Fun-to-Build Curved-Lid Box

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Project by Brad posted 07-31-2015 08:01 PM 2269 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Woodworking shows mesmerize me. But now that Norm has retired, I only have the Woodsmith Shop to entertain me. One show featured a curved lid box. The project’s elegant lines, use of dyes and convex lid motivated me to paw through my wood pile to select contrasting species for two boxes.

Box #1: Birds-eye maple (front, back, bottom and lid) with walnut (sides)
Box #2: Birds-eye maple (front, back and lid) with mahogany (sides) and a felt-lined plywood bottom. (This became a Christmas gift to a dear friend.)

The birds-eye maple board I chose was highly figured.

I’d never worked birds-eye maple before and experienced horrid tearout. After soliciting advice from fellow lumberjocks I put a 10 degree back bevel on the iron of a spare #4 and chamfered the iron edges before planing. That made a significant difference.

The plans call for dying the maple surfaces. But after pricing the dye ($40 for two to be mixed) I decided it was much more than I wanted to shell out for this project. That’s why I went with $2.50 brass-plated hinges from the big-box store versus $37.00 specialty hinges. The cheapo hinges don’t have a built-in stop so I added one to the lid. It’s 1” wide x 7/8” long and mortised into lid.

For the bottom, I decided to leave maple-bottom box #1 bare.

For box #2, I revised the design to take a plywood bottom and to felt that over. Like hell if I was going to cover over a beautifully-figured birds-eye maple bottom with cheap felt.

That required modifying the placement of the dowels by eliminating the ones for the bottom and adding one (for a total of two) to each of the sides.

I really like the slanted sides. I think they would look cool with carved scrolling on the front/back edges, but I have no carving skills whatsoever. The original plans call for ebonizing them but I selected dark, contrasting, non-ebonized woods instead. I just can’t bring myself to ebonize birds-eye maple.

Box #1 has walnut sides.

Box #2 is configured with mahogany sides.

To add a decorative element to Box #2, I added a mahogany inlay strip.

And here are the finished boxes in review.

The project was so much fun that now I’m toying with the idea of building one more—complete with dyes and specialty hinges. I figure the cost of the dye is simply the price of learning how to work with it.


© 2015, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

8 comments so far

View jeffswildwood's profile


4946 posts in 3224 days

#1 posted 07-31-2015 08:13 PM

What beautiful boxes. That birds eye maple has to be the most beautiful wood ever. Goes great with dark wood. Thanks for posting and great job!

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View Woodknack's profile


13584 posts in 3627 days

#2 posted 07-31-2015 08:41 PM


-- Rick M,

View oldnovice's profile


7753 posts in 4615 days

#3 posted 07-31-2015 10:33 PM

Have to agree with those above, very good looking project.

I saw that episode of the Woodsmith Shop and had planned to build one but other projects got in the way.

-- "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4395 days

#4 posted 07-31-2015 11:59 PM

Those turned out very well! I love that birdseye maple!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View MyHogany's profile


88 posts in 2684 days

#5 posted 08-01-2015 12:54 AM

Beautiful work I’ve made a few from the same plans, though I love your solution to the lid support. I achieved great results using TransTint dyes.

You can see one here:

I had the same issues with tearout. I found using very small (almost thumb sized) planes made for violin making with almost a 60 degree angle on the plane iron and a slight bevel on the edge, I got clean lines on the birds-eye maple. I will admit to have bought the cheap planes advertised on Ebay and manufactured in China. I didn’t even change the angle of the edge, I just cleaned it up. I agree with your opinion on ebonizing maple, that’s why I used poplar for the end pieces and india ink for the dye.

View SenecaWoodArt's profile


485 posts in 2867 days

#6 posted 08-01-2015 03:10 AM

Excellent choice of contrasting wood. Great job of innovation with the lid stop and etc. How can you beat Birdseye maple?

-- Bob

View mark76wa's profile


97 posts in 4643 days

#7 posted 08-02-2015 07:49 PM

I made this box a while ago. I like the stop you added. Looks great.

View Brad's profile


1147 posts in 3987 days

#8 posted 08-02-2015 10:43 PM

Mark 76…wow. That tint really makes the quilted maple pop.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

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