Dancing Bears Toybox

Pine and Eight other kinds of wood

My good friends Devin and Ruth were having a baby so I decided to make a toybox for them. I wanted it to be both functional and pretty ... something the family would keep for a long time. The dancing bears, of course, are from the Grateful Dead, my favorite band ... it turns out that they started life as the imprint on some paper distributed by a guy named Owsley many years ago, but thats another story :-)

The bear on the top is Mahogony with a Poplar scarf. I used 1/4" wood for the inlay on top because I felt it would take the brunt of the wear and tear better over timen than the thinner 1/8" stock. (If its ever damaged, all that's needed is some sanding and a coat of laquer). On the front of the box are three bears, one of PurpleHeart with a Maple kerchief, the second of Mahogony with a Padouk scarf, and the third is made of Padouk and Cherrywood.

The bear on the left side of the box is Maple with a Mahogony scarf (all of the bears on the front and sides are 1/8" inlays) and the bear on the right is Cherry with a PurpleHeart scarf. All together, counting the Oak handles, there were NINE kinds of wood used in the construction of this box !!

The box was constructed in the usual way ... I cut the top, bottom, and sides from 5/8" pine "tabletop" pieces I got at my local lumber yard. The box uses mitre joints and the top and bottom are laid into 3/8" deep dados. I cut all the bears out of their respective woods, sanded them to fit nicely, then drew the outlines and routed them into the pine. After setting the pieces into the pine with epoxy glue (and some dark sawdust for coloring), and rough sanding, I assembled the box. Then after the box dried, I cut the top off and attached the hardware.

Finishing touches included lots of sanding, adding epoxy fillets to the inside of the joints for additional strength, attaching a child-proof soft-down-support, and giving it three or four good coats of clear laquer (with sanding in-between coats) to provide for a durable, lasting finish.

I envision Devin and Ruth storing things in it while the child is a newborn, then when he or she is old enough to walk, I can see the child peeking over the rim into the box :-) At the age of six it'll be kind of scratched and older looking, and by the time they become a teenager, it would not surprise me if he/she hides it in a closet :-) Maybe even when old enough for college, he or she will struggle with the decision to take it with them or leave it behind at home :-)

In any case, I hope the whole family enjoys it for many years to come.