Pilgrim Box

Carve a traditional 17th century valuables box from quartered fresh oak

Sometimes called Bible Boxes, these large oak boxes with a till on the inside were used for valuables in the 17th century. Often decorated with repeating patterns of foliate carving done in freshly riven green wood, the parts were then simply nailed together. Contrary to the image of dour and dark clothes and interiors, 17th century furniture was often painted in bright reds, yellows and white. The carving we’ll do on this box is after the manner of Thomas Dennis from Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Working and carving quartered fresh oak is really fun. Unlike its kiln-dried cousin, this stuff doesn’t fight back, but gives up beautiful shavings and yields to the carving tools while revealing the shimmering flecks of the quartered grain. Beautiful! We will start with riven blanks, plane the stock, and then carve the sides before joining it together with nails. The top and bottom are pine and even the hinge is made of wood. A small till, or lidded box, gets fit into the interior of the box. If you’ve never played with green oak before, you will be amazed at how much fun it is!

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