“A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hand and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist” –Louis Nizer

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Military Retirement Keepsake Boxes


This really should have occurred to me sooner, but I’m just realizing that as a woodworker, I’m going to have a chance to play a small role in a number of special stories.

Several months ago I was contacted by a US Air Force Master Sergeant stationed at the Pentagon.  A chain of major events was about to happen in his life.   In the short span of eight weeks he would retire from the military, celebrate twenty years of marriage to his wife,  celebrate his wife’s birthday, AND celebrate his youngest son’s high school graduation. In his words, it would be “a nice run”!

He was looking for my help to create something special for his sons to both mark his retirement and thank his sons for their personal sacrifices made during his military career.  He wasn’t looking for a traditional “flag and medals shadow box” as is commonly seen in military retirements.  He wanted a gift for each of his two boys. It needed to be something of heirloom quality that combined day to day functionality, beautiful form, and serve as a place to safeguard his military medals.

These boxes are the result of his request.  Both are engraved with a special message that he composed as well as the dates and locations of each of his military assignments.  With each change in assignment and location, his wife and boys went alongside.  My friend, Floyd Seese, from http://kaleidoscopelasergifts.com helped me with the engraving.

The box fronts are made from some highly figured black walnut.  The other two species used are cherry and maple (no surprise to anyone familiar with my website).  The bottom drawer is for the Master Sergeant to store his medals, splitting them between his two sons.  The top area is for the boys to use day to day for storage- wallet, rings, tie tacks, keys, pocket lint, etc.

It was truly an honor to participate in this project.  I would like to offer my very sincere thanks to the Master Sergeant for his service to this great country in protecting our freedom and future.  I wish you great happiness and success as you enter the next phase of your life.  Congratulations!

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