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Birdseye Maple And Walnut Box

author-gravatar Timmy2Hands May 05, 2018

Over at they had a 2018 Spring Box Swap where members who signed up would build a box and exchange it with some other participant who's name was drawn at random.

This was my entry for the swap.

This box is made with 1/2" Walnut sides, a veneered quilted Birdseye Maple lid insert, and African Padauk corner posts. It also has a padded suede leather interior. The hinges are from Horton Brasses.

6 1/2" wide, 4 3/8" deep, and 3 3/16" tall.

The projects did not have to be built with hand tools only, that's just how I choose to work.
If you would like to see a more in depth step by step tutorial on making a box with just hand tools check out my Raised Panel Box - Hand Tool Only Build in the Guild section here on

Like most of my projects this one started out as 3D model in SketchUp.

Here is a link to the model if you want it.

I gathered the material I would need.

The veneered Birdseye panels were test pieces I had done for another project and were the driving force for the size of this box. The Padauk is a cut-off from that other project as well. 

I don't have a saw bench, so I use the overhand ripping technique from Christopher Schwarz to cut out the pieces of Walnut that I need.

The Walnut started out as a 5/4 board and I used my frame saw to re-saw it to get two 1/2" boards and enough material to make two boxes at the same time, one to send off and one to keep for myself. I also cut out the strips needed for the frame of the lid.

Everything was then planed to size and the edges were squared.

Next step is to get out my Record #050 small plow plane.

I cut the 1/4" grooves for the plywood bottom of the box and the 5/16" grooves for the lid panel.

Once the grooves were cut I could saw the pieces to their final lengths and clean them up at the shooting board to make sure they are all the same size so that the box will glue-up square.

I marked all of the pieces for their reference face and edges and also put marks to keep them in the correct orientation and to distinguish each of the two boxes.

Next step is to cut the curves in each of the box sides.

I used a cardboard template to make sure they are all consistent and then I cut them out; first with a coping saw, then a spoke shave, and finally I used a 3/4" dowel and sand paper to refine the curved edge.

Now I can cut the miters for the lid frame parts.

First I use a combo square and marking knife to mark the 45 degree angel and carry it all the way around the part.

Then I clamp the piece down and saw close to the line.

I then attach a speed square to the fence of my shooting board with a clamp and clean up the miter right to the line.

I move on the shooting the long miters on the side panels by attaching my "donkey's ear" to the fence of the shooting board. It holds the panel at 45 degrees to the sole of the plane and I can work my way right down to the corner.

When cutting this much end grain be sure to have a really sharp blade. You should be getting nice solid end grain shavings, not dust. Re-sharpen often.

With the long miters cut, I cut the plywood bottom to fit and glued up the body of the box.

While the glue was drying I moved on to fitting the lid panel.

I want the panel to sit flush with the frame pieces. It took some very careful measurments and a lot more time than I expected. I had to go back and forth quite a few times to get the panel and the miters to line up perfectly.

Once I was happy with the fit I glued up the lid.

Because I used plywood there is no danger of wood movement so the frame pieces are glued directly to the lid panel and the miters do not need to be reinforced.

Now that the glue has dried I move on to shaping the front of the lid, the curve here gives a place for your fingers to lift the lid and also mimic the curves around the bottom of the box.

This is also the time to cut the mortices for the hinges. We will be adding the corner posts next and they will interfere with holding the box in the vice while flushing up the lid to the box

Here is a link to my technique for adding hinge mortices to a box. Just skip over the part where I cut the lid off the box.

I cut and planed the Padauk to a 3/4" x 3/4" square strip and the cut a 1/2" x 1/2" rebate so I ended up with an "L" shaped piece.

I cut off pieces to fit on the corners of the box.

I then used a block plane to cut a taper on the narrow edges.

I turned the piece in the vice to cut a taper on the wide edge too.

The corner posts are applied and the glue is allowed to dry.

These post will also act to reinforce the mitered corners of the box.

Now is a good time to finish sand the box for finishing. 

I start with 150 grit and move up to 220 and then 320. I'm very careful to sand each species with it's own paper. the Walnut can contaminate the Maple, and the Padauk will turn everything it touches orange.

The finish will be Watco Danish Oil in natural. I flood the surface every 20 minutes for one hour and then wipe off the excess and let it dry for a couple of days.

While the finish is drying I move on to the padded suede liner.

Here is a link to how I make and apply the suede leather liner.

Because I'm lining this box I did not bother to apply finish to the inside of the box.

After the finish has fully cured I apply a good quality furniture wax.

This product is called Alfie Shine. It's a resin enriched hard wax polish.

It smells and feels so much nicer than the Johnson's paste wax I used to use.

All done and ready to ship off to it's new home with Ian in Waseca, MN.

Thanks for following along.

I hope you found it as enjoyable as I did making it.

If you have any questions or comments just leave them below and I'll be happy to answer them.



Lovely box, Tim! Thanks for sharing.

Hey Timmy - Beautiful boxes very well made. Have you considered making a "lip" on the inside of the top like a humidor would have? I started doing that on all of my boxes years ago and really like the way it finishes the box. I didn't like the way boxes without the lip "slammed" shut. The lip allows the box to almost soft-shut and most of mine create a vacuum type seal. I use cedar. I usually add it after the box is completed but I have also routed out a groove (dado) in the wood before glue up (where the box and top meet) to have the lip recessed. 

Also I am curious what hinges you are using. They look like Brusso but those are not Brusso screws. Brusso hardware is great but I have been looking for a cheaper alternative. I love your leather lining I line the bottom of my boxes with leather but will consider lining the sides as well. I'll have to see what effect that has on the lift out trays. 


Hi Robert, I have in fact made boxes with a lip. Most of those did not have hinges, they we lift off lids and the lip holds the lid in place. I have seen the soft close effect on hinged lids and I like it a lot, in fact David Barron has a terrific Youtube video on constucting and fitting this type of lid.

The hinges I use most often are from Horton Brasses, High quality, reasonably priced, and they come in several different finishes. I've included a link below to the hinges I use most, $14 per pair with the brass screws included (a steel screw is not included like Brusso does). Horton calls them "clock and small box hinges"

Thanks for the link are those stop hinges? They do not say on the site. If so, I will try them out. Price is less than half of Brusso I am paying $35 per hinge set. 

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