Making a Magic Box: Stage 1

I have been wanting a place to store my important magical weapons and other important tools for a while now.  As much as I’ve enjoyed keeping them out on my altar on a permanent basis, they’re starting to become part of my mundane landscape.  They’re just another part of the stuff I keep around me, and my brain is increasingly reading them more as bric-a-brac rather than important sacred objects.

I had thought that what I would do after I moved out of my current home would be to get a sofa table with drawers in it to use as my altar and then just store my tools in the drawers.  But then I thought about what I would do if I needed to transport my tools to a covenmate’s house for a working, or if I was going to go do a ritual outside or something.  It would be very inconvenient to unpack everything from the drawers only to repack them into a case, so I started looking for different boxes I could convert into a special ritual tool case.

Well, after a lot of searching, I determined that my best chance to get something big enough to store a 14-inch long wand and a 3.5-inch wide chalice at an affordable price would be to scour eBay in search of a deep silverware chest.  These wooden boxes are usually somewhere between 11 and 14 inches wide and 12 and 20 inches long, so that fits my parameters.  Unfortunately, silverware is known as flatware for a reason: these boxes typically aren’t very deep, maybe 3.5 inches at most.  However, if you find one with a removable tray, the box itself is usually about 6 inches deep.  It took a lot of eBay diligence, but I eventually found this guy.

My new box, as pictured by the eBay seller.  I forgot to take a picture before I started sanding.

My new box, as pictured by the eBay seller. I forgot to take a picture before I started sanding.

It’s a beauty:  19 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 6 inches deep.  The interior has an easy 4.25 inches depth in the base and an additional inch in the lid.  It was originally purchased in 1948 from the Fine Arts Sterling Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I thought about keeping the exterior finish in its original condition and just ripping out the silver cloth lining the interior, but I thought better of it.  I really love the feel of wood finished just in oil or beeswax.  It feels alive, and shellacked pieces don’t.  And then there was the small detail that the 66-year-old finish had really seen better days.  There were several dings and scrapes, and it looks like someone had occasionally used the top to rest hot pans since there were marks that look more like burns than anything else.  So out came the sandpaper.

The box after six hours of sanding with 80 grit sandpaper.

The box after six hours of sanding with 80-grit sandpaper.

This is about as far as 6 hours of sanding with 80-grit paper has gotten me.  That shellac did not want to budge for hell or highwater, and the job is compounded by the fact that three of the six surfaces are nothing but curves.  I had to hand sand the curved sides down by hand in tiny little chunks at a time, which took forever and resulted in my right arm declaring mutiny against the rest of my body.  It was, however, rather fun watching the box turn from a shiny black/brown to a wine red and now to a light pink similar to tulipwood.  I still have the back to sand down, and the bottom’s giving me a bit of trouble.  It was never shellacked, so it’s absorbed 66 years of Gods know what, and that’s proving hard to sand off.  I may just give that part up.

Now it’s just a matter of finishing up the sanding on my next weekend warrior day, scraping the gunk and glue out of the inside, and figuring out how to shape foam and re-line the interior.  But since I can now see what a huge difference sanding made to the exterior, I’m starting to ponder how I’ll eventually finish it.  Originally, I was just going to rub tung oil or beeswax into the surface, but I’m thinking I might want it to visually pop on the lower shelf of a console table, which will probably be a natural wood finish itself.  I’m starting to think I’ll stain it a bright green color, maybe Minwax’s Green Tea stain?  This is what that looks like on a piece of furniture.  Not terrible at all, really, and it certainly pops against natural wood tones.  I think it might do.

From the blog Nine Red

From the blog Nine Red


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