Sapele, Quilted Maple, and Ebony Box

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Project by SwedishIron posted 09-06-2009 11:01 PM 11069 views 51 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The Materials:
The boxes primary wood is Sapele, the solid top is a 1/4” Quilted Maple panel, and Gabon Ebony is the accent wood. The escutcheon inlay is handmade out of is some old piano key Ivory that I bought from a guy in Rhode Island “a.k.a. Walnuts” who sells his wears regularly on Woodnet and Ebay. The hinges are from Brasso and the 1/2 mortise lock is from Woodcraft.

Calculating the Dimension of the piece:
As with most projects I make from scratch, I find the aspect of my desired material that I want to use and figure out the limiting factor.. which turned out to be the height of the Sapele boards that I had re-sawn from a huge chunk that I had picked up. Using the height of the boards and plugging that into the Golden Ratio, I calculated the length and depth of the box to maximize the use of my materials.

The Finish
The entire piece was planed smooth, hand scraped and finally sanded down with 320 git w/d SP. The piece has two coats of Watco Natural Danish Oil. Inbetween both coats of oil the piece was lightly sanded w/ 600 grit w/d SP to help fill the grain of the Sapele. The top was french polished and the rest of the box was bushed Shellac. The shellac solution was about #3/4 pound cut so it was really thin and allowed me to put about three coats on the box in about an hour. It has about 15 coats, but remember they are really thin.

In between each three coat application I would rub down the surface w/ 600 w/d sandpaper using Mineral Spirits as a lubricant. After being satisfied with the overall coverage the final polishing step used Pink Stropping Abrasive compound shaved into a find powder and rubbed into the shellac w/ the direction of the grain using Paste Wax. I didn’t have any Pumice or Rottenstone on hand so the stropping abrasive worked just fine.

How Long did it take
The build took 18 hours.. including hardware, inlay. fixing a few accidental design opportunities.. and included in the build time was the fact that I originally lined the inside w/ Spanish Cedar but I removed it since it really dulled the piece and took way from the overall impact. It wasn’t intended as a humidor so I’m glad the inside was kept plain and not lined. The finishing time took about the same but that was mostly due to the fact I tried many new techniques and spent a lot of time waxing it to get the mirror finish.

Why I built it
The box was made as a thank you gift for some family friends the graciously gave me a complete Stanley #55 Combination plane in its original box. This project is the least I could do to try and compensate them for their generosity.

-- Scott, Colorado

27 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118146 posts in 4495 days

#1 posted 09-06-2009 11:07 PM

Beautiful box and outstanding woods


View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4740 days

#2 posted 09-06-2009 11:27 PM

Scott, this is a gorgeous box and the woods compliment one another well. I especially like the look of the quilted maple. Thanks for the story behind the box as well. I have often said that at times it is as important as the construction of the project itself. I think that this is a really nice gesture in return for a nice gift.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1921 posts in 4590 days

#3 posted 09-06-2009 11:29 PM

That’s gorgeous!!

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View Dalbergian's profile


74 posts in 4118 days

#4 posted 09-06-2009 11:34 PM

Stunning box,both the wood & your craftsmanship,the fact that you can see both sides of that gorgeous Maple really appeals to me!
I also like the fact that you used the Golden Ratio,I love how beauty can be simply mathematical…
I’m sure your friends are very grateful for such a beautiful box!

-- "Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible." ~ Frank Zappa

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2824 posts in 4508 days

#5 posted 09-06-2009 11:40 PM

shes a beauty

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 4609 days

#6 posted 09-06-2009 11:45 PM

she is stunning my friend

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View CharlieM1958's profile


16289 posts in 5136 days

#7 posted 09-06-2009 11:50 PM

Wonderful materials and craftsmanship. I believe that quilted maple, with help from your outstanding finishing technique, is the most stunning I’ve ever seen.

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

View WoodSpanker's profile


560 posts in 4310 days

#8 posted 09-07-2009 12:08 AM

Deliciously stunning! :D

-- Adventure? Heh! Excitement? Heh! A Woodworker craves not these things!

View whitedog's profile


652 posts in 4375 days

#9 posted 09-07-2009 12:09 AM

truly beautiful , both built and finish

-- Paul , Calfornia

View Terry's profile


206 posts in 4551 days

#10 posted 09-07-2009 12:42 AM

Wonderful box. That Maple is amazing.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4203 days

#11 posted 09-07-2009 04:29 AM

Scott, Beautiful box! The Maple you used for the top panel is AWESOME! and the finish is gorgous. Great job.

-- John @

View cabinetmaster's profile


10873 posts in 4476 days

#12 posted 09-07-2009 04:31 AM

AWESOME box. You have done an outstanding job on this.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View ghazard's profile


382 posts in 4427 days

#13 posted 09-07-2009 04:32 AM

Wow. That is beautiful. The finish and the maple panel are amazing!

-- "Hey, you dang woodchucks! Quit chuckin' my wood!"

View deucefour's profile


285 posts in 4172 days

#14 posted 09-07-2009 04:52 AM

I think that is the coolest piece of maple I have ever seen.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4803 days

#15 posted 09-07-2009 06:54 AM


-- Only the Shadow knows....................

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