Purpleheart Box - Urn

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Project by TheCaver posted 01-01-2009 04:29 AM 4380 views 5 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Ok, ‘qualified’ critique is welcome…..

I made this box to store my mothers ashes….

This is probably my most ill fitting piece yet. I rushed on far too much of it and it shows….It began with a .5 degree bevel on all of the main box parts. Since I cut so much of it, I plowed ahead thinking I could plane/scrape it square before finishing…..Well, I did, but upon close inspection, its not perfect…...Pics also exhibit dustyness, I have yet to clean and final wax it….

Some highlights:

Sketchup’d the model w proper color and profile….

Bookmatched (color slightly mismatched, erg….) veneered lid panel, leveled and mirror finished with shellac/pumice/rottenstone. Beveled underside to lighten the look….

4 marquetry side panels (beech and curly walnut veneer), mirror finished as above.

Mortise and tenon panels, main carcase

Removable base, keyed corners

Sliding lower opening (the top is not meant to be opened for obvious reasons, but I have made allowances should I decide to convert to a regular box at some future date). Pinned closed once ashes are deposited.

Laminated beech strip, shaped, mitered lid to hold panel

That’s about it….this is my second time veneering, it wasn’t so bad, but I learned a lot….also learned not to miter a tray with keyed inserts which will get grooves :)

I scraped everything on this box rather than sanding and I left some marks. I didn’t see a massive difference, so I will return to sanding my projects….Excepting maybe tabletops or such….

Also, a huge design error. I fogot to account for the amount of recess in the base, which never got subtracted from the top, so the top stretchers look much wider than the lower ones….live and learn….

Hopefully Tom and the other box makers on the site will chime in here with suggestions and comments, good or bad….I’d like to learn from this….


-- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan

12 comments so far

View majeagle1's profile


1429 posts in 4617 days

#1 posted 01-01-2009 05:07 AM

Caver…........ well, from a box standpoint, as a boxmaker, I say very, very nice. I like the lines and color combination and total design. From a marquetry standpoint, I am NOT qualified, but it looks really nice to me.
I have not had the “guts” yet to try marquetry / inlay, but would like to.
What would you recommend froma reading standpoint or online information etc. to get the basics and try this out. I would really like to start including some inlay in some of my boxes.

Also, would you share your sketchup of the urn? I am trying to figure out how your are keeping the base and top attached, but still have access?

Thanks for the post

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2824 posts in 4711 days

#2 posted 01-01-2009 05:08 AM

Looks pretty good to me. It seems like you know your mistakes so I don’t think you’ll get much constructive criticism on that end. It looks like you’ll be a pretty good box maker yourself there JC. Thanks for sharing.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View 4hisglory's profile


73 posts in 4570 days

#3 posted 01-01-2009 06:33 AM

I think its very nice Caver. In all honesty I don’t see much room for criticism. The reality is no matter how much advice one gets, its the hands on repetition of doing something multiple times that hones your skills. Just keep challenging yourself with new projects and you’ll pick everything up on your own as you go. Woodworking is a diverse field of craftsmanship and it is the very many preferences and techniques that each individual develops on their own that makes it so.

-- 3rd generation craftsman ~

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5339 days

#4 posted 01-01-2009 06:35 AM

Okay, this is a joke, right?

I don’t think anyone could possible find anything to critique that you have not covered. (Unless, of course, they just don’t like cats.)

Looking at the photos, I personally cannot offer any suggestions to improve on this beautiful box.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View TheCaver's profile


288 posts in 4960 days

#5 posted 01-01-2009 07:42 AM

maj, the top is semi-permanent, and is attached with 4 very short dowels with a very small amount of glue. This way, if the box needs to be converted to a hinge top, I can just knock the top out from the bottom.

The access is via the sliding tray at the bottom. When slid into the base, you can’t see the tray. It is secured with a maple pin through a small hole. If I need access later, I can use a thin kerf saw with no set to cut the pin.

I’ve uploaded the sketchup to my collection (URL in my profile, or you can just search for Purpleheart Urn in the models area online). The joinery is mostly complete but the lower tray and top profile is only partial. In addition, I scaled the real one up and made a couple of tweaks during the build.

As for the marquetry, well, simple shapes are pretty easy, but its time consuming and a bit frustrating at times. I use the xacto knife method and the one thing I do different that everything I’ve read is I keep poking my knife into some wax as I cut the veneers. It helps quite a bit. Oh, and keeping the knife vertical!

Charlie, on the cats, well, I’m a dog guy really, but Mom loved her cats the most, so cats she got :)

Thanks for all the comments, but don’t hold back, I’m still learning this stuff, and more than willing to take some criticism to get better.


-- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan

View kine97/Theresa's profile


123 posts in 4899 days

#6 posted 01-01-2009 04:06 PM

I dont think anyone would think that urn was anything other than wonderful! Certainly your mother would be your biggest fan of it. Never-the-less, your techincal points were interesting to read, but I suspect you are your own worst critique.

Great job!

-- "My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning, and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can." -Cary Grant

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2854 posts in 4712 days

#7 posted 01-01-2009 07:01 PM

WOW! Beautiful.

-- Dennis Zongker

View BobbyC's profile


3 posts in 4553 days

#8 posted 01-01-2009 10:19 PM

Fantastic! I’m not a box maker but what I see of what you’ve done. Very nice work.

View majeagle1's profile


1429 posts in 4617 days

#9 posted 01-02-2009 03:30 AM

Thanks Caver for all the info. I also got the sketchup, tks for that to.

Great project !....... Now I have to hone up my sketchup skills!!!

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View pashley's profile


1047 posts in 4838 days

#10 posted 01-02-2009 03:54 AM

Nice work, sir.

-- Have a blessed day!

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 4891 days

#11 posted 01-15-2009 07:26 AM

Hey JC…
Sorry, this one slipped by me…
Very nice work, you should be impressed. It is very clear that you are your own worst critic. Give yourself a little slack and let the piece speak for itself. It took some time for me to realize that most of the flaws I saw in my work where only in my head. Most people never even notice the little picadillos that drive the maker crazy. You are a very accomplished woodworker and it shows. One thing that helps me to better appreciate any work I do is to write a design brief before I begin. A design brief allows you to put into words (even before drawings) what it is you intend to accomplish, a statement of purpose if you will. What is it, how will it be used, who is it for; what will I make it out of, is it for compensation or for friendship, ect…
Yea, it is a bit to go through, but it helps… at least for me.

Nice work…


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View grosa's profile


1037 posts in 3949 days

#12 posted 04-26-2013 03:03 AM

Nice job. I like your choice of colors and the fact that you used a clear instead of a stain to finish it.

-- Have a great day.

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