Simple Mitered Box: My First Exotic and My First Veneer

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Project by kresso posted 12-18-2015 07:33 PM 1348 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My boss is retiring and is a wood turner so I decided to make him this box and get him a certificate to a local wood store with a bunch of turning blanks and stuff. He gave me my first job out of college at the place of my dreams and I was really grateful to him. The sides of the box are Honduran rosewood and the top is maple burl veneer. I chose the rosewood because I had lived in Honduras for a while and wanted it to represent me relocating to work at my current employment. I also wanted to do the veneer since I had never done that before to represent him taking a chance on me and hiring me for an area that I had no experience in but really wanting to do.

I have only been woodworking for a little bit with this my 3rd “fine” woodworking project (one of which was a similar style box). People are pretty familiar with putting the box together and then cutting off the top, which is what I did here. I made a 45 degree cross cut sled which made the sides a lot easier to use. The glue up was done using tape on the outsides of the joints and then wrapped together. putting the tops and bottoms inset. After it dried I cut the top off so all the grain would match.

For the veneer I put it on some 5mm laun plywood from the home center which was a bad idea. When I first cut it it was laying flat. Since it was so small and area I decided to use normal wood glue (and that is all I had). I glued up the panels and put some really heavy weights on them. The veneer seems to have held on nicely but I didn’t make the boxes right away and after a couple of days they were super potato chiped. I was able to bend them into place during the glue up but when I cut the top off it warped somewhat as well. I did a bunch of sanding to flatten where the lid and body meet (i need to get a big powered sanding disk instead of a sheet of sandpaper on a granite tile). The veneer was pretty poorly sliced and while I was sanding it to get rid of the marks left on it i sanded through some of it. I cut down the panel to remove that and didn’t sand much more so there are some milling marks. Probably shouldn’t have used burl for my first veneer, cause it was a pain. I put two strips of the rosewood inside the box to keep the lid in place.

For the finish I used Watco natural danish oil. It looked great and I put on three coats. Then I noticed that it seemed to be weeping finish from some of the pores. I looked online and read you shouldn’t use oil on rosewood. Woops. It seemed like after time it would stop but I didn’t have much time before my boss left so I decided to wax the whole box which would hopefully push the finish out of the pores. I did two coats of wax but the next day there was still some weeping. Then I turned on a space heater by the box to 90 deg and buffed the box out every half an hour for about 5 hours. And then let it sit overnight by the heater. The next day I didn’t see any weeping at all. It still had an odor (Some danish oil seeped around the lid into the inside and I don’t think it cured or will very well. I should have prefinished the panels) but I had to hand it off.

I was going to put some splines in the miters, but the panel seemed plenty busy enough that I decided not to. Hopefully since it is just a decorative box, the extra strength loss won’t matter.

Any critique would be appreciated. (What do you think of wood types? Should I have used splines? Tips on this type of construction?)


P.S. I ended up buying like 15 bf of rosewood because they said if I take it all it could get it at 75% off. What is a good finish that give a nice close to the wood feel, but i can use on the rosewood?

-- -Matthew Kress

8 comments so far

View volpeveneers's profile


21 posts in 3957 days

#1 posted 12-18-2015 09:46 PM

Hello Matthew, I think your box looks fine. I’m sure your boss will be happy to receive it from you.
I like your choice of woods as well. The busy pattern of of the burl figure is the visual interest that is opposed to the straight grained Rosewood. Maple burl can be pain to work with if it is full of small voids. It’s difficult to deal with the transfer of adhesive from the back to the face side. A ‘seal’ coat of shellac prior bonding can greatly reduce the transfer of adhesive to the face side.

Were you hand sanding the veneer when you sanded thru?

I have had a few panels curl after the veneer was applied. I found that if you veneer both sides (balance veneer) and keep the panel vertical with air circulation the curl is small or gone. Keeping the panel flat the moisture is higher on one side.

I have made a few hundred similar boxes from plywood. I veneer both sides and make the box with butt joints using glue and wire nails. I sever the box lid off on the table saw and cover the exposed plywood edge with veneer. The butt joints are not a strong joint but like you said it just a decorative box. (my rejects are holding up well after storing nails and dry wall screws)

I finish my boxes with Danish oil then sand with a new paper towel to knock of the dust nibs. I spray two coats of satin lacquer. I used to use gloss lacquer but it was so labor intensive to get it flawless.

If you want to know about kerf cut hinges I can bore you with the details.

-- "Trees are evil they must be punished." R. Underhill

View kresso's profile


23 posts in 3140 days

#2 posted 12-18-2015 10:13 PM

Thanks for the reply. I had 220 grit on a random orbital when went through. I started hand standing but it was taking forever to get it all smooth. I probably should have stuck with that. Using shellac makes a ton of sense to help keep the adhesive at bay. I will do that as well. Thanks so much for the tips. I think it is fun to use “expensive wood” veneer.

I have never heard of kerf cut hinges before. I will have to check those out.

-- -Matthew Kress

View volpeveneers's profile


21 posts in 3957 days

#3 posted 12-19-2015 12:48 AM

Here is the link to the maker of the hinges.

Check out my project with the striped woods. There you will a close up one installed. Their installed similar to a biscuit cutter biscuit but with a much thinner blade. What makes them so nice to use is the barrel of the hinge is out side the box so you don’t have to undercut the lid for clearance.

When your in the market for more burl veneer check out seller Thinwoodandoldtools on eBay. That happens to be me. I’m not trolling for new business I just like to see projects made with veneer. Check out Lumberjock Rogerbean, very impressive veneered boxes.

-- "Trees are evil they must be punished." R. Underhill

View Mean_Dean's profile


6984 posts in 3631 days

#4 posted 12-19-2015 01:08 AM

Well despite all the difficulty you had, the box turned out wonderfully! And what a wonderful gesture for your boss!

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

View wb8nbs's profile


164 posts in 3176 days

#5 posted 12-19-2015 01:37 AM

I do a lot of Watco oil. It will almost always bleed from open pored wood so put on a saturation first coat, wipe it down every few hours for a couple of days. One thing I learned is always apply the oil during the warmest part of the day. Then as the ambient temp goes down, the air inside the pores will contract instead of expanding and you get a 24 hour period with very little bleeding. Putting the piece in front of a heater will only make it bleed more due to the air expanding in pores. I do boxes similar in size to yours and apply the first oil coat with 220 or 320 wet/dry sandpaper. It makes a slurry that helps plug the pores. Keep gently sanding until the sanding block starts to drag noticeably from the oil starting to set up, at that point it’s packing into the pores. Wait 2-6 hours before wiping it down then wipe cross grain to minimize pulling the slurry out of the pores. Apply second and third coat same way with finer sandpaper 400 grit is fine enough.

If you veneer thin stock as you had, always veneer both sides to even out the shrinkage, or use hide glue which doesn’t shrink. Use cheaper veneer on the inside.

-- The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

View kresso's profile


23 posts in 3140 days

#6 posted 12-19-2015 05:16 AM

wb8ns thanks for the info. I think doing the sanding slurry sounds like it would have fixed my problem. I think I am going to try and make pretty much the same box with those tips and see how it goes.

-- -Matthew Kress

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3351 days

#7 posted 12-19-2015 01:52 PM

Matthew, this box turned out so nicely.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View jumbojack's profile


1689 posts in 3108 days

#8 posted 12-19-2015 06:09 PM

You have produced a fine looking box.
Just a few suggestions, most are outlined above.
Always reinforce mitered sides. Miter keys or feathers or whatever you want to call them. Splines in the miters if you don’t want the ‘keys’ to show.
Always veneer both sides of your panels. Then prefinish the panels before assembly. I usually prefinish the interior parts as well.
Get some scrap and learn how to install hinges. They are a pain to get right but with some practice it will add a ‘finished’ dimension to your work.
Focus on a particular finish that works well on the projects you intend to build. All of my boxes get lacquer I love the look and feel of the finish it provides. That said I use a lot of Watco as well on projects that don’t get handled much.
Look on here for block Sanders. I make mine out of scrap and just spray glue sandpaper to them. When the paper is shot I peel it off hit the scrap with the belt sanded and glue a new one on. I mark the back with the grit. You will rarely sand through a panel hand sanding. Don’t feel too bad we have ALL sanded through a veneer.
Get a piece of MDF and glue down some 80-100 grit sandpaper to true up your top and sides. This will prevent over sanding the corners and the resulting gaps.
By the way yellow glue is fine for panels that small. Anything larger you should look into hide glue. Before I got my vacuum press I used sheets of MDF and cauls to glue the panels.
Be warned box making is highly addictive. If it weren’t for friends and family wanting other things they are probably all I would ever build.
Merry Christmas.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

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