A Pair of Japanese Tea Boxes

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Project by mauibob posted 12-19-2017 08:31 PM 2032 views 3 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This set of small boxes was made on a marquetry chevalet, with two copies of each made simultaneously. The designs were taken from 18th century prints by the Japanese woodblock master Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806).

The marquetry was produced using maple and walnut burls, dyed Koto and a couple of odds and ends veneers that I happened to have floating around in the shop. The boxes themselves were made of cherry, with an imported handmade Italian paper used for the lining.

Just posting this so that I can wish all my Lumberjocks friends a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

14 comments so far

View rayn's profile


199 posts in 4549 days

#1 posted 12-19-2017 08:56 PM

Great marquetry !!!

-- Ray,Iowa

View robscastle's profile


8346 posts in 3535 days

#2 posted 12-19-2017 09:32 PM


Just happened to knock these up eh!

Now thats some impressive work, so impressive in fact I want to ask you something,
cand you show some more pictures please?
In particular the finished boxes, the paper and a consumable list of all the products you used to produce such fine work.

How could you do them simultaniously they are not symetecrial

If you are a very busy man and as its just a teser for a Merry Christmas salutation maybe Santa could do it for you.

Merry Christmas back at you!

-- Regards Rob

View mauibob's profile


257 posts in 4398 days

#3 posted 12-19-2017 10:41 PM

Thanks, Ray and Robert for the nice comments!

Robert, I’ve uploaded 3 more photos of one of the boxes. The other one is similar, but is wrapped up for Christmas!

As for “simultaneous”, what I meant to say was that I made multiple copies of each design, not both designs at once. So, I ended up with 2 boxes of each design. I didn’t push it past 2 since I wasn’t sure how I would like the outcome, but they came out pretty well and I probably should have made a few more when I had the chance!

The marquetry was applied to one side of a piece of Baltic birch plywood (~ 1/4” thickness), with the other side simply veneered with the burl. The designs were cut on a chevalet, but could have also been done on a scrollsaw with a fine blade. I used Brusso JB-101 stop hinges for the box—these are solid brass and worth the money.

Boxes were finished with several coats of natural tung oil, and completed with a thin waxing with Renaissance Wax (my favorite).

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

View robscastle's profile


8346 posts in 3535 days

#4 posted 12-19-2017 10:47 PM

Thanks neat as!

-- Regards Rob

View Ryan Nicholson's profile

Ryan Nicholson

70 posts in 1534 days

#5 posted 12-19-2017 11:32 PM

Ichiban Bob!

View tomd's profile


2225 posts in 5101 days

#6 posted 12-20-2017 04:08 AM

Very nice marquetry, great work.

-- Tom D

View Ivan's profile


17133 posts in 4199 days

#7 posted 12-20-2017 01:03 PM

Very demanding marquetry, I bet, very nice boxes.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Woodenwizard's profile


1369 posts in 4374 days

#8 posted 12-20-2017 06:00 PM

Out standing. I am considering building chevalet and learning that process. Thanks for sharing and for the holiday wishes. I hope you don’t have to wait until the next holiday season to share your work. I always motivates me to do more. Have a blessed Christmas.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1979 days

#9 posted 12-20-2017 09:20 PM

Excellent craftsmanship, Bob. Kudos. Merry Christmas.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4665 days

#10 posted 12-21-2017 04:52 PM

Beautifully done Bob. I love Japanese art. It has a timeless quality that is hard to match. I’ve been saving some that I have stored some from the web in my photo gallery with plans to do some of them in marquetry.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View shipwright's profile


8780 posts in 4129 days

#11 posted 12-21-2017 07:57 PM

Sorry Bob, I have no idea how I missed this.
Beautiful work and such a perfect subject. Japanese prints so lend themselves to marquetry and you have such a passion for both.
It’s good to see you using the chevalet too!
Best of the season to you and your family from sunny Az.

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

View mauibob's profile


257 posts in 4398 days

#12 posted 12-21-2017 08:19 PM

Thanks Mike. As you can see from my posts, I am a big fan of Japanese art. Like you said, the woodblock impressions really work well in marquetry—really just translating one wood art for another! My favorite artists for marquetry are Hokusai and Utamaro—Hokusai for great images of Fuji, with simple enough style to translate well into marquetry, and Utamaro for his court ladies, again with simple beauty. Luckily, the Web is loaded with good quality images so it makes it easy to make any mods.

Anyway, thanks for the nice comment. Make sure you let me know when you start your next ukiyo-e marquetry project! Merry Christmas!

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

View Woodketeer's profile


19 posts in 2347 days

#13 posted 03-03-2018 03:10 AM

Wow, excellent image selection and your work looks impeccable. I recently spent a weekend seminar with Greg Zall and double-bevel marquetry. Just love doing it and it’s quiet enough to sit near my wife while she’s knitting.

Thanks for the suggestions on the Woodblock artists.

—Glenn Simpson
An eye for an eye leaves the whole world wishing for safety glasses.

-- Glenn Simpson, Chico CA

View mauibob's profile


257 posts in 4398 days

#14 posted 03-03-2018 12:59 PM

Thanks, Glenn. You’re absolutely right, it’s amazing how therapeutic marquetry is! Have fun with the double bevel technique—it’s the only way I found to create the Hokusai pieces that I have made. For this one, tho, I used a stacked approach and the chevalet—something else to keep you busy with!

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

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