The Birthday Gift Project

My bride of almost five years is the most important person to me. We went to high school together, dated some, but went our separate ways. We came together in 2012 and planned to marry when she joined me here in Phoenix. While planning our wedding, my priest asked for her baptismal certificate from whatever church she was baptized in. She said she had not been baptized and to his credit he said, “We must baptize her before the wedding” as no one can be married in the Orthodox Church except those who have been baptized in the name of the Most Holy Trinity. His plan was to baptize her, do the wedding and teach her the Catechism afterward over time. 
Over the past four plus years, she has studied and learned, experiencing God through the Divine Liturgy and feasts of the Church. The Antiochian Service Book, usually in the pew pockets at the parish temple has helped guide her, containing the services, and prayers of the Church. The most difficult thing was that often they were taken home by people, or moved to other places in the parish temple so she struggled to get one to use at services. She needed one that was hers, one that no one could “mistake” for theirs, one that would be unique. 

I started with the concept for this project in January 2017. I have always admired the ornamental covers on the Gospel Book and the Epistle Book at the Parish Temple. I checked and those are very expensive. I decided to put a metal cover on a service book and give it to Carol. 

I have all sorts of experience in working, I learned a little about a great number things in the past 58 years. I was once a cosmetic worker in a repair plant that repairs airplane parts. I learned about sheet metal there. 

I created a pattern for the pieces that I needed. 

I found a sheet metal vendor, not far away and chose a shiny brass that’s almost a gold color. I drew and cut patterns for the pieces that I needed from poster board. I took them to the sheet metal superstore and they sent them to the shop that they use to cut specialized shapes. That shop uses a water jet cutter. 

They sent the metal off to be cut. 

I received the three pieces that I ordered cut and then worked with the guy at the sheet metal shop to put the initial bends in each. I need a board that is 1/2 inch thick or a little less to hold the spine piece for drilling. I’ll go to Home Depot Monday looking for that. 


I have most of the parts collected up. I’ll get it all done in a few weeks. I have to work on this when Carol is at work on Monday and Tuesday. 

May 8, 2017 

Today I assembled the portable workbench that I bought to do this project. I got a piece of wood that is almost exactly the right size for the binding piece to slip on the end. I will use this to hold the binding piece for drilling the holes to attach the hinges. I cut the hinges tonight and they are ready for their next step. Plan for tomorrow is to drill the practice metal and do some practice rivets. Perhaps I can attach the hinges to the binding section. It doesn’t appear that I can remove the pin from the hinge so they must be attached in a way that I can work around all of the limitations. 

I finally had the opportunity to start bucking rivets only to learn that the holes in the hinges themselves are too large, slightly, for the rivets. So this week I’ll need to drill 1/8 inch holes in the hinges then drill new holes in the spine section. It should not matter since it will be folded under ultimately hidden from view. 

August 7, 2017

I finally was afforded time to finish this project. I have only been able to work on it when my bride was working on my day off. Sometimes in her job, shifts get cancelled and that makes it tougher to work on this project because I do not want her to know what I’m doing until it’s complete. 

I drilled the new holes in the hinges and completed the rivets for the pieces. Then I bent the riveted flaps under on the spine first. I was a bit surprised by the imprint of the rivets showing on the outside of the spine. I needed to prevent that on the other pieces. I determined that the thickness of a credit card would be enough space. I took one of those advertisements that has a credit card type card on the letter, and I cut it so I could put it under the rivets to prevent it from imprinting on the outside. After folding the flap in this manner, I could remove the plastic card from the final product. 

I completed the bending, now the book is covered. I used a rubber mallet to complete the folding and the book is covered. The outside is marred with finger prints and scratches that could not be avoided due to my working conditions and my makeshift bench, so I’m going to need to polish it up. I got some Never Dull metal polish at Walmart just for that. 


I want a couple bookmarks so my bride can mark places she wants in the book and found a golden cord with tassels on the ends. I drilled a spot on the hidden part of the spine to attach it. It will be a nice addition to the overall book. 

I want to decorate the front with a cross, I have an idea for a gift box to present it to my bride, so tomorrow I will go to Hobby Lobby again. 

August 8, 2017

Hobby Lobby has these real neat gift boxes, I chose shiny gold, and with a bit of foam and some purple satin, and I found a nice cross to use on the front. 


I polished the surface, and affixed the cross using Gorilla Glue. I measured and cut the foam, and covered it in the satin for presentation. 

I want something to cover the inside surface of the covers where the folded metal comes together. I decided to print two icons and laminate them with an adhesive back. I placed Saint Thekla, my bride’s patron on the inside front cover and Saint Paul, my patron, on the inside of the back cover.


I printed the Troparion for the Saint on the print of the icon for her personal devotional use.


My project is complete, boxed and ready for her. Carol’s birthday is the eleventh but that’s a day we won’t see each other except for a few minutes as she gets ready for work. Ordinarily she is unable to consider much conversation when she’s trying to get dressed in the morning. I want this to be a time when she can take it all in. 
After she has come home, while she is eating, this conversation took place:

Me: I have your birthday present ready for you

Her: Let’s wait until Friday when it’s my birthday

Me: well I won’t see you on Friday 

Her: you’re real excited to give it to me aren’t you? 

Me: yes

Her: okay…

Her pleasure and surprise were really the best reward this husband could hope for. 

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