No Quarter #1: Shell box - Intro and pattern

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Blog entry by BritBoxmaker posted 07-22-2011 08:44 PM 7611 reads 63 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of No Quarter series Part 2: Learning to walk again »

Hello here this is my second attempt to blog shell boxes. The last one ended up in the wall art ‘Inverted World’. Well this one is a little less spectacular but is based along the same theme of curves. This time a curved pattern

but it will have stringing introduced between the colour changes as will become apparent as the blog progresses. The main woods are American Black Walnut and Sycamore with Yew stringing. I will be book-matching woods where necessary.

First step is to cut one piece of each of the main woods, 110mm square by 18mm thick.

This needs cutting into 45° triangles. An easy way is with a jig like this

marked up with an engineers square and cut on the bandsaw. The wood to be cut is placed in it and cut on the tablesaw, thus

To cut the necessary curves in this piece I used my Circle Cutting Jig
So to prepare the four triangles for cutting I first made up a sacrificial carrier plate from 3mm Hardboard (Masonite) like this

Then double sided taped the triangles together and to the carrier plate like this

The Sycamore is on top and the Walnut beneath. I clipped off the bottom corner of the wood so as not to snag the pivot pin on the Circle Jig. I then cut the largest radius

Followed by the smallest radius curve

After separating the pieces and cleaning off the double sided tape I had a stack just as before I started cutting. I flipped the pieces curved on both inside and outside thus

When you separate the top layer from the bottom one and re-arrange them you get this

When glued up each of these four triangular patterns will be re-sawn, producing the full pattern. You’ll see. Just be patient.
For the stringing I used the same method with the circle jig and bandsaw to produce curved stringing out of a piece of Yew. Placing it in the pattern like this.

I made up a simple gluing cramp jig to glue the assemblies up like so

and glued up two triangles at a time like this

The pressure of each clamp counterbalances the other here. The metal rule is used to separate the triangles as each is going to be individually re-sawn. In the next part I will do the re-saw and fully integrate the pattern.

Be seeing you

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

18 comments so far

View woodklutz's profile


221 posts in 4231 days

#1 posted 07-22-2011 09:02 PM

I really like this, your clever arrangement for set up is wonderful. I am going to try this only because it is so intriguing.
Thank you

-- honing my craft one mistake at a time.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4499 days

#2 posted 07-22-2011 09:08 PM

I appreciate you enthusiasm, woodklutz. All I ask is that you don’t post the results before I have a chance to finish this blog. You probably don’t intend to but it has happened before on a previous project with someone else.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5345 days

#3 posted 07-22-2011 09:23 PM

Nice one Martyn.
I always wondered if you cut the stringing or just bend it. I guess you cut it curved.

Looks like a cool box a coming,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4499 days

#4 posted 07-22-2011 09:26 PM

Steve, I tried bending it first but the strain placed on the glue-up could lead to later failure in the glue line. So I finally opted for a cut curve. No strain, major gain (Jayne Fonda eat your heart out).

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View degoose's profile


7287 posts in 4817 days

#5 posted 07-22-2011 09:29 PM

I just made one and was going to post but in deference to this blog I will wait…. nah just joshing you… although I might just make one but as a board not a box… I will leave the fancy boxes to you and Andy..
Deepest regards…Larry….

-- Be safe.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4499 days

#6 posted 07-22-2011 09:32 PM

Larry, you would have come up with it all on your own anyway.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Druid's profile


2205 posts in 4258 days

#7 posted 07-22-2011 10:52 PM

Looks like another winner. I’m watching with interest. Thanks for taking the time to show us the details.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View LittlePaw's profile


1572 posts in 4541 days

#8 posted 07-23-2011 01:52 AM

Martyn, I have learned more about how fancy boxes are made just following your blogs! You are a true genius and artist. This one is a little more than I care to tackle. Maybe someday ? !

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View bigike's profile


4059 posts in 4751 days

#9 posted 07-23-2011 02:02 AM

looks like a great start to anotrher saweeeeeeeeeeeeet one ofa kind box but then again all your boxes are just that one ofa kind!

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4397 days

#10 posted 07-23-2011 06:42 AM

Martyn, this is another great design. I haven’t digested all the technics you used in the “inverted world” yet.

This one seems a little easier (emphasize “seems”).


-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 4383 days

#11 posted 07-23-2011 12:37 PM

Thank you for taking the time to blog this and show everyone how you make these fascinating boxes. This one is sure a beauty! I don’t know if I will ever have the equipment to try one out, but it is still so interesting to see your process when you build one of these. It is going to be quite beautiful. I love the wood species you chose too. It looks like it will be another masterpiece! :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View kevinw's profile


199 posts in 5202 days

#12 posted 07-23-2011 02:49 PM

Not sure I picture how the pivot pin is anchored to the bandsaw table. Very cool piece. Thanks for blogging about it.

-- Kevin, Blue Springs, MO

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4499 days

#13 posted 07-23-2011 03:25 PM

Just click on this link, Kevin. Circle Cutting Jig

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View jeepturner's profile


947 posts in 4255 days

#14 posted 07-24-2011 02:30 AM

Thanks Martyn. I don’t get a lot of computer time, I do come and look at the projects everyday if I can. I always look forward to your next project/blog, but I don’t get a lot of time to type up a thank you. Your boxes are incredible.

-- Mel,

View Cozmo35's profile


2200 posts in 4499 days

#15 posted 07-25-2011 01:57 AM

Martyn, I applaud you skill and thought process. I also like your Led Zeppelin reference.

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

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