Unlike the amazing casket worked by Janice Gail which used the Double Casket form we provide, Edith wanted to incorporate her extremely talented husband John into the making. I think this is wonderful because it has truly become an heirloom for their children. I sell the hardware and the locks to students who want to have a go at designing their own cabinet and interior.
Edith used basically the outside dimensions from the templates that are available in the course and
then the two of them took it from there and used the pictures of the old caskets to work out the interiors.
John had quite a bit to say about the process and the lessons he learned making the casket as well as the terrific carrying case that goes with it (if you make one - you HAVE to take it around to guild meetings!!). John's advice is laid out here:
"Making the boxes was a challenge and still is. There were no plans, just measurements of the outside of the boxes. I had to figure out the thickness of the stock and used 1/4’ stock which I doubled for the doors. The many pictures were invaluable and still are.
One mistake I made was not allowing enough leeway on the drawer to accommodate the paper or silk. It needs more leeway than expected. I used basswood on one box and it is easy to work and sand. I got a deal on beechwood on the other but it is hard and heavier. I was able to reduce the size of the drawers enough with my stationary sander which has a belt and a disc. It would be difficult to do this project without that power tool.
The ring holder in the hidden drawer I made too high so it will only allow for band type rings. The screws for the hinges would look better if they had smaller heads like nails. I agree the nails will not hold well. In other boxes I have made I have filed down the heads of steel screws but that would take the tin plating off. It was quite late in the 19th century before the advent of brass screws so one would not want the brass to show. It is important to produce a bevel at enough angle for the top lid to close well
I turned the feet out on a lathe and the put the groove in with a carving gouge. Gesso was applied and paint and then fake gold leaf. It is not difficult to apply the leaf. A coat of shellac was applied over the leaf. One good aspect of having all the wood covered is revisions and repairs and mistakes can be hidden. The tools I used besides the sander and lathe were a router (not a requirement however, a fine Japanese saw, chisels, a small hand plane, a small #9 gouge, table saw, a square, many clamps, and a tack hammer. The frame was nailed and glued. An English author of a book on making rocking horses I have stated that “one
It was a fun project and I had small bits of wood every where making the 2 boxes, one with a flat top and the other with a casket top. The carrying cases for the boxes were made out of 1/2” oak. I then applied an ammonia solution which combines with the tannin in the oak to make it dark brown. A little stain was applied and it was shellacked."
I haven't yet seen John's Double Casket yet as I am sure Edith is madly embroidering it! Hopefully we will be treated to a view of it once finished!