Fun-to-Build Curved-Lid Box


Woodworking shows mesmerize me. But now that Norm has retired, I only have the Woodsmith Shop to entertain me. One show featured a curved lid box. The project’s elegant lines, use of dyes and convex lid motivated me to paw through my wood pile to select contrasting species for two boxes.

Box #1: Birds-eye maple (front, back, bottom and lid) with walnut (sides)
Box #2: Birds-eye maple (front, back and lid) with mahogany (sides) and a felt-lined plywood bottom. (This became a Christmas gift to a dear friend.)

The birds-eye maple board I chose was highly figured.

P07-Curved Lid Box-Lid Grain-Detail

I’d never worked birds-eye maple before and experienced horrid tearout. After soliciting advice from fellow lumberjocks I put a 10 degree back bevel on the iron of a spare #4 and chamfered the iron edges before planing. That made a significant difference.

The plans call for dying the maple surfaces. But after pricing the dye ($40 for two to be mixed) I decided it was much more than I wanted to shell out for this project. That’s why I went with $2.50 brass-plated hinges from the big-box store versus $37.00 specialty hinges. The cheapo hinges don’t have a built-in stop so I added one to the lid. It’s 1” wide x 7/8” long and mortised into lid.

P06-Curved Lid Box-Lid Stop-Detail

For the bottom, I decided to leave maple-bottom box #1 bare.

P05-Curved Lid Box-Inside view-closeup

For box #2, I revised the design to take a plywood bottom and to felt that over. Like hell if I was going to cover over a beautifully-figured birds-eye maple bottom with cheap felt.

P11-Curved Lid Box-Felt Liner-Detail

That required modifying the placement of the dowels by eliminating the ones for the bottom and adding one (for a total of two) to each of the sides.

I really like the slanted sides. I think they would look cool with carved scrolling on the front/back edges, but I have no carving skills whatsoever. The original plans call for ebonizing them but I selected dark, contrasting, non-ebonized woods instead. I just can’t bring myself to ebonize birds-eye maple.

Box #1 has walnut sides.

P02-Curved Lid Box-Back side

Box #2 is configured with mahogany sides.

P09-Curved Lid Box-Mahogany-Side-View-Detail

To add a decorative element to Box #2, I added a mahogany inlay strip.

P10-Curved Lid Box-Mahogany-Lid-View-Detail

And here are the finished boxes in review.

P01-Full view-Front P03-Curved Lid Box-Top view P04-Curved Lid Box-Inside view P05-Curved Lid Box-Inside view-closeup P08-Curved Lid Box-Mahogany-Top 3-quarter View

The project was so much fun that now I’m toying with the idea of building one more—complete with dyes and specialty hinges. I figure the cost of the dye is simply the price of learning how to work with it.

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© 2015, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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About The Write Biz

By day, I'm a mild-mannered copywriter who harnesses frontal-lobe creativity (right brain) to help B2B marketers generate leads and sales. By night I pick up hand tools to create wooden masterpieces...and give my black lab Bella the "red dot" laser to chase after.
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