Quilted & Roasted Maple Jewelry Box

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Project by linjay posted 09-12-2015 02:05 AM 2841 views 4 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I like projects that present new challenges. I designed this for my granddaughter Emily. When I finished designing this jewelry box I had serious reservations that it could actually be built. I have over 50 years of cabinet making experience and I learned more on this project than I have on any other single project I can remember. This was what I would call a logistics project as much as anything. You could only plan so far with this project. You had to see what you were dealing with before you could decide how to proceed to the next step and the order of the steps was critical. And all that can take a lot of time. I started this in early May and I’ve worked fairly diligently since that time and it’s finally done 4 months later.

First I have to say something about roasted maple. Originally I was going to use walnut but I found a source for roasted maple and I liked its uniform color. A nice chocolate brown. The roasting process dries the wood and makes it a bit brittle. It’s not really maple any more. As an example if you use a standard screw countersink, the screw may cause the wood to split where regular maple would be fine. Also the color can vary from front to back and there can be internal splits due to drying out. So you have to look it over carefully and decide the best way to use each piece. But I’m a big fan and I’m going to buy a lot more.

The waves (1/8” thick) were made from maple veneer clamped in a jig. I expected the waves to spring back when taken out of the jig but they held their shape well and fairly consistently. But I’d made the jig with sharper bends to allow for the spring back. As a result the waves were not to drawing but they looked fine. The drawer bottoms and chest bottom were clamped as a stack and the front edge ‘wave’ shaped by sanding to come close to matching the actual waves so they would all be identical (if not perfect). The waves were then glued to each respective bottom.

The drawers are supported on shelves which are dadoed into the sides and back. The starting point was to glue these 3 pieces to the back. The sides, initially sticking out beyond the final front face were clamped in place but not glued until the very end. The sides and ends are mitered using a 45 degree router bit for a very good fit. The chest bottom and top 2 shelves have cantilevered spring stops to prevent the drawers from coming out completely but allowing them to be removed if desired. The drawer bottoms are the deepest part of the drawer (and start extra deep) so that the drawer bottom back edge touches the back. This enables accurately qualifying each wave so they line up perfectly. Final fit up of the drawers involved judicial planing of the back edge to bring all the waves in line. One difficulty I had after the final quilted maple facing was added was one drawer face tipped back too much. If I had tried to sand the drawer face above to match I would have gone thru the quilted maple and it would have been a mess. Necessity—the mother of invention. I figured white wood glue was a lot like plastic so I tried heating the glue joint with a heat gun and applied pressure to the top edge of the offending wave. I let it cool and it was now in the correct position. This trick came in handy several times.

Drawers this wide would typically not close evenly—one side would go in first and bind. To avoid this the drawer bottoms have a groove down the center and a mating rail glued to the shelves and bottom. Careful placement of the rail helped control side clearances. I made the drawer pulls on a small metal lathe from a 1/2” bronze bolt. I couldn’t find anything simple that I really liked. They are 7/16” OD. 1/2” was too big and 3/8” was too small.

Maintaining even clearances between drawers and at the sides took a lot of time. My wife came down to my shop several days in a row and it looked like nothing had changed. Everything was still all clamped up. Basically the clearances and fits had to be finalized before the sides were cut to match the wave front face and then glued in place. Picture 5 shows this final glue up. Picture 6 shows the extra long sides required while establishing drawer fit and final wave position. Picture 6 also shows the magnets embedded in the back to provide positive drawer closure. You may note that the inside of the drawer back isn’t pretty. I worked for a cabinet maker for a summer when I was 18 and we were not allowed to spend time on anything that didn’t show. The drawer backs have #10 flat head machine screws screwed into the backs. The screw heads can be adjusted so they come close to the magnets but do not touch. This was the 1st time I had tried this and I was very pleased with the result. The drawers close with a quiet and pleasing ‘thunk’. I would certainly recommend this for small drawers like this.
The top, with multi wavy edges, took me 4 days to make. This included mounting the hidden hinges.

I went whole hog on the finishing going to a full French Polish. I did substitute 1500 wet/dry paper for the pumice stone and then finished with rotten stone. On my previous jewelry box ( I used what I call my pseudo French Polish and that takes a whole lot less time and is good for most projects.

My wife painstakingly glued in all the blue velvet and it absolutely finished this project beautifully.

I doubt I will ever make another one of these—but I won’t say never.

-- It's easy when you know how - but that's the hard part. Ontario, Canada

12 comments so far

View waho6o9's profile


9134 posts in 3913 days

#1 posted 09-12-2015 02:12 AM

Sure is an elegant jewelry box, congrats!

View Druid's profile


2205 posts in 4131 days

#2 posted 09-12-2015 04:22 AM

Beautiful work. Well done.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View drewpy's profile


1082 posts in 2693 days

#3 posted 09-12-2015 04:39 AM

Very nice box. I have never heard of roasted maple. I will have to check it out.

-- Drew -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View tomd's profile


2225 posts in 5106 days

#4 posted 09-12-2015 04:44 AM

Ultra nice box, great workmanship. Good design and banding looks terrific.

-- Tom D

View turnkey47's profile


322 posts in 4027 days

#5 posted 09-12-2015 10:28 AM

that is a beauty!!!

View horky's profile


335 posts in 4266 days

#6 posted 09-12-2015 12:21 PM

Linjay, that is one beautiful piece of work. Thanks for sharing. I know it will be loved and cherished.

View SteveGaskins's profile


762 posts in 3923 days

#7 posted 09-12-2015 02:08 PM

Extremely nice build. Love that you made it for your granddaughter. They have a way of getting the very best out of us.

-- Steve, South Carolina,

View toddbeaulieu's profile


865 posts in 4340 days

#8 posted 09-12-2015 10:05 PM

That’s awesome and I really appreciate the amount of detail you went into here. That can help a lot of people, like myself.

View twoblacklabs's profile


263 posts in 4027 days

#9 posted 09-12-2015 11:14 PM

Very nice!

-- If You Haven't Got the Time to Do It Right, When Will You Find the Time to Do It Over?

View Ivan's profile


17138 posts in 4203 days

#10 posted 09-13-2015 11:31 AM

Incredibly precise and nice looking curved design. Wood colours used are realy great.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Roger's profile


21 posts in 4481 days

#11 posted 09-13-2015 11:50 AM

WOW!!!! That’s all I can say.

-- Do like you always do,,,,,Get what you always get!!

View Hammerthumb's profile


3140 posts in 3311 days

#12 posted 09-15-2015 09:46 PM

Stunning work. Congratulations.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

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