two small Koa boxes

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Project by vicrider posted 07-07-2010 06:24 AM 3009 views 1 time favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here are two small Koa boxes I have just finished. They are approximately 8” x 3” x 3”. Due to the increasing rarity and difficulty of obtaining Koa, and my belief that it is one of the most beautiful of all woods, I am experimenting with small boxes done in 1/4” stock. The grain pattern is curly (or fiddleback) on all sides and show’s the typical lustrous waves common to highly figured Koa (here’s a word I discovered while researching Koa – chatoyance – basically the shimmering change of luster as the piece is moved).

The joinery is straight forward, either mitered or a rabbeted butt joint at the corners with the bottom set into a 1/8” dado (not flush). I used small felt pads on the corner bottoms to soften the ‘seat’. This size stock doesn’t lend itself to splines or box joints or fasteners, so I am using 3/32” brass rod for hinges and epoxy to glue the joints. These boxes are admittedly delicate and even with epoxied joints they may not hold up over time. One can hope they do.

Most of the time expended went into the finish. Lots of do-overs. They are hand rubbed high gloss polyurethane for shine and durability. Koa is open grained and must be filled prior to finishing to obtain a mirror like surface. There is also a week wait time while the finish cures prior to rubbing out the surface. No matter how much I clean my shop there are always tiny flecks and dust in the finish. Very visible in gloss. When they’re done though, the grain looks superb and they feel really great in your hand. Soft as a baby’s ….. ;-)

As you can tell I am also experimenting with my new Nikon camera.

Looking forward to comments.

-- vicrider

18 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4591 days

#1 posted 07-07-2010 06:32 AM

Wonderful and beautiful box plus amazing wood.


View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4322 days

#2 posted 07-07-2010 06:57 AM

Very nice boxes. The grain is fantastic. I have never used koa before but your boxes make me want to order some.

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 4056 days

#3 posted 07-07-2010 07:36 AM

You do some fantastic work Vicrider.

View Ken90712's profile


17973 posts in 4203 days

#4 posted 07-07-2010 11:00 AM

Great lookng box’s and amazing wood. Very well done! Congrats.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View littlecope's profile


3117 posts in 4516 days

#5 posted 07-07-2010 11:02 AM

Fine Work, my Friend!! The Koa is spectacular, and your finish really does it justice…

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4348 days

#6 posted 07-07-2010 11:03 AM

Beautiful boxes and superb finish. The Koa wood really stands out.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Wheathills's profile


70 posts in 4235 days

#7 posted 07-07-2010 11:29 AM

Beautifully grained timber, you’ve certainly made the most of that excellent wood

-- Wheathills, Derbyshire, UK,

View Kathy's profile


210 posts in 3935 days

#8 posted 07-07-2010 12:57 PM

These are breath taking. I love the way the grain all seems to continue and match perfectly.

-- curious woodworker

View PKP's profile


95 posts in 4460 days

#9 posted 07-07-2010 01:25 PM

nery nicely done!

View Bott's profile


22 posts in 3901 days

#10 posted 07-07-2010 02:27 PM

These are stunning You should be very happy how they turned out.

View Cozmo35's profile


2200 posts in 4050 days

#11 posted 07-07-2010 05:51 PM

Great choice of wood and I really like the way you attached the lids!

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 4747 days

#12 posted 07-07-2010 07:38 PM

Beautiful box, love the curly Koa. Have never worked with Koa before so have no experience with how easy or hard it is to work and finish but it looks like you have mastered it. Great job – keep up the good work.


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View SRWoodworker's profile


34 posts in 5066 days

#13 posted 07-07-2010 09:16 PM

A local hardwood supplier here in San Diego, about two months ago, had a pallet full of 4/4 Koa including some shorts. $48/bd was expensive. Wish I had more storage as I would have bought some for a future project.

-- Jerry

View vicrider's profile


183 posts in 3912 days

#14 posted 07-07-2010 11:20 PM

Currently, any purchase of Koa is a great deal. They are only allowing the logging of naturally downed timber at this time. No living tree can be cut. I was very fortunate to be able to purchase 100 bd ft back in 1997 directly from a sawyer in Hilo. I still have most of it left. The highly figured stuff can run to $90-$100 bd ft. It is really pretty tho, isn’t it? But that’s why I am really picky about what I use it for. Pretty much nothing over 1/4” thick.

-- vicrider

View vicrider's profile


183 posts in 3912 days

#15 posted 07-07-2010 11:28 PM

Oh yeah, it’s pretty easy to work with. You have to be careful with planing due to the curl; there is a slight tendency to chip. I have a Grizzly thickness sander so I only have to get close with the planer, then sand to final size. Zebra wood is lots harder to work, the grain is interlocked and you virtually have to sand it into submission. And I did a lignum vitae box some years back that dulled several tools, but it was a really great green color that I liked.

-- vicrider

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