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Rosewood Fountain Pen Box

This box was made to store a dozen fountain pens. I’ve been experimenting with new box shapes, and this is my first pass at a cavetto lid shape. The shape is similar to an 1820 English tea caddy I once saw. The lid is intended to become the focal point of the box. I also wanted to try cross-banding veneer on a box… and in a curved shape.

The box is 11 1/2” by 7 1/2” by 3 3/8” high. It holds 12 pens, with space for two bottles (different colors) of ink. The carcass is Baltic birch ply and MDF. The finish is French polish over spirit sanding sealer. I learned that Indian rosewood has very open grain!

It’s made of Indian rosewood veneer and solids. It’s intended to speak to the English boxes of the early nineteenth century. I originally planned a more elaborate decoration scheme, but abandoned it for a simple brass oval inlay and the small brass lock escutcheon. Seemed better. The cut engraving of the simple quill and ink bottle on the oval was done by hand. I hadn’t picked up a graver in over 15 years, and I’m afraid it shows. It felt a lot like knitting socks with a catcher’s mitt on each hand. The need for practice shows, I’m afraid.

The interior is divided by a center section containing two ink bottles and a small spaces for ink cartridges. I chose Pelican Edelstein ink for their elegant bottles. (If the caps were of German silver, they would be perfect.) The box is lined with navy pig suede. The two small lift-out trays and lower dividers are ebony. The tray dividers are pinned with brass pins. The vaulted lid both reduces weight and provides an interesting shape to the interior (though it increases the challenge of installing 80 pieces of lining).

The hinges are Andrew Crawford’s smartHinges. The opening edges are bordered with a fine white/black/white line. The lock is from WhiteChapel, Ltd. as is the lock escutcheon. The blank brass oval came from, also a good source for the 1/16 brass rods used for the tray pins. The navy pig suede is from Alma Leather in London.

The 3/8” high base is also of Indian rosewood and is shaped in a period profile to anchor and balance the prominence of the lid shape. It has become my favorite base shape. Keeping with the period theme, the bottom itself is veneered in the same rosewood (rather than covering with leather) and contains the inlayed maker’s mark. I try to include interesting details, no matter how the box is turned, and without unfinished views, or rough edges. I like the box to be “finished” regardless of how it’s viewed.

Parting thought: For those of us who spend so much time with our laptop, iPad, iPod, and iPhones, fountain pens are a comforting connection to an earlier time – when people would actually “write” letters with real ink. Fountain pens are a bit like a genuine chronograph, with all the moving gears and wheels, as opposed to the accurate, but sterile, electronic wrist watch. …things that can be just admired for what they are: common items from the past, but rapidly becoming luxuries.

OK, I’m a throwback. But I’m comfortable with it. :-)

Thanks for looking in. Your comments and thoughts are always welcome.


Another beauty, Roger.

-- Martin Sojka,

As always Beautiful wood and use of it.

Just plain pretty Roger. So many perfect details.


-- The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

I keep coming back to your comment- I am a throwback- Our house- It is decorated to the 30’s we designed it around our 1930’s light collection. They were built to last and have.
All your work is a throwback- designed and built to be timeless. We live in a throw away society. Please keep making non throw away stuff!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ah, Roger, how you Excel. Beautiful!

-- Might As Well Dance :

Roger, as always, exceptional work. As shipwright stated, so many perfect details. I love your work! I would love to see a detailed description, with pictures, of how you complete the inside of your boxes.

-- Steve Gaskins


The box is really sensational! We’d love to go back to those days of pen and paper.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin

It’s a perfect box Roger.

When I first looked at it I though of solid wood until I started looking at the grain flow.
Then I went he veneered it on a tight curve!

I have not seen a fountain pen since high school days…

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

Thanks everybody.

Your work is always a treat to see with all of that wonderful wood,outstanding design and of course your masterful workmanship,it just has all kinds of beautiful going on.

-- woodworking classes, custom furniture maker