Beads of Courage is a supportive care program for children coping with serious illness. The participating children receive a colorful bead for each illness-related experience they have, serving as symbols of the courage each child shows throughout their arduous treatment. For critical milestones in their treatment journey they receive handmade one-of-a-kind glass beads that are donated by members of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers. 

Our role as woodturners is a simple one: to create and donate wood turned boxes for these children to keep their treasured beads in. As they endure their arduous treatment process, the children gain strength and courage from these tangible symbols of the love and support of the community around them. What better purpose could we find as woodturners?

Guidelines for Turning a Bead Box

Summary Guidelines

Beads of Courage children may receive thousands of beads. It is desirable for your boxes to hold them all. As a result, turned lidded boxes need to be large. Larger is better! Recommended interior dimensions for turned boxes are at least 6'' diameter, 5'' height.

Box bases should be wide enough so the box is stable and does not tip over easily. Lids for Beads of Courage boxes should be easy for small or ill children to remove or lift. Any finials should be easy for a small child to grasp and not too elaborate so they don't break. Avoid excessively elaborate designs that may easily break or be damaged; remember, hospital rooms have limited storage space.

Finishing of boxes is extremely important! Beads of Courage members who receive these boxes are susceptible to germs/ infections/mold. Bowls that have not been properly sealed can harbor mold. Please take the time to ensure you are using a safe finishing process that does not contain toxic materials. Also do not use finishes like linseed oil that take a long time to outgas. All kinds of wood are beautiful! Please refrain from painting Beads of Courage boxes, aside from smaller decorations. Instead, highlight the beauty of the wood with clear varnish, a stain, and/or burning.

You can find further detailed guidelines here.

Here are three short Jim Rodgers Videos demonstrating a way to make a Beads of Courage Box

Part 1 - Starting the Box

Part 2 - Making the Top of the Box

Part 3 - Decorating the Top

Get help - Member at Large Larry Batti is available to answer any questions you may have, and he can also supply free Beads of Courage logo beads to mount on your projects if you like.  Contact Larry by email or by phone at 925.997.9548

More About Beads of Courage

Beads of Courage programs are now in 260 children's hospitals, supporting 60,000 children each year in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the U.K. Every time a bead is given, courage is honored, suffering is alleviated, resilience is strengthened, and the experience of human caring is affirmed. To learn more go to

Go to AAW

Bay Area Woodturners Association is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit local chapter of the American Association of Woodturners, which has over 13,000 members and 330+ chapters in the United States and abroad.     

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