I have a little bit of a cuff-link fetish. The problem that I have is storing them safely so that they don't get damaged, I decided that it was high time that I bought a suitable box that would look after them. I was amazed at the cost of them! We are talking over £100 for a decent wood box to store them! As most of my frequent readers will know by now; I am extremely "cost efficient". I am also a great believer in re-purposing items rather than throwing them away. I even created this section of my website to craft projects that involve re-purposing old quality items so that they have a place in a modern setting.
I decided that I would look for an old cutlery set box. No one that I know keeps a set of cutlery for "best" and these boxes are now sadly thrown away and the cutlery placed in the draw. I say sadly as many of these boxes are very good quality. A quick visit to a local antiques centre and I happily walked away with a cutlery box that has seen better days for £8 from the pumping station . in Cardiff. The plan at this moment in time is to strip out the interior of the box including the blue fabric, sand back the interior and exterior of the box, change out the hinges and clasps and then make a new interior to house my cuff-links.
The interior stripped out very easily. The clasps and fabric lid stops were nailed into place and were carefully pulled away from the box to minimise damage. The hinges were also nailed into place but the manufacturer had used very long nails and bent these over inside. If I hadn't removed the fabric from the inside of the box I would not have seen this and would have caused irreparable damage to the box. A word of advice is to carefully strip these old pieces if your unsure how they are put together.
I decided to strip away the decades of grime from the outside and the glue and fabric from the inside by sanding it all with my electric palm sander. Again please remember that these boxes are all different. While I was looking around the antique centre I had a variety of these old cutlery cases to look at. Some were covered in wood veneer which is very thin and does not like being sanded to the extent that I will be doing. What I am trying to say is; choose your box carefully! Using some very fine sandpaper I carefully removed the varnish from the outside of the box. Wear a dust mask because when these were made, health and safety was not exactly at the forefront of manufacturers minds!
The box stripped, I opted to finish it in some Ronseal wax. I decided on this finish as it feeds the wood, gives a lovely satin finish, can be colour controlled by the amount of coats applied and I had some in the attic so I didn't have to buy anything!
For the interior of the box I had "acquired" some nylon batting from work and some silver velvet material from my sister in law. I also used some heavy duty double sided carpet tape, some UHU glue and a hot glue gun. I won't take the time to fully explain the manufacture of the cuff-link holder section as I used these instructions from a quick web search:
I had originally planned on making the whole box as one big cuff-link holder but as I was making it my wife Jayne looked over my shoulder and suggested that I make a small section of the box (approximately 2/3rds) as a section that would hold my watch and other items. I used some bass wood strips that were cut to size and covered in felt as a divider and then lined the whole area.
The original hinges and claps were unfortunately beyond redemption, however the feet that I had previously removed only needed a clean up with some emery cloth to get rid of the surface rust and they were as good as new. I had a small bag of hinges from e-bay that I had bought for a previous project so I decided to use three of these. I ordered a pair of claps (only needing one) for the front of the box (again from e-bay). I have also ordered a small box lid stay in the same antique brass finish although at the time of writing this page; it has yet to arrive from Hong Kong. I also filled the original clasp holes with an old carpenters trick of coating the end of a cocktail stick in some wood glue, showing it into the hole and then cut off the excess and sand smooth to the original wood.
The finished box with price list
I will say with some caution that the cuff link box or gentleman's case is now finished as my wife is thinking of brightening up the lid with possibly a decoupage finish? but to date the costs for me are:
Hinges £1.20 (for 10)
Clasp £1.89 (for 2)
Glue stick --------
double tape ---------
For me a total cost of a little over £12 makes this an absolute bargain when one considers how little work it took to finish it and combined with the results and cost of over £100 for a modern version makes this a MUST DO project for anyone who wants a "proper" storage for cuff-links or to become "husband of the year" and make a ring case for the wife!
Here it is and as always I welcome your comments: