Heart Shaped Bandsaw Box

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Project by Walnut_Weasel posted 09-09-2009 01:13 AM 12127 views 7 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well of course since I have started woodworking my wife has been relentless in asking for me to make her something. So, since her birthday is coming up, I thought I had better get off my butt and make her something. I think she was very happy with the results!

This is the 4th bandsaw box that I have made to date. It is made from a solid chunk of leopardwood (only about 3” sq) with a brass pin used as a hinge for the lid. I finished it with 2 coats of Watco natural danish oil and 5 or 6 coats of Minwax wipe-on gloss poly.

This project had several firsts for me – which is easy to accomplish when you are a newbie.

1) This is the first time working with leopardwood. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. Very solid and heavy wood that sanded very well. However I did encounter a new problem. When sanding the top and bottom flat on my small belt sander, they both cupped very bad. I think this was a result of needing a new belt. The old belt is just about worn out and I think too much heat was generated while removing the saw marks from the bandsaw on the very thin wood. So I ended up spending a good 2-3 hours hand sanding the cups out of the top and bottom. (yes, they were cupped that bad!)

2) This is the first time that I have made a “hinge” from scratch. I knew that I wanted to have a piece of brass showing because I thought it would look nice with the rich color of the leopardwood…but I had a hard time figuring out how to make it. I kicked around the idea of just buying a piece of brass rod and cutting a chunk off of it, but I really wanted it to have a shoulder to prevent the lid from coming off. So what I came up with was buying a crowned brass machine screw with a straight screwdriver slot and taking a file to it until the entire slot was removed. Then I sanded it through the grits from 150 down to 320. Once it was sanded I used a polishing wheel on my Dremel to put a mirror finish on it. Then I CA glued it into place in the box.

3) This is my first attempt at using poly of any kind. As everyone said, wipe-on poly is pretty hard to screw up and it shows because it ended up looking great! However, I did have hard time getting a good finish with it on the end grain of the box. Someone suggested that I may try to fill the grain prior to finishing to help reduce the number of coats needed on the end grain in the future. If anyone else has suggestions please let me know.

All and all I am pretty happy with the results. If anyone has suggestions, comments, or questions let me know. Thanks for looking!!

-- James -

17 comments so far

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 4540 days

#1 posted 09-09-2009 01:40 AM

The leopardwood was an excellent choice for this project. It really sets the beauty of the piece.

Congratulations on all your firsts.


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View Dudley's profile


742 posts in 4505 days

#2 posted 09-09-2009 02:12 AM

I really like it. BZ

-- Dudley Young USN Retired. Sebastian, Fl.

View tooldad's profile


665 posts in 4960 days

#3 posted 09-09-2009 03:54 AM

How did you cut out the middle? Bandsaw with a cut in it? Scroll saw? and the glued bottom back on? or did you router it out? I have a couple of students who want to make them and I have only made them with the dish cutter and it is challenging with that small of a box. My other thought was to resaw the top and bottom of after cutting out the main shape, then scroll saw the inside out and reglue. What’s your thoughts? Thanks, Tooldad

View a1Jim's profile


118258 posts in 4822 days

#4 posted 09-09-2009 03:58 AM

Looks great James really cool heart box.


View Innovator's profile


3589 posts in 4658 days

#5 posted 09-09-2009 04:36 AM

James, thats a nice looking box.

Beautiful color.

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 4467 days

#6 posted 09-09-2009 04:36 AM


You start by cutting off the top and bottom. Then you cut into the block to cut out the center. Then you lightly sand the cut that breaks into the center, then clamp and glue it back. Then sand the inside, top, and bottom. Then glue the bottom on. Then rubber cement the top on. Then cut out the outside shape and do all exterior finish sanding before removing the lid. Then just put a final sand on everything. The one thing to be careful with, is that when you clamp and glue the cut into the center it shifts the center of the piece. I keep planing on making a detailed blog about this but I have not gotten around to it. I have been kicking around some ideas for the next one I make, I will try to take the time to blog it.

Here is a partial blog from one of my previous boxes that was a bit more complex.

-- James -

View FloridaArt's profile


878 posts in 4543 days

#7 posted 09-09-2009 05:08 AM

I do not recall seeing leopard wood in my local Woodcraft store, nor in my local hardwood lumber yard. I will have to ask them next time I visit. It looks like a very nice, uniform hardwood. I like the finish you applied. It looks deep and rich, but also sturdy to handling (fingernails, etc.). Good work!!

-- Art | Bradenton, Florida

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 4675 days

#8 posted 09-09-2009 05:26 AM

Fantastic job! Love the leopardwood. You are right….The brass pin gives the lid a little something extra.

One suggestion, You might try checking with your local boat suplly place/seller. They use a lot of brass screws and some of them are carraige bolts. It might be easier to round the shank of the bolt and you would still have the domed top on it. Just a thought.

Again really nice job and I bet she just loved it.

Keep it up.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View bamasawduster's profile


321 posts in 4839 days

#9 posted 09-09-2009 06:03 AM

I really like your boxes. I have had so much going on lately. Got to get back to the bandsaw. Great work.

-- Gary, Huntsville. Two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do.

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 4467 days

#10 posted 09-09-2009 03:14 PM

Thanks to all for the kind words.

Scrappy – I will keep the local boat store next time I am looking for brass. Thanks.

Art – The piece of leopard used in this project was from my local woodcraft. They currently have a box of small turning blanks about 3×3x2 for $5 each. I snatched up a lot of these blanks (purple heart, leopardwood, african mahogany, padauk, etc) recently when they had a 25% off all wood sale. Great wood at a pretty decent price considering I am a newbie and don’t have a lot of place to store lumber yet.

-- James -

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4586 days

#11 posted 09-09-2009 03:24 PM

leopardwood ,
at paxtons ( our local exotics store ,
they call
lacewood .
supposed to be from australia .

beautifull box !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Wingstress's profile


339 posts in 4760 days

#12 posted 09-09-2009 05:18 PM

Great job, I don’t think I’ve ever used leopardwood either, but australian lace wood is pretty easy to find. I’ve also had a good time working with the wood. Cuts and sands well. A little tear out similar to walnut, with some nasty splinters in your hand if you’re not careful. If you are getting into bandsaw boxes, a good book to pick up on or woodcraft store is Building Beautiful Boxes with your bandsaw by Lois Keener Ventura, also Cutting Edge band saw tips & tricks by Kenneth Burton. Just be sure that you have at least 5.5-inches of resaw capacity before you buy the building beautiful boxes book, because something like 11 out of the 13 projects require that amount of resaw. I was rather upset to find I couldn’t make any of the boxes after I bought the book. I remedied that by buying a 14-inch Rikon bandsaw with a 12-inch resaw capacity. Here are some examples of Lacewood wood bandsaw boxes.

P.S. I like the idea of incorporating the brass. Nice contrast!

Click for details
Click for details
Click for details
Click for details

-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 4467 days

#13 posted 09-09-2009 06:24 PM

The above posts made me wonder exactly what IS the difference between leopardwood and lacewood? (if any)

Some quick searching on the net indicates that they are both from the same family or tree but do have a few very minor differences. The sites I looked at suggest that leopard is slightly darker and will typically produce smaller rays. They also mention that it is harder and heavier than lacewood. Otherwise they seem to be the same.

I am not sure what type of finish Tom applied to his boxes, but based on his photos vs. mine the above info seems to hold true.

Hope this helps!

-- James -

View Wingstress's profile


339 posts in 4760 days

#14 posted 09-10-2009 01:28 AM

Hey James,
I usually just use a little tung oil or danish oil followed by a couple coats of shellac. (Also very easy to apply and hard to screw up…) Keep up the great work. Can’t wait to see more projects…

P.S. You’re certainly right, leopardwood usually looks darker and tighter than lacewood, but I think you can achieve the same results…

-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 4467 days

#15 posted 09-10-2009 03:45 PM


Thanks for the suggestion. I will been wanting to give Shellac a shot. I will have to give it a try on one of my projects in the near future. Also I agree with you regarding leopard vs lacewood – I think they are close enough that a person may just want to buy which ever one costs the least!

-- James -

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