Not Just Any Box #1: Preparing the Way

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Blog entry by YorkshireStewart posted 01-16-2008 11:26 PM 2520 reads 7 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Not Just Any Box series Part 2: It all hinges on these.. »

I’d been living with this board of burr / burl or pippy oak in the workshop for five or six years and must have picked it up and put it back down at least a hundred times (approx!).



I have done quite a few boxes in the past with lids something like this:

but I always intended that this piece would be used in a different way, and for something a little bit special. Though I’ve made many boxes, I have never thought of doing one for me, so this challenge presents an opportunity. The idea is that it will house one or two of my little collections, or ‘accumulations’. I have in mind my vintage watches, bits of ‘man-jewellery’, cigarette / trade cards and various other priceless (?) boy-clutter.

Here are the box components being dimensioned and glued up. Again oak, but these are in brown oak and show in places the medullary rays typical of quarter sawing.


The third ‘flavour’ of oak, in fact my last scraps until I source some more, is bog oak. Although often fraught with problem cracks and defects, it does provide an interesting contrast.


My design has led me to a conflict of grain direction here, but I’ve glued and screwed the bog oak strips to the burr oak pieces using slotted screw holes to allow for movement between the two.


And, finally for this part of the blog, here is the box in its cramps. I chose to joint the corners using the mitre lock joint cutter in the router table, although since I last used it, I’d forgotten how to set the thing up & had to resort to trial and error!

A long way to go yet…


The finished box is here


-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

14 comments so far

View rpmurphy509's profile


288 posts in 4702 days

#1 posted 01-16-2008 11:31 PM

Very sweet slab of oak you’ve got there.
Am I correct in understanding this burl
will be for the top/lid only?

-- Still learning everything

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 4748 days

#2 posted 01-16-2008 11:35 PM

Yes, that’s the plan, RPM

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4835 days

#3 posted 01-16-2008 11:47 PM

Looking good. Nice to see that you are braving the cold.

I wish some of that bog oak were available here. Looks very interesting.

I’ve never heard the term Pippy. Is that the type of oak or it’s character?

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 4748 days

#4 posted 01-17-2008 12:00 AM

Gary, I got quite warm out there today, working away with the scraper!

The term pippy seems to refer to the ‘lighter’ burl pattern. Also can be called cat’s paw when it’s even less of a feature. I don’t think it will be easy to find any similar to replace that board. I haven’t seen any for a long time. I’ve just found some bog oak on eBay however. A lot of it comes from Ireland originally.

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 5021 days

#5 posted 01-17-2008 12:05 AM

It takes a bit of work, but you can get bog oak here from overseas… if you know where to look and want to pay the price.

Cuff Links
Sgian Dubh Box #1
Sgian Dubh Box #2

The client for the second box first asked me to make the box completely out of bog oak. I told her it might be possible, but she should add a zero to the end of the price I bid her. She thought about it and agreed that a white oak box with bog oak accents was just fine.

-- Ethan,

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4722 days

#6 posted 01-17-2008 12:21 AM

Stewart, you amaze me with your projects. This one is no exception.

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 4727 days

#7 posted 01-17-2008 12:40 AM

i shall refer to you in the future as sir stewart of yorkshire !

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5147 days

#8 posted 01-17-2008 01:18 AM

That’s a unique looking piece of burly wood.

It’s amazing what mother nature can create,

but I’ll bet we’ll be seeing some amazing improvements to it before long.

Nice project.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 5021 days

#9 posted 01-17-2008 01:32 AM

By the way, I love the look of that brown oak. Have you ever had a chance to compare it to white oak or red oak? Does it work any differently? It looks like the grain is a bit less pronounced.

I’d like to try and get my hands on some of that at some point in time…

-- Ethan,

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4669 days

#10 posted 01-17-2008 02:42 AM

Very interesting project. It never ceases to amaze me at what is being produced by other woodworkers. I would never have envisioned a box hidden inside that burl. (Before I joined this group the burr oak pictured above would have actually looked a lot like- gasp- firewood). I applaud your and other members imaginative woodworking efforts. Being part of this group has really opened up a lot of new ideas and concepts in the short time that I have been here.

I can’t wait to see the completed project.

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

View Karson's profile


35225 posts in 5248 days

#11 posted 01-17-2008 02:50 AM

Stewart Great job on the box. Nice picture trail.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 4722 days

#12 posted 01-17-2008 06:35 PM


Don’t you just love burr oak? I was able to get my hands on about 200 bd ft of the largest burr oak tree you can ever imagine. Even the branches were great. But yours is pretty special!!!

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 4748 days

#13 posted 01-17-2008 11:31 PM

Thanks to all for your interest and comments.

Ethan – Brown oak comes from oak trees in which the timber in the trunk of the tree is coloured by the Beefsteak fungus. It apparently doesn’t degrade the wood in any way except to turn the heartwood a rich deep brown colour. I haven’t detected any difference in its working.

Al Navas – lucky man!

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 5021 days

#14 posted 01-18-2008 05:33 AM

Yeah, I actually read about that today when I was, err, well, looking for a supplier for brown oak here in the states. :)

Doesn’t work any differently because it’s really just white oak with your aforementioned fungus. But one of the places I found info about it said it only happens to about one in every 500 trees. I don’t know if it is that or the fact that I can’t easily get it which makes me want to use some in a project… probably a little of both.

(Actually, someone I usually buy bog oak from has some brown oak for sale, but it’s a fairly sizable bundle of it and shipping would absolutely kill me, so… I’ll just take some of my reclaimed white oak and fume it. Or maybe I’ll rub a beefsteak on it and see what that does.)

-- Ethan,

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