Spalted Birch Box

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Project by jumbojack posted 12-21-2015 07:04 PM 1896 views 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Several years ago a group of Birch trees died at the house across the street. They sat dead for about a year until one day a young couple bought the house and dropped the trees. I asked them for the rounds as they sat there for a few days. I got an emphatic YES get them out of here.
I wheelbarrowed them home and milled them. MUCH to my delight they had some nice Spalding. They sat in my wood yard for a year stickered.
Last year I made a box for a Christmas gift and this year I made a very similar one for the neighbors that gifted me the wood.
There was a lot of this lumber that had gone past spalting and was rotten, but I was able to get enough for a 12” x 9” box.
I venerred some wild curly maple on both sides of some 3/16” ply for the lid. I have finally figured out how to get a nearly invisible joint in the bookmatching of veneer. Both sides sides turned out really nice.
I reinforced the miters with some ebony and mortsed in a thumb lift with the ebony as well. I also pinned the thumb lift with a 1/16” copper nail that I cut flush. It adds a little strength and a little bling IF you even notice it. Perhaps a little design surprise when found.
The Brusso hinges, purchased during one of their sales, were mortised in. Hinges are always a challenge for me; getting the mounting holes ‘just’ right. I have taken to locating the holes with a large sewing needle, then with an awl. This gives an exact starting place for the brad point bit. I use a hand drill for this procedure as I have more control with the depth and angle.
Applying finish was a challenge as we have actually been getting some rain here in the parched Sacramento valley. Between storms I was able to get several coats of lacquer applied. I rubbed it all down with some 400 grit between the 4th and 5th coat. The finish was silky smooth without being slick. A couple coats of Johnson’s paste wax applied with 4x steel wool adds to the touch factor.
The box was delivered this morning as a surprise gift. They were very pleased and that pleases me
Thanks for suffering through this long winded post..

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

12 comments so far

View Jerry's profile


3484 posts in 2499 days

#1 posted 12-21-2015 07:53 PM

Very nice Jack, you’ve made lemonade out of lemons!

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View Ivan's profile


16226 posts in 3718 days

#2 posted 12-21-2015 08:20 PM

I like the natural look of it. Nice black splines.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View XquietflyX's profile


339 posts in 1811 days

#3 posted 12-21-2015 08:21 PM

looks great!!1

-- You can tell a lot about your wife by her hands, for example if they are around your throat she's prolly pissed off at you...

View Boxguy's profile


2880 posts in 3119 days

#4 posted 12-21-2015 10:25 PM

Jumbo, nice job here. I like the look of the wood. Looks like your patience with the process has turned out well. You did an especially nice job on the corner splines.

Have you tried using a Vix bit with your hinges? The link is a 20 second Lee Valley video that explains it nicely. Perhaps you mean “spalted” instead of “salted” ?

-- Big Al in IN

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25188 posts in 3956 days

#5 posted 12-21-2015 11:09 PM

Nice box, Jack. Beautiful wood!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View jumbojack's profile


1691 posts in 3475 days

#6 posted 12-21-2015 11:19 PM

Yeah Al I have a love/hate relationship with autocorrect. I caught all the salted corrections in the body just not the title I have used those VIX bits in cabinet doors and they do a fine job on those. The tolerance for boxes is more precise than they provide. Being off 3 or 4 thou and your lid does not fit right. The needle awl works pretty well provided there are cheater glasses nearby in the shop.
Thanks as always for the insights.

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

View AandCstyle's profile


3286 posts in 3108 days

#7 posted 12-21-2015 11:30 PM

Jack you did a fantastic job with the beautiful veneer. I hope the recipients appreciate what a wonderful gift you gave them.

-- Art

View drewpy's profile


1043 posts in 2208 days

#8 posted 12-21-2015 11:34 PM

Turned out to be a beautiful box. I like the wood combo’s.

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

View Josh's profile


1234 posts in 3420 days

#9 posted 12-22-2015 03:40 AM

great build. LOTS of character.

-- Tree, wood, and box lover from Pennsylvania

View endgrainy's profile


251 posts in 2739 days

#10 posted 12-22-2015 02:21 PM

Great story and wonderful figure on the box. Nice job!

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

View oldnovice's profile


7652 posts in 4219 days

#11 posted 12-23-2015 04:12 AM

That is a gorgeous box!
The “wild” veneer is outstanding as the pattern offsets the irregular spalting!

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3655 days

#12 posted 12-27-2015 02:20 PM

Very nice box jj. A belated Merry Christmas to you and yours. I’m trying to catch up

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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