Spalted Sycamore Surprise

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Project by DocT posted 12-23-2009 03:08 AM 3399 views 11 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My Mom requested a box for Christmas to replace the make-up box she has been using. She was very specific about the dimensions, but left the design up to me.

Luckily, I had been saving some offcuts from some very special boards my Grandpa (maternal) gave to me several years ago. He and his Dad had milled these boards sometime in the thirties. Somehow the boards had ended up stacked in the back of a run-in shed and were covered with cow crap. Once I cleaned them up, I found that they were beautifully quarter-sawn sycamore. Some areas were a bit punky, but overall the boards were sound and even had some interesting spalting. I had the offcuts leftover primarily because they were only figured along half of the board (the other half appeared to be from near a fork). The contrast didn’t work in my other project, but I really like the contrast in this small scale. I absolutely adore the figure of quartered sycamore. I wish I had some more!

The box is approximately 8×13 and stands 6 inches tall. The sides are 3/8 inch thick quartered sycamore box-jointed at the corners. Even the sound wood was leaning toward the punky side and box joints were probably not the best choice. Even though I taped the wood with packing tape prior to milling the joints, there is a small amount of blowout/ fiber tearout along the joint. I tried to maintain grain continuity by “wrapping” the re-sawn boards around the box. The lid and base accents are black walnut. The lid frame is mitered and keyed at the corners and hinged at the back with brass hinges. The finish is sprayed lacquer.


21 comments so far

View Rj's profile


1047 posts in 5086 days

#1 posted 12-23-2009 03:26 AM

This is really nice! The Walnut goes great with the darker areas in the Sycamore and I’ll bet the grain from the Sycamore really shimmers in the light..

Your Mom will cherish this gift

-- Rj's Woodworks,San Jose & Weed Ca,

View tucsoncyclist's profile


96 posts in 4546 days

#2 posted 12-23-2009 03:27 AM

That is one good looking box.

-- Marc - Tucson, AZ

View scrounger's profile


121 posts in 4538 days

#3 posted 12-23-2009 03:29 AM

Great job Doc, I really like the wood and I’m sure your mother will treasure it always.

-- Dave, Southern IL.,

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5673 days

#4 posted 12-23-2009 03:31 AM

Nice work. I love spalted sycamore too.

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

View wchips's profile


314 posts in 4543 days

#5 posted 12-23-2009 03:34 AM

Nice looking box . Have a nice day Lee

-- wchips

View Hallmark's profile


432 posts in 4561 days

#6 posted 12-23-2009 03:53 AM

Nice looking box, love the choice of wood. She should be pleased.

-- Style is simple, but not my execution of it.

View a1Jim's profile


118322 posts in 5032 days

#7 posted 12-23-2009 04:14 AM

Great Box Doc and most intriguing figured wood


View whitedog's profile


652 posts in 4912 days

#8 posted 12-23-2009 04:29 AM

beautiful … i love the sycamore and the base really ties well with the lid

-- Paul , Calfornia

View griff's profile


1207 posts in 5216 days

#9 posted 12-23-2009 04:52 AM

Very nice box Doc, I like the figures sycamore and the walnut really makes the lighter parts shine. Very good build

-- Mike, Bruce Mississippi = Jack of many trades master of none

View zlatanv's profile


691 posts in 4689 days

#10 posted 12-23-2009 06:08 AM

Beautiful wood, and box!

-- Z, Rockwall, TX

View Monty Queen's profile

Monty Queen

1600 posts in 4706 days

#11 posted 12-23-2009 06:15 AM

Great design, loveing it.

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

View Matt512's profile


2 posts in 4535 days

#12 posted 12-23-2009 06:27 AM

Awesome box. I think the best pieces use wood with a story behind it. Great work!

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3672 posts in 5167 days

#13 posted 12-23-2009 06:29 AM

Your mom will be delighted! It’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

-- Voltaire: “Those Who Can Make You Believe Absurdities, Can Make You Commit Atrocities” There are 112 genders (not including male and female)

View ohwoodeye's profile


2775 posts in 4608 days

#14 posted 12-23-2009 07:40 AM

I have a new mission. Dig through every pile of cow crap I encounter looking for a treasured piece of wood hidden underneath. Being from Wisconsin, there should be no shortage of manure piles to choose from.
Beautiful wood done one better by a beautifully designed and crafted box. This is one make-up box that can be left out on the bathroom counter for all to see.

-- "Fine Woodworking" is the name given to a project that takes 3 times longer than normal to finish because you used hand tools instead of power tools. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 4885 days

#15 posted 12-23-2009 08:14 AM

Fantastic box. Love the story behind it also. Great coloring in the spalt. Great build. I am sure your mother will treasure it.

Keep it up.


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

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