Maple Burl Jewelry Box
I made this box a while back, but it remains a favorite. It is maple burl and was my third shaped front box. While the shape is not directly taken from any existing piece I know of, it’s intended to speak generally, to the 1800 – 1830 period. The front shape is admittedly more complex to build and involves many small pieces at converging angles caused by the curved lid meeting the shaped front. A straight sided, rectangular box now seems pretty straightforward. (Though I still enjoy making them as well.)
Some details: The box is 10 1/8” wide by 7 1/4” deep by 4 3/4” high. The substrate is Baltic birch ply and MDF, veneered with a very special “coral heart maple burl” from B&B Rare Woods, and now long gone. (Interestingly, this veneer was quite pink when raw, but has toned off to more golden with the added French polish.) I still have enough of this for another box or so, and plan to find just the right project for it.
The coloring in this piece is unlike any maple I’ve seen. I let the lid and front flow over the top edge from the same book-matched piece of veneer. The sides and back are matched up with the lid and front so the pattern flows around, and into the lid.
The edging is boxwood, outlined by a fine inlay line of black/black/pearwood/black. The inner edge of the lid and base are accented with a black/maple/black line that runs into the side rail quadrant hinges. The full mortise lock and brass escutcheon from WhiteChapel have been polished to match the hinges. This box has side rail quadrant hinges, installed prior to receiving my first shipment of Andrew Crawford’s great SmartHInges (which I’ve used almost exclusively ever since).
The interior is lined with claret pig suede leather. I like unexpected details in the interior, so this one contains a single removable tray, with shaped dividers and two separate interior boxes. The tray is Jacaranda rosewood, while the two small boxes are veneered with pippy English yew outside and lined inside with very plain white maple. Lids are solid, of figured claro walnut, bookmatched to mirror each other. The turned oosik (fossilized walrus ivory) lifts are inlayed with a small bit of mother of pearl. There is also a small 5/8” high “secret document compartment” inside a false bottom. Pressing firmly on one end lifts the panel.
The base of the main box is edged with solid maple (to edge the ply and MDF) and the bottom is veneered in curly maple, but I later covered it with leather, as the curly maple seemed out of place. I like the idea that you can turn a fine box any way you want, including upside down, and every aspect is carefully finished, and hopefully delights the eye.
The front is, not surprisingly, the most challenging part, involving many separate veneering operations, inlayed lines, and pieces of boxwood edging. The downward slope of the lid creates odd angles, so nearly all the front lines and pieces needed to be fitted with a scalpel and chisel. A necessity, but then this box is all about small details, anyway.
I regret that I had not yet thought of doing the “eBooks” on my projects when made this box. It would have been a good one. My 89 year old mother in law now has this box proudly displayed in her home. It was made for her, but I confess, it was a bit hard to part with. :-)
Thanks for looking in. I encourage others to give some of these veneered boxes a go. It’s not as hard as it looks!