I’m occasionally asked “Are you an artist?”, to which I reply “Please double-hutch the renfro Billy, tuppence for the Lady”, which is my way of saying “yes, but a mildly eccentric one”. I have a natural distrust of artists because I know how easy it is to bullshit your way past the defensives of art-impaired civilians though it’s mostly been architects, actors and film directors I’ve ever seen pulling that stunt. So what’s this thing in the picture you’re wondering. THAT my friends, is a wooden box that I made to hold Sauron’s One Ring of Power, back in the early-1990’s before the films were a glimmer in the studios’ budgets. Did I mention that my ringbox is mechanized?
Yesssssssssss my Preciousssssssss, it actually worksssssss, it doesssss!
How does it work? I can barely remember. For real, I could kick myself for only taking one blurry photo of some of the parts as I put the damned thing together. From what I recall, I fashioned two shafts from thin copper pipe, slipping springs around them to provide the lift. I ringed the perimeter of the box with Tokien’s simple runic alphabet that I found in the Lord of the Rings books. Interestingly, the letter “S” landed dead center along one side of the box, which worked out perfectly to be location of the box’s hidden release.
That release, the one that allows the inlaid portion of the lid to snap upward, was carved from wood and painstakingly worked to provide the smoothest action possible. Truthfully, I can’t remember how much time I spent making the release work but I do know from experience that I’ll tweak something endlessly to get it to work right. Note how that inlaid portion flips back to reveal a circular inset area for the ring? That’s a carved wooden hinge and the principal of Inertia at work. The little hidden ring holder is the only interior portion of the box and to my embarrassment it doesn’t share the same level of detail with the rest of the box.
The box itself is made of wood from one of those hardwood variety packs that you find at a hobby store. I think that there’s a bit of cherry and redwood in it but I’m not sure. The carving in the lid of the ringbox is from J.R.R. Tolkien’s illustration of the Misty Mountains (isn’t that what it is?) so often featured on the cover of his book “The Hobbit”.
There’s a nice satisfying ka-CHUNK (twinngg!) sound when the box opens and it closes best when the button is pressed in a bit as the secret compartment is pressed back down into place. The ring? It was the fake wedding band that Richard Dean Anderson wore when we were shooting the made-for-TV movie “Past the Bleachers”. So, like, that’s cool I guess(?).
This is the second mechanized box that I’ve ever built, the first “DuncanBox” went to a girl from Charleston that I had a everlasting gobstopper crush on. There is a third mechanized DuncanBox titled “Bloom” that I began building but got too busy to finish. I hope to complete it one day… it operates on the principal similar to an hourglass… I hope.