Boxguy Gets A Swirly

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Project by Boxguy posted 11-18-2016 04:14 PM 2027 views 8 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Thanks for looking. Thanks especially to you who take time to leave a comment. I am looking forward to any questions, comments, or suggestions you care to add to this post. Sharing is what Lumberjocks is all about. I try to respond to all comments, so check back for feedback.

Pictured: This is a six-sided jewelry keeper (12 1/2×6 1/4 x 4 1/4) with a Crotch African Mahogany top, quarter-sawn White Oak sides, and Teak corner splines. The internal, sliding tray is made from the same White Oak board and also has teak splines. The black area is a foam and velvet insert that can hold rings, earrings, and small pins. This is a link to a site that sells the insert material on line. If you press down firmly on these foam inserts with a board, you can cut and size them on the table saw using your miter gauge.

The Wood: This box is made entirely from recycled materials. The top came from an African Mahogany tree that grew in Ivory Coast, Africa. It was a weathered, cracked, gray, scrap on the ground at a local veneer mill when I got it. I managed to salvage just enough of the board to make this top. It is crotch mahogany. Crotch grained wood comes from the part of the tree just below a fork or large branch. That gives it this swirling grain (hence, the title “Gets a Swirly”). The White Oak in the sides was scrap from local trim company. It was a cut-off from a much longer board. The corner splines came from a Teak tree that grew in Berma, Asia. This Teak wood was dunnage, or wood used to hold machinery in place during shipping when I got it. Even the bottom plywood was a scrap from a local company that makes architectural plywood.

I am fortunate to live in an area where there are a number of veneer mills and related companies. Hardwood trees grow wild in Southern Indiana. The hills here are covered with oak, cherry, and walnut trees. I have friends who bring me wood from lots of sources. They bring me wood and from time to time i give them boxes. Everyone is happy with this arrangement.

I love how this box looks in daylight. The grain in the White Oak sides has rays that seem to swim along its sides. Seen from the inside, the African Mahogany grain looks like flowing water. The teak corner splines give an attractive contrast and will shimmer in strong light.

The Story: A friend commissioned three jewelry keepers to give to his wife and two daughters. He wanted them to be similar, but not alike. They will be Christmas presents. This is the third in this series of boxes. Here are links to the first and second of this series that I posted on Lumberjocks. They have both been well received, and thank you for that.

Focus: When you are making boxes to sell you can afford to make several in a series. You can experiment with variations on a shape as in this series, or you can vary the shape like this

Or maybe this

Or you could team up with a glass artist to make this.

My point is that boxes don’t have to be an oblong shape with a top. There can be a lot of variety in shape and size.

Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

24 comments so far

View ralbuck's profile


6118 posts in 2777 days

#1 posted 11-18-2016 05:17 PM

Your boxes always look great. Make some of us realize how inadequate some of our work is.

Fantastic set of boxes! BOXES ARE NOT BORING!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Diggerjacks's profile


2314 posts in 3649 days

#2 posted 11-18-2016 06:02 PM


All the boxes are awesome

I’m excited to try to make one in the future months

Thanks for sharing

-- Diggerjack-France ---The only limit is the limit of the mind and the mind has no limit

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

6829 posts in 3863 days

#3 posted 11-18-2016 08:03 PM

Every one of your box variations look professionally done. Exquisite workmanship to say the least.

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3377 days

#4 posted 11-18-2016 10:28 PM

Al, all of these are so beautiful. I love the top of the main one featured in this post. This one has a lovely set of accents. Your craftsmanship is so outstanding.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Boxguy's profile


2856 posts in 2778 days

#5 posted 11-18-2016 11:36 PM

Responses to Comments:

Ralbuck, my experience with posting on Lumber Jocks is that there are plenty of artist out there who can make most of us feel humble. Andy's last post is an example. Andy is my hero and a true artist with boxes.

Diggerjack, thanks for the kind words. I really am looking forward to seeing your next box creation. Keep boxing and keep posting.

Tony, thanks for the compliments. I sell boxes, but it mostly supports my tool habit. It is not a living. So, it gives me freedom to follow my bliss in the boxes that I do make.

Charles, thanks. The African Crotch Mahogany is a rarely beautiful piece of wood. I too love the flow of the grain, especially on the inside of the box

-- Big Al in IN

View SteveGaskins's profile


760 posts in 3097 days

#6 posted 11-19-2016 12:04 AM

Al, exceptional box, as always. Great information in the post.

-- Steve, South Carolina,

View jeffswildwood's profile


4057 posts in 2487 days

#7 posted 11-19-2016 12:35 AM

Al, as always a beautiful box. I just can’t get over that the wood was from pallets and other sources. Amazing what wonderful wood gets used up on pallets and other items. I really enjoyed the other boxes posted and they have given me inspiration. After all, boxes are the most fun projects of all to do.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View DocSavage45's profile


8865 posts in 3353 days

#8 posted 11-19-2016 02:29 AM


Trying to find materials to weld that aren’t galvanized. Will check out a local salvage yard this weekend.

Nicely done and good tutorial .

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Duder22's profile


30 posts in 1422 days

#9 posted 11-19-2016 04:49 AM

Really amazing! I learn something new from every one of your projects.

-- -Joe, If we weren't all crazy, we would go insane. -JB

View ronstar's profile


519 posts in 4221 days

#10 posted 11-19-2016 05:27 AM

Totally awesome boxes! My favorite is also the first one, with the glass top one running a close second. Truly unique with great craftsmanship.

-- Ron, Northern Illinois

View Boxguy's profile


2856 posts in 2778 days

#11 posted 11-19-2016 06:10 AM

Replies to Comments:

Steve, thanks. Glad you liked the information. I liked the boxes you and your grand-daughter posted especially the signature on the bottom. There Is much to like there. Lots of thoughtful details. Your cradle is a masterpiece. Aren’t grandchildren projects the best?

Jeff, sounds like you are as hooked on boxes as I am. The great thing about boxes is that you can make one and move on to a new idea in the next one. I like that I can change and evolve as I go and they are just plain fun to build.

Ron, the box I like best is always the last one I made. Thanks for the compliments.

Doc, I’ll send you a personal message about scrap for welding. As always, thanks for the encouragement.

Joe, nice of you to notice that I work at adding an educational nugget in most of my posts. Thanks for the kind words about that. You really did a nice job on the gun box you made. I especially liked the tapered top and the splines. Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View snapper1's profile


79 posts in 1125 days

#12 posted 11-19-2016 10:12 AM

Another beautie
looks fantastic
Can you tell me what finish you are using please?


View MustacheMike's profile


263 posts in 2599 days

#13 posted 11-19-2016 11:16 AM

Outstanding! You have a true gift. Keep expanding your talent and we look forward to more>

-- You can trust Mike -" because I will never pull your stash!" See my show weekly at

View rhybeka's profile


4696 posts in 3632 days

#14 posted 11-19-2016 11:57 AM

Those are awesome boxes, Al! and the wood – wow! I’m hoping to get into box making in the new year and decided to start my research. Thanks for taking the time to write things out!

-- Beka/Becky - aspiring jill of all trades, still learning to not read the directions.

View Boxguy's profile


2856 posts in 2778 days

#15 posted 11-19-2016 12:34 PM

Replies to Comments:

Garry, welcome to Lumberland. Click here and you will have the whole finishing technique laid out. The finish is hand applied Tung Oil and Wipe-on Poly.

Mike, thanks for the encouraging words I appreciate that.

Beka, good luck on your boxmaking adventure.

Here are some sources of information by topic if you want to explore them.

Tutorials: For methods used to make boxes like the one pictured above just click on the blue links below. They are arranged by topic.

Making a jig to cut spline slots:
Jig for 45ing corners:
Making splines with a simple jig:
Finishing tips:
$5 band clamps:
Combining Wood Colors:
Sizing Tea Boxes and Dividers From Venetian Blinds
Making Kleenex boxes:
Making music boxes
Routers and Rounding edges
Why round box corners?
Organizing a glue-up table:
Adding splines to a box:
Measuring for spline slot cuts:
Installing an attached top: like that pictured above.
Cutting off the box top and sizing piano hinges
Adding finger indents:
More about finger indents.
Mortising and installing hinges:
Tips on making sliding trays: for inside boxes:
Cutting cloth liners for trays and the bottom of boxes.
Swapping Wood By Mail:
Making a serving tray with angled sides.
Roy Underhill's tool tote.
Teaching Boxmaking

-- Big Al in IN

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