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Veneered Box

author-gravatar Sean Jan 17, 2022


In this video I show you how I make a beautiful veneered box. The veneers used are figured black Limba on the inside, Curly Etimoe for the outside and Laurel Burl veneer for the top and bottom. The finish used for both inside and outside is a 1.5 pound cut of a dewaxed shellac. Hinges are 95 degree side rail hinges (Model SR-638) by Brusso hardware.

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

For the entire box I used 1/2" baltic birch plywood and 1/2" birdseye maple for the core structure.

Photo of Veneered Box

The 4 sides are made like a "sandwich" in that they are strips of birdseye maple and plywood. More on that later.


Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

This is the maple I used. Beautiful stuff but tears out like crazy! I probably won't use this again for a while.

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

Birdseye maple(top), BB ply, maple, BB ply, maple. Essentially the maple is on the top, bottom and in the area where the lid is cut off so you see that instead of plywood. It's on the top and bottom so you can put a small chamfer around the edge and again see maple instead of plywood.

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

After the glue up I run all 4 panels through the drum sander to make them all smooth and a consistent thickness.

Photo of Veneered Box

Next I cut the panels to their final widths.

Photo of Veneered Box

To get a nice grain match around 3 of the 4 corners I lay the pieces out on the veneer starting with the Left side, Front, Right side, and Back side.   

Photo of Veneered Box

Trace around them with a pencil

Photo of Veneered Box

And then cut the long strip of veneer out.

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

I need another piece of veneer for the inside face so I trace the first veneer piece I cut out on to the inside veneer (curly black Limba veneer).

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

Next I cut the veneers to the exact length of the 4 side panels and mark them so I don't lose the grain matching 

Photo of Veneered Box

I roll on some veneer glue and place the veneer on both faces before sticking them in the bag.

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

After the glue dries I next need to put a rabbet on the inside top and bottom edges.

Photo of Veneered Box

Since we are working with veneer it's important from here on out to prevent tear out so I use a marking knife to scribe the veneer before using the rabbeting bit.

Photo of Veneered Box

Slowly run the piece, rotate and run again.

Photo of Veneered Box

Magic....

Photo of Veneered Box

Before gluing up the panels I like to prefinish the inside faces and I start that by sanding with 180 grit and then stopping at 220 grit. Remember, you can burn through veneer very easily so dont sand too long!

Photo of Veneered Box

I wipe on 3-4 coats of a 1.5 pound cut of shellac(dewaxed). After about the second coat I sand lightly with a 400 grit paper before applying the final coats.

Photo of Veneered Box

The final part of my finishing recipe is to wax the faces. This not only looks/smells good(depending on the wax you use) but it also prevents any squeeze out from sticking when you glue the box up.

Photo of Veneered Box

Cutting the miters should be first tested on a test piece to make sure your sled/table saw is dialed in.

Photo of Veneered Box

Using a stop block I cut all 4 pieces to size.

Photo of Veneered Box

One of the most important parts of the glue up is to make sure that the pieces are lined up perfectly. Especially if you have two rabbets that need to line up. To do this I use a straight piece of ply as my reference edge.

Photo of Veneered Box

To glue up the box, if your miters are cut correctly, all you should need is a couple pieces of tape. Add the tape, flip it over and....

Photo of Veneered Box

Add the glue!

Photo of Veneered Box

Tape the final corner and wipe away any squeeze out.

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

While the glue is drying I measure for the top and bottom panels so that I can get their inside faces veneered using the same figured black Limba veneer.

Photo of Veneered Box

Back in the bag for you two!(well, this is technically their first trip, but you know what I mean).

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

Sanding comes up next followed by 3-4 coats of shellac and then wax! Just like before. As you can tell, this is my recipe for pretty much all boxes I make. I'm not saying it's the best, just what works for me.

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

Apply glue to the rabbets on the top and bottom of the box and jam the panels in place!

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

Clamp away and give it some time to dry.

Photo of Veneered Box

I make it a point to cut the rabbets just a hair deeper than the thickness of the plywood so that I can flush trim the top and bottom of the box and make it perfectly flush.

Photo of Veneered Box

Sand with 120 grit here just to give the glue some tooth.

Photo of Veneered Box

This burl is beautiful stuff but did require flattening for 2-3 days and still gave me fits when veneering. It's delicate stuff for sure!

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

BAG TIME!!!

Photo of Veneered Box

Very lightly sand with 180 and 220 grit the top and bottom

Photo of Veneered Box

Hey don't forget about the sides!

Photo of Veneered Box

Using a hard block(wood) and 220 grit, I lightly chamfer the edges all the way around the box. I would typically use a chamfer bit at the router table but holy crap this burl was giving me fits so I didn't risk it.

Photo of Veneered Box

Cutting the lid loose is always a scary task but with a bandsaw tuned up it shouldn't be a problem.

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

I have a big piece of melamine that I put some 120 and 150 grit adhesive backed sandpaper on to flatten my freshly cut lid and base. This works amazingly well. It's a good workout too!

Photo of Veneered Box

See, I told ya! Can't see a gap anywhere.

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

To install the hinges I purchased the brusso brass hinge template that you use in conjunction with your router and a bearing. It worked "ok" but it's a pain in the ass to line up the edges with the template being so small. I have a strong opinion on hinges that I may make a dedicated video on to show what works best for me.

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

With the slots routed I pre-drill using the self-centering bit (I need to buy a new kit. The ones I have are cheap and don't work well).

Photo of Veneered Box

Cut the threads using the steel screw that comes with the hinges! You can thank me later if you didn't know this tip.

Photo of Veneered Box

Finish time with more shellac and wax!

Photo of Veneered Box

The curly Etimoe is beautiful stuff.

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

Done! Hope you enjoyed this one. Now check out some beauty shots.

Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box
Photo of Veneered Box

1 comment

Wow Sean very nice! I haven't seen anything from you in awhile. Now sleeve that bad-boy and put an interior in it. It would make a nice humidor. 

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