Upcycled! A Silverware Box Finds A New Life And Look

Sometimes I find gems at salvage shops. Not always, usually I have to squint really hard at an item to decide whether or not something is going to translate into something great, or actually be purposeful, or ask myself if it’s just going to take up space unnecessarily in my home. This simple wooden box was one of my latest finds, and one that I knew I might have for a long time:

Wooden box found at a salvage shop.

It’s from a silverware collection, lined with tarnish-prevnting felt and designed to clasp forks, spoons, and knives when not in use.

Oh, and it was $3. Look hard and thou shall find beautiful things. What I also decided it would be great for is jewelry storage, the perfect little home for my silver necklaces and earrings that are quick to tarnish.

Silverware box about to become a jewelry box.

Keep on reading to see how I planned and executed a unique design for my new jewelry box:

I started by getting inspired, which is basically where any great project begins. Two things popped to mind that could make my jewelry box unique, contemporary, and personlized. First, I knew I wanted to employ my new $18 woodburning kit (a handy hobby tool that I used to personalize a manly Christmas present). Second, Jaime Derringer, the founder and executive editor of the popular blog Design Milk, has taken on a mission to draw a shape each day of this year. Each sketch she shares is mesmerizing, sometimes complicated in their own right but clean-lined, geometric, and unique, and I think you’d like them too–even this far into the year her collection of images present like a gallery (you can follow her progress on Flickr and at #ashapeaday2013 on instagram and twitter).

I set out to customize the box by first drawing a series of sketches, shapes, formations with a pencil and ruler. The winning design took inspiration from the way I painted my sunroom floor; purposefully off-center, I tweaked it to be a little more interesting and contemporary by adding additional paralleling lines.

An inspired sketch leads to a woodburning craft.

After cleaning the salvaged box gently to remove residue and some inherent second-hand store grime, I transferred the sketch onto the box top surface by recreating it almost exactly with the ruler and a red china marker. The china marker is ideal because it showed up better on the finished surface than a pencil, and wasn’t as permanent as a marker might have been. (Note, the finer details I did on the fly because I didn’t think that the red wax could mark the surface as accurately as I could freehand with the burning tool.)

Transfer the pattern onto the wood with a china marker.

The wood burning tool can be a little hard to get the hang of, and to help give the tool a path to follow I also went over the lines with a ball point pen to break the finish of the wood. Its gouge is minimal, but would be enough for the point of the burning tool to follow. It is at this point that there is no going back with your intentions to change the smooth appearance of your canvas!

Etch over the lines with a ballpoint pen.

I haven’t used the woodburning tool to full capacity yet, so I toyed with a few of the 15 different tip attachments to see what worked best.

Different burning tips for the new tool.

The tool works best when it’s hot. And not just hot, and not hot-hot, I mean, use it at it’s maximum burning potential after it has been plugged in to the wall for 15 minutes and is hot-hot-hot. It’s like an ironing torch, and it needs a while to heat up. Never fear though, if you start using the tool prematurely you can always go back over and reburn the areas that you already have passed. Slower passes burn quickly, while moving the instrument quickly allowed less contact time and less burn. This would be an important tip if you were, say, looking to shade something or produce a gradient effect.

Woodburning the top of a wooden box.

It’s not a fast project, I’ll say that. Burning evenly takes time, patience, and constant attention. I sat hovered over my project for nearly two hours with a cotton rag in my lap to clean off the tip of the tool periodically.

Woodburning the top of a wooden box.

The main design came along quite nicely. I love the definition of the dark burned wood, it’s as if western design met a contemporary lover.

Woodburning on a jewelry box.

When I added the extra paralleling lines, the design matched my vision and sketch.

Woodburning on a jewelry box.

I vacuumed the interior of the box out really well before I added any of my silver jewelry to it. It fits my modest collection of silver, and then some. Really, you should know that what you’re seeing in the next picture is all of about $70 of inexpensive accessories, I’m thrifty in the accessory arena too.

Silverware box turned jewelry box.

It’s especially nice to be able to consolidate jewelry, because wherein I had 4 small boxes and a hanging display of necklaces before, now I’m back to having a single box, a less cluttered hanging display, and a streamlined dresser surface.

Custom jewelry box.

Custom Jewelry Box.


Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.

9 Responses

  1. Audrey_1 says:

    The silverware box is a great find for a handsome price of $3! I wish I have the eyes that find treasures like this as well as the knack for making something nice into something better. Five star effort!

  2. What a great find. Working in the antique industry we often get a lot of these boxes but they are usually damaged and in need of repair before they can be used. Quite a transformation and nice to see antique boxes being revised and brought to life, in your case also given a new use.
    <ahref="http://www.acsilver.co.uk">AC Silver

  3. Moodyvega says:

    The design looks like you purchased it like that. Very cool idea for wood product around the home.

  4. Carol B says:

    Now I wish I had kept mine

  5. Pauline E Maxey says:

    Nice! Always need 'space for our jewelry!'

  6. Robert Woodcock says:

    Great ideal What more can you do with it. Check out fabric store for more Ideals.

  7. Janet B. says:

    I used to live in a retirement tower and people could put things they didn't want in the laundry room or in the room next to the trash shoot. I found a 2 level silerware box. I keep my rings in the knife holders, silver jewelery on one side of the silverware dividers and gold on the other. The bottom holds pins and larger items. I've had it for about 14 yrs now and just love it. It has the maker on a tag inside, which as an antique lover, adds to the value. I didn't change the finish.

    • merrypad says:

      Great find, Janet! I'm surprised how many I come across at second-hand shops now. They're everywhere, I guess people don't use them as much for fancy silverware?

  8. [...] Alternatively, I found another great use for my favorite woodburning kit (as seen in my post about the Pete Brushes). In an inspired and personalizing manner, I took a salvaged box and turned it into a practical jewelry storage system that I expect to have and use for a long time. You can see the whole project for yourself right here in a second post on DIY Network. [...]


About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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