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Locked out

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I recently finished a beautiful paperweight in walnut and solid brass. Unfortunately, it wasn’t supposed to be a paperweight. It just ended up that way.

A local gallery/gift shop requested some of the banks I make with antique P.O. box doors. I’ve made a ton of these over the years and could almost do one with my eyes closed.

I made a half-dozen for the gallery – some in oak, some walnut – and they came out very nice. Now, something you have to understand about making these things is that P.O. boxes were made to be tamperproof. That makes them perfect for banks unless, of course, you lack the combination.

When I make these I write the combination on the little window in the door with a Sharpie, and also keep track of the combinations on a notepad. Once the banks are completed, I etch a serial number on the bottom, add that bank’s number and combination to an ever-growing file I keep on my computer, and clean the glass window.

But while making this batch of banks, the glass on one was partially rubbed clean as I worked and I hadn’t noticed that one of the numbers was gone until I went to etch a serial number on the bottom. No problem, I’ll just check my notepad. But when I did I found that in shuffling stuff around on my workbench the very bottom of the page I wrote the combinations on was torn off. As it happens, the combination I needed was at the bottom and the tear went right through it. Now, there’s one digit still on the glass so I have half the combination – but I don’t know if it’s the first or second number. I haven’t done the math, but although having that single digit lowers the number of potential combinations, not knowing the sequence or the other number leaves a huge range of combinations. Too many for a trial-and-error attempt, and it’s a bit late in life for me to pursue a career as a yeggman.

No, that bank is locked for good. Oops, I mean paperweight.

Of course, I can cut the box open and salvage the valuable door (you can determine the combination from the gearing on the door’s back) and build a new box. I will eventually, but no time to do it now and still make my delivery.

Till next time,


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