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.
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.
For the bottom, I decided to leave maple-bottom box #1 bare.
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.
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.
Box #2 is configured with mahogany sides.
To add a decorative element to Box #2, I added a mahogany inlay strip.
And here are the finished boxes in review.
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.
© 2015, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.