Pepperwood Writing Box

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This box will hold writing supplies, paper, envelopes, and perhaps a few pens and other writing materials. After a series of curved lid, shaped front boxes, this one returned to a straightforward rectangular shape at 13 1/8 × 8 3/4 × 4 1/4”. Like most of my boxes it’s pretty traditional in appearance.

The substrate is Baltic birch ply, veneered with pepperwood burl (also known, I understand, as Oregon myrtle or California laurel.) The edging is boxwood, bordered with a black-black/white/black line. The lid is a four-way book-match and the sides are a two-way match. The exterior lift is African blackwood. I veneered the underside of the lid in pepperwood, and added an accent banding of Asian satinwood. The box bottom, and tray bottom, are veneered in cherry to fit the general color of the rest of the box.

The hinges are smartHinges from Andrew Crawford, with a matching full mortise lock. The tray, tray pedestals, and interior partitions are canarywood, as are the partitions that keep the little Jacaranda box in place. The interior surfaces are lined with chocolate brown pig suede leather. The Jacaranda box lift is turned from ebonite (a high end fountain pen material) with a betel nut inlay. The finish is French polish.

Fixing problems: There is a sidebar story to this box, in that the veneer, while beautiful, was riddled with defects. I chose to use it, despite the challenges, and saw the opportunity to test various methods of filling and repairing all the holes. There were over 200 holes and defects (yes, 200!) in the box surface! One hole was larger than a nickel. I decided if it didn’t work out, I could always strip off this veneer and redo it in something else. Actually, it turned out to be a valuable experiment. I learned a lot I didn’t know about repairing defects with the materials commonly available.

I always try to fix the defects I find (or create) so I used this opportunity to test out several different fillers and ways to use them. Also, re-creating the grain patterns trying to create virtually invisible repairs. I think most will agree that it’s possible to make repairs that will satisfy even the most demanding observer. It’s harder to actually do it. You can judge the result.

I don’t like letting mistakes or defects pass. Not that I’ve never done it (…but I don’t respect myself in the morning.) When all is said and done, we’re remembered by what we do, not what we intended to do. The box is not perfect …they never are, but perfection is always worth trying for. :-)

In any event, this is the result.

BTW: I did an eBook showing just how I made this box, and all the veneer repairs. This one(vol. 2) is available for download at

Many thanks for taking a look.



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