"Art Box" Tutorial #7: The Medallion

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Blog entry by Andy posted 07-01-2009 06:32 PM 29417 reads 38 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: The Lid Part 7 of "Art Box" Tutorial series Part 8: The Handle »

Updated 1/15/12

Now we need to cut a recess in the lid for the medallion to set down into.
DONT cut your medallion until you have routed out the home for it.
I typically make the medallion about 1” to 1.5” smaller on all sides than the lid depending on the box size and the piece of wood I have for the medallion.

We are now going to make a simple jig for a router to set on and run back and forth making several passes of incrementally deeper cuts. There are a several ways to do this next step and it will depend on the router bit you use and the thickness of the material you have to make your template. Here is how I made this one:

#1-The photo below shows two layers of strips of 1/2” melamine butted tight to the lid. This will hold the lid in place and make a flat base for the next layer of strips. I used scraps about 3’’ wide, running one end past the other, all the way around the lid.

#2- Next I mounted a block of wood the exact size of the medallion, centered in the top of the lid in the exact spot I want the recess to be.
You can use double stick tape, but I prefer screws so it cant get bumped out of place. The holes go away with the milling.
Now add the last layer of strips, rotating the joints so they are offset with the ones below. Butt this layer up to the center block, making sure its snug, but remember you will need to be able to remove the block.

The height will depend on the pattern bit you use. My bit was 1 1/4” PLUS THE BEARING so I ended up with a template stack of 1 1/2”. ( 3 layers of 1/2” melamine )
Thats on the extreme edge of reach for most routers to travel, so If you are buying a bit for this project just get a shorter one and make your jig accordingly.

Tip: Make it smooth on the inside or you will get bumpy sides. You need to allow the bit to ride on a perfectly smooth face down the sides of your jig, for about 3/8’’ of travel. I always do a practice run on a scrap just to be sure the quality of the cut is smooth.

Its a good idea to remove most of the material in the center using a forstner bit, that way the router bit is only cutting one edge instead of two. If you just plunge into the center of a hardwood like bubinga the bit will chatter because it is trying to cut on all its edges at the same time. Thats not so bad as long as you stay away from the edges, but it can break a 1/4 shank bit. Its hard to believe but this chattering and even chips bouncing around can cause small uneven cuts along the edge that will show up. The only way to fix it is to reposition the jig and recut the recess.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to:
Work from the center out
Work at a slow and even pace
Keep the chips cleared as you get closer to the sides
Wet the edges with a damp rag
Make multiple passes

And here is how the test block fits into the recess.

This photo shows the lid nestled into the rim of the box and the medallion setting in its recess. The medallion doesnt need to be this thick, it can be flush with the lid. It all depends on how you want to shape the top. Sometimes I will split a 3/4 board in two pieces and use it for two medallions and just shape a gentle dome on the top.

The handle comes next.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

23 comments so far

View woodpeckerbill's profile


205 posts in 4359 days

#1 posted 07-01-2009 06:39 PM

Andy, good tutorial. Great looking boxes. Nice selection of wood. Kudos.

View majeagle1's profile


1429 posts in 4581 days

#2 posted 07-01-2009 07:30 PM

I’ve been following along and this is wonderful Andy…........... you are doing a great job and providing great instructions and tips. Keep it up and thanks again.

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2659 posts in 4612 days

#3 posted 07-01-2009 07:44 PM

Super! Super good job! Ok when are you going to start your video series on PBS? ; ) Really, I do thank you for this blog, it’s great!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Andy's profile


1713 posts in 4993 days

#4 posted 07-01-2009 08:23 PM

Boy…...thank you all for the support:-)
I know I am probably giving way too many details for most of you,so I thank you for your patience.
My goal is to encourage everyone regardless of ability, to try their hand at this project.

Hopefully,my thoroughness will prevent you from making many of the same mistakes I have made.
And I am looking forward to seeing what you will come up with.I hope to learn better ways to make these boxes,to learn from your experience.

Dont hesitate to let me know of any errors in my write up,or questions you need answered.
Please do that right here in the comments section.That will minimize duplication of the same concerns,and also,everyone can read the answer.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View PKP's profile


95 posts in 4532 days

#5 posted 07-01-2009 11:38 PM

great tutorial! Thanks for takeing the time to write it. Well Done! Hope you will do more tutorials you are very good at explianing your work and with pics it really helps to see what your talking about.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4907 days

#6 posted 07-02-2009 02:40 AM

Andy, this is an excellent tutorial series. You have explained it well and documented the process thoroughly. You certainly have made it clear for me.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4074 posts in 5149 days

#7 posted 07-02-2009 03:18 PM

I’ve been following along with a deep appreciation of your dedication to sharing this with us. It’s a lot of work and a labor of love indeed. Thanks – I’ll remain a loyal reader!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View Jonathan55's profile


14 posts in 4424 days

#8 posted 07-04-2009 04:14 PM

I just found this tutorial and picked out a piece of mahogany and a piece of poplar to start with! I’ve made a lot of boxes from books and magizines but this is one of the most interesting boxes I’ve seen.


View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4662 days

#9 posted 07-04-2009 04:51 PM

Hey Andy
This is spectaular totorial well done.


View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 5024 days

#10 posted 07-04-2009 05:30 PM

Andy, this is good stuff. I wish I were in a position to build as you teach, but scheduling is not allowing that. We won’t mention that my skills might also get in the way. But I’ve marked each entry for future reference and will be putting this information to work as soon as I can. Thanks for all the detail.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Lee's profile


3 posts in 5471 days

#11 posted 07-04-2009 11:54 PM

Andy…I just finished printing off your tutorials. I think you have good presentation skills. Love your work and thanks for sharing your expertise. I don’t know who said it, but, “a candle looses nothing if it lights another candle” Hope you’ll do more.


View Andy's profile


1713 posts in 4993 days

#12 posted 07-06-2009 12:31 AM

I am glad that this series is making sense.I dont have any formal training,so I am trying to write this in the way I would want to read it.
Thanks to all of you for reading this series and taking time to make positive comments.
I am working on the next chapter,but it will be a few days before I will have it ready to post.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View Andy's profile


1713 posts in 4993 days

#13 posted 07-09-2009 11:37 PM

The link will take you to the helpful hints page.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View cwdance1's profile


1163 posts in 4344 days

#14 posted 07-16-2009 01:23 AM

Great job and keep the tutorials coming.
I need to complete my box.
Thanks for sharing

View Andy's profile


1713 posts in 4993 days

#15 posted 07-16-2009 04:31 AM

Here is the next chapter.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

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