A secret box - a box within a cabinet

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Project by madburg posted 03-31-2016 01:12 PM 2398 views 7 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This secret box is part of a complex curiosity cabinet I made a few years back – I’ll get round to posting the cabinet sometime. The box is disguised as a couple of the cabinets interior drawers.

Its veneered in red maple with stringing to match that on the cabinet. It has shell inlays on its back – actually the false drawer fronts. These match the other cabinet drawers. The shell inlays were purchased from a luthier supplier in Vietnam to special order at around US$50 each, and are book matched on each drawer front. Despite each drawer having left and right hand paired inlays which look the same, they were all slightly different! Which meant the 16 on the on the eight drawers, and the two on the outside of the theater doors all had to be cut separately. I had thought I could stack cut each pair of book matched fonts (4 for each design) as a packet – alas no!!!

The interior of the box has a parquetry lid – some of you may recognise the design from Pierre’s books.

The interior of the box has my usual hidden compartments and a false floor, plus a Japanese puzzle box in the middle. This I think takes something like 15 moves to get open. This part was purchased as a kit, but is still hand veneered, and needs to be glued up very carefully glued together under pressure to ensure there are no gaps.

This box was the most exacting one I have ever made. Those of you into veneered boxes will know that usually the finished size isn’t important, if its a bit bigger or smaller than you originally intended then no problem. HOWEVER if the veneered box then has to fit into precise space, like a drawer opening then, there is no room at all for error. You can’t sand or plane a bit more off the sides to make it fit, otherwise you’ll go through the veneer. When you push the box in, the drawers above and below it are ‘blown’ out – its such a good fit!! The other interesting problem with the box was hinging it’s lid. You can’t have normal hinge knuckles sticking up or the box wouldn’t fit in its hole. So I used barrel hinges – not the most robust of hinges, and quite difficult to line up in the lid and front, but they gave the desired result.

As at taster to my curiosity cabinet Ancient and Modern. The last picture shows its interior with this secret box removed – sorry I look so glum!!! The main doors of the cabinet have two different marquetry panels, based on similar panels on Jean-Henri Riesener furniture of the 1780’s. Again taken from Pierres’ books.

Finally here’s a picture of the contents of the cabinet you can just see the ‘secret box’ stacked up on the left on top of a few of the other drawers.

And yes I’ll get round to posting full details and pictures of the cabinet sometime – thanks for looking.

-- Madburg WA

24 comments so far

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1095 posts in 2826 days

#1 posted 03-31-2016 01:26 PM

Strewth! This is truly impressive workmanship Martin. Mere mortals can only admire it.

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View kiefer's profile


5682 posts in 3181 days

#2 posted 03-31-2016 01:34 PM

Incredible Work.
Thanks for the interesting post .


-- Kiefer

View Eyal's profile


91 posts in 2080 days

#3 posted 03-31-2016 01:53 PM

truly impressive! what a work of art!

View WhattheChuck's profile


368 posts in 4075 days

#4 posted 03-31-2016 01:55 PM

Amazing! What else can one say? I’d love a short course on just one aspect, like the parquetry top.

-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View XquietflyX's profile


339 posts in 1475 days

#5 posted 03-31-2016 01:57 PM


-- 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 shipwright's profile


8381 posts in 3312 days

#6 posted 03-31-2016 02:43 PM

Mind boggling amount of precision work. My hat is off to you to be sure. The quality of your work is a given but this absolutely amazes me in it’s sheer quantity. What an extraordinary commitment it must have taken to even envision this never mind to actually complete it.
I guess that may be my comment for your future post of the larger project. I got carried away. This component does deserve its own post as likely do several of the others.

Well done! just doesn’t cover it.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3381 days

#7 posted 03-31-2016 03:25 PM

This is absolutely beautiful. You really do fine work that is so full of elegance and craftsmanship.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Coss's profile


23 posts in 1307 days

#8 posted 03-31-2016 03:38 PM

You must be a pro! This is astounding work

-- Coss

View Northwest29's profile


1681 posts in 3004 days

#9 posted 03-31-2016 03:45 PM

WOW! I am speechless -

-- Ron, Eugene, OR, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View Julian's profile


1484 posts in 3205 days

#10 posted 03-31-2016 04:42 PM

Beautifully done. This is something I would expect to see in a museum. Fantastic.

-- Julian

View leafherder's profile


1851 posts in 2466 days

#11 posted 03-31-2016 06:29 PM

WOW! Just WOW!.. The box within a box – WOW! The inlay and marquetry – WOW! The other boxes within boxes – WOW! The attention to detail on all those pieces – WOW!

I just have one question: What are the dimensions? (Because that last picture does not look like the box you are holding would fit into the open space in the cabinet – my eyes must be playing a trick with perspective – WOW!)

Thanks for sharing this.


-- Leafherder

View Longcase's profile


101 posts in 1961 days

#12 posted 03-31-2016 06:58 PM

Very impressive indeed.

View Ivan's profile


15092 posts in 3382 days

#13 posted 03-31-2016 07:05 PM

Wow! Totaly mind blowing. Outside marquetry looks magnificant. Inside fascinating set of different compartments.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View atouchofoz's profile


131 posts in 1573 days

#14 posted 03-31-2016 07:09 PM

WOW~WAH! AMAZING! It boggles my mind or eyes! I think it would take me a long time to put it all back together again. Not only beautiful, it’s also is amusing, artistic, definitely a collectors heirloom. One of those things that is hard to believe even while looking at it for a long period of time! What a treasure! ~Suzanne

-- Suzanne, A Touch Of O.Z.

View bonobo's profile


297 posts in 2571 days

#15 posted 03-31-2016 09:17 PM

This has to be one of the best things I’ve ever seen on LumberJocks.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

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