Shoji Screen Jewelry Box - More pictures added

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Project by tpastore posted 02-01-2009 07:18 PM 20922 views 145 times favorited 51 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my latest project. It is an Asian themed jewelry box that my wife and I designed together. It is made of meranti for the case, birdseye maple for the door, drawers, and back, and bloodwood as accents in the segmented turning of the necklace carosel, drawer handles, and on the earring tree.

Front Door – The front door is intended to look like a Shoji screen. The meranti frame is constructed using loose tenons. The birdseye maple panels are beveled on the back by using a raised panel bit and dadoed on the front to receive the thin slats for the shoji screen. Every one of the 34 pieces that make up the screen needed to be sanded to length to make it fit properly. Rare earth magnets are used in the door and the case to keep the door closed. They are hidden under a veneer made by using a plug cutter in the same meranti used on the door. They are invisible in the pictures and are only seen when pointed out.

Wood Hinges – This is my second project that uses wood hinges. They really add an interesting element to the project. My wife did not want to see the hinges at all when the door was closed. I would have used the barrel hinges but the door was too thin. (next time) Instead I used tiny pieces of meranti that match the case and pinned them with a brass rod. The hole for the rod was filled with a piece of meranti turned on the lathe so it was invisble too. There is a #4-40 brass screw that passes through the back of the wood hinge block into the door to give the connection strength.

Necklace Carosel – The initial design of the box had a slide out panel with hooks on both sides for the necklaces. Because the panel was tall and narrow I was concerned about how well it would slide out since it would easily bind up as it slid out (aspect raitio issue) So I decided to have something hanging. I had just bought my lathe so I figured why not turn the carosel on the lathe. The segmented section was something I wanted to try too. The finial on the top/bottom are made of bloodwood and have a wonderful chatoyance. The carosel was in tight quarters so I wanted to have it slide out. A single sliding dovetail probably would have been fine but I love the way the double sliding dovetail looks on the Incra wood block at my local Rockler so I figured I would give that a try. I used my benchtop milling machine to make these with the dovetail bit. There are little stops on the side of the pieces so it does not pull out and actually has a two stage motion like a full extension drawer slide would. A small #4-40 flat head brass machine screw connects the carosel to the slide.

Drawers – The drawers are made of maple with a birdseye maple veneer on the front. The veneer is a single piece that spans all the drawers. The drawers use half blind dovetails. The handles were made by using a forstener bit to cut the recesses, turning a stack of BE veneer on the lathe, glueing a veneer “disk” to the bottom of the flat hole, and then making the bloodwood handles. The drawer bottoms are made of meranti. Some of the drawers have ring bars from Rockler, some are empty and some are getting removable dividers. The drawers have little magnets in the back to keep the front face of the drawers all on the same plane. Small meranti runners are morticed into the case and slots are milled in the sides of the drawers. I have a new appreciation for how much work goes into making drawers. 6 small drawers can consume the same amount of time as the rest of the project.

Earring tree – This was the last thing I made on the box. I had a problem that I needed to fix. I had cut the sliding dovetail for the bottom part of the neclace panel in the bottom of the case but when I changed the design to a hanging carosel I didnt have anthing to fill the sliding dovetail hole. I played with idea of a little mirror that would slide out and actually built one but it wasnt really practical. The earring tree was the next idea. This design is intended to look like the roof of a pagota. The sliding base is made of BE maple, the “fin” is made of meranti and the tree limbs are made of bloodwood. There is a tiny (1/8” x 1/8” x 3/16”) pull embedded in the fin made of ebony that has a pyramid shape on either side of the fin.

Back – The back of the case was made of BE maple that was resawn, joined, and cut with the raised panel bit to give it some detail. On the back of the box you can see the loose tenons used to joint the case. The entire case was intended to be about 1.5” deeper and these tenons would not be visible but I had to shorten the case when I made the mistake of not flipping the case sides as I was using the template bit to shape them. As I was climbing out of the arch it grabbed a piece of the wood and sheared it off. I was not pleased with myself but just changed the design and moved on.

Case – My wife and I both liked the arched design of the legs in Todd Clippinger's Sofa table. We gave the door an arched top too but keep the bottom flat. If you have seen my Fibonacci box, you know that I like to use ratios and proportions that are pleasing to the eye. This project was no different. Many of the dimensions in this box use the same principles. This project included another ratio though for the arches. It uses something called the Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR). The WHR is the circumference of the Waist divided by the circumference of the hip of a person. There are studies that show that a WHR of .7 in women and .9 in men correlate with health, fertility, disease resistance, etc. Studies also show that when shown a sample of body profiles, people gravitate to these “healthier” (grain of salt) profiles and tend to find them attractive. A google search on the subject will give more information. Ironically, Todd even calls the curves “sweet sexy curves”

Finish – The finish is 4 coats of Maloof oil/poly mix, 2 coats of oil/wax mix, and 3 applications of briwax. Most parts were finished before assembly.

Signature – I use a 3/4” forster bit on the bottom to recess a 2009 penny and use a Sharpie to sign. Now I just need to find a 2009 penny.

Photography – Shot at home using a Flotone graduated background (B&H photo), some compact flourescent bulbs from HD, a tripod and my D70s. The key as always with this kind of photo is to make sure you get the white balance correct. You can read more about this on my blog.

I tried many new things, learned a lot, and had a good time on this challenging project.

Thanks for looking and reading

Tim Pastore

EDIT: I didnt really explain how I used the WHR – The WHR is the ratio of change between the thinnest part of a person (waist) and their widest (shoulders and hips). So, for the box, if you take the dimension measured across the front half way up (the waist) and divide it by the dimension across the front of the box at the top or bottom (hips and shoulders) you would get .7. Hope that makes more sense.

EDIT: See the additional pictures I posted below.

51 comments so far

View savannah505's profile


1849 posts in 4365 days

#1 posted 02-01-2009 07:26 PM

Very nicely done. Beautiful wood and craftsmanship, this should be treasured for many lifetimes.

-- Dan Wiggins

View woodnut's profile


393 posts in 4831 days

#2 posted 02-01-2009 07:30 PM

Stunning work, the style really appeals to me. Great detail on the piece and finish. Great job.

-- F.Little

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4061 posts in 4842 days

#3 posted 02-01-2009 07:31 PM

Tim, this is first rate in every way. Unique, inventively constructed with superb craftsmanship and a beautiful finish.
And then there is the post itself, with great and detailed photography and all the details. This is a “Share the Knowledge, Share the Love” work on your part. Instantly into favorites for this piece. Thank you for your hard work.

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

View coolwood973's profile


5 posts in 4180 days

#4 posted 02-01-2009 07:31 PM

Looks like Nippon design. Too beautiful for me to say anything….

-- today is yesterday of tomorrow...Regards,coolwood973

View BarryW's profile


1015 posts in 4685 days

#5 posted 02-01-2009 07:34 PM

clearly you have learned a thing or two over the years…beautiful work…extreme detail…

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2824 posts in 4369 days

#6 posted 02-01-2009 07:41 PM

wow this is beautiful. I like everything about this piece. Very nicely done.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View Doug S.'s profile

Doug S.

295 posts in 4487 days

#7 posted 02-01-2009 07:45 PM

2 Thums Up. I love it.

-- Use the fence Luke

View Devin's profile


166 posts in 4307 days

#8 posted 02-01-2009 08:14 PM

Absolutely stunning, the attention to detail and the craftsmanship are amazing.

-- If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

View Randy Price's profile

Randy Price

242 posts in 4279 days

#9 posted 02-01-2009 08:30 PM

Absolutely beautiful detail work. I like the oriental feel. I am working on a project design similar to the shoji screen front and was considering using dados to hold the thin strips of wood – I am glad to see this technique worked well for you. Thanks for sharing your work.


View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4878 days

#10 posted 02-01-2009 08:36 PM

That is a fantastic piece. The craftsmanship is amazing. Many may not realize how difficult small work is – it is very demanding.

I think your choice of materials is great. You went for playing off of the contrast but you did it in a well balanced manner and did not go overboard.

On a personal note I am honored that you used some of my architectural elements as inspiration, but it was You that took control and interpreted the elements for use in this project. This project demonstrates a good sense of balance and design.

Something else that is very important here is that you were able to envision the potential of a design element for use in your own unique project. This is an important skill as you will be able to draw on architectural details or inspiration from art and nature and translate them into your projects. This is something that many find difficult.

Wonderful detail, design, and craftsmanship. Very well done.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View TedM's profile


2002 posts in 4511 days

#11 posted 02-01-2009 08:36 PM

Simply beautiful! Er’, well, obviously not that simply! Definaitely beautiful!

-- I'm a wood magician... I can turn fine lumber into firewood before your very eyes! - Please visit and sign up for my project updates!

View CharlieM1958's profile


16286 posts in 4997 days

#12 posted 02-01-2009 08:40 PM

Astounding detail. You are certainly a craftsman of great skill and patience. You’ve incorporated some great design features that I’ve never seen on any other jewelry boxes posted here.

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

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4878 days

#13 posted 02-01-2009 08:43 PM

I have to confess, I have books on the golden ratio but have never heard of the waist-to-hip ratio. I work on the design until it “feels” right. I will have to read up on this one.

I was just looking at the pictures again thinking how well you hit the right note for proportions on the grill in the doors. I remember how I worked through that for my chandeliers and entertainment center. You definitely hit it spot on.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View obi999's profile


213 posts in 4186 days

#14 posted 02-01-2009 09:42 PM

Very very nice job, i like it!

-- *** the german lumberjock ***

View tinnman65's profile


1405 posts in 4193 days

#15 posted 02-01-2009 09:44 PM

Your attention to detail is superb. Very inspiring peice

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

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