inches, it will hold the ashes of someone up to 200 lbs. Who knew. Since neither of these people are anywhere close to 200 lbs, we chose the dimensions based on roughly a little less than 200 cu ft give or take.
They said they would supply the wood and gave Jim a couple of 2 x 12 ash boards. Rough looking as they were stored in the barn, I wasn’t sure how this was going to go.
First Jim took the boards to the sawmill to cut them down to 1/2 inch thick. Then each board got planed smooth down to 3/8 inch thick and things started looking up. What beautiful wood.
With the boards planed, it was time to cut the out the four sides of each box. So eight sides. We were aiming for continuous grain running around the box. Jim used the miter saw for this part. We then numbered the ends so they would go back together the same way.
On to the corners. Jim said it has been a few years, like 30 years (cough) ago, since he has done box joint corners but I knew he could absolutely do it. He can do anything. First he built a box joint jig, and after a practice corner on some of the scrap wood it was time to cut out the box joints of the actual pieces.
On one long side of each urn (the front), Jim cut out an oval using the scroll saw.
Here are the pieces for one urn lined up waiting for glue.
It’s important to get the glue right down inside so we used an old, small paint brush and Jim “painted” glue onto each side of the box joint fingers…
Then fitted the sides together…
With both boxes fitted together, they got clamped and left overnight.
When they were good and dry, clamps were removed and Jim used glue and sawdust mixed together to fill any gaps.
With that dry it was on to sanding the corners. Look how pretty they turned out, if I do say so myself!
So only a few things left to do. First thing is a top and bottom for each urn. We wanted to keep it pretty simple. Did you know that urns have a fixed top that can’t be opened, and a bottom that is held on with screws? Well they do. The ashes are placed in the urn by unscrewing the bottom.
Here are the tops and bottoms of each one, not yet assembled.
Notice how with this matched set, the grain even runs continuously over the two tops.
We wanted to personalize these urns for specific people, one a farmer, so that one was easy, and the other for his wife who is great at everything and has lots of interests, so a little more thinking had to be done for hers.
We ultimately decided on a farm and tractor scene for him, and a country lane with a garden off to the side for her.
My sister does fabulous wood burning so I asked her if she would give us a hand with this part. After a browse around the internet, I found a couple of images that I could tweak to suit the purpose and got to work drawing them out.
I brought the drawings, the two front panels, and a piece of scrap wood to my sisters place and got her to wood burn onto the scrap wood for me to take home and practice color washing.
A couple of days later she let me know they were ready for pickup. She’s quick. The panels look exactly like the drawings, only better.
Here I was starting to add a little color. Never did this before so just used a light hand with water based paint and water. Can always add, can’t subtract. (Never mind my painting apron).
While my sister and I were working on the panels, Jim was giving the urn’s sides, tops and bottoms a coat of Early American stain.
Once everything was ready for assembly, Jim glued the tops in place and added the panels behind the ovals using glue as well. Then the bottoms got holes predrilled and screwed on.
Ready to see??
Considering we were given no direction, with everything left up to us, I hope they like them.