English yew veneered box

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Project by RogerBean posted 08-27-2010 07:37 PM 7024 views 9 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This little English yew box was my first attempt at making a veneered box. While not my best, it is my first, and I have a soft spot for it.

The box is small, 8 1/4” x 6 1/4” x 4” H. It is veneered inside and out with an English yew burl. The tray is cherry and lined with blue velvet, as the inside of the base. The boxwood edging is accentuated by the black-white-black lines. There is also a fine line around the inside of the lid and base.

The finish is French polish, brought up to a mirror level. Yew seems to offer a lot of little pits to fill. It takes a while, but French polish has become my favorite box finish. The substrate is baltic birch ply with hidden spline joints. The lock escutcheon is white mother of pearl with an accent line. It’s patterned after an Andrew Crawford design (see to see some marvelous work). I was particularly drawn to the yew veneer, though it turned out to be a difficult and brittle veneer to work with. Lovely, though, when you can find the right piece. I hope to do more in yew.

While veneered boxes are much more time consuming to make than solid boxes, I have been hooked on the limitless possibilities of veneers and matching and embellishment options. This particular box is not matched per-se, but the various sections simply chosen from one large sheet.

Anyway, I was trying out my new light tent and thought I’d share these pics with you. Thanks for looking. Make more boxes!


-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

19 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5510 days

#1 posted 08-27-2010 08:11 PM

If this isn’t your best work, thank you for not embarrassing us any further!

Outstanding details. I hope to achieve such a level of skill and patience one day.

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

View jackass's profile


350 posts in 5004 days

#2 posted 08-27-2010 08:12 PM

That is a beautiful box Roger. The colours go well together, and it is nicely proportioned.

-- Jack Keefe Shediac NB Canada

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4328 days

#3 posted 08-27-2010 08:21 PM

Roger, this is an exquisite box. The finish is, as Autumn said, ‘top notch’. You have really done the wood justice with your patience and skill. Yew, done properly, is a joy to behold. As it is here. The banding and lock escutcheon detail really compliment it as well. Your camera works not bad either.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Spoontaneous's profile


1340 posts in 4621 days

#4 posted 08-27-2010 08:51 PM

I love Yew. That didn’t sound right… I love that wood.. is what I mean to say. The whole box is just really pretty. And I agree with the photography too… what sort of background… or, ‘blackground’.

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

View BillyJ's profile


622 posts in 4494 days

#5 posted 08-27-2010 09:48 PM

Very nice box. I like the wood combo – great choice. Nice finish, too.

-- I've never seen a tree that I wouldn't like to repurpose into a project. I love the smell of wood in the morning - it smells like victory.

View fernandoindia's profile


1081 posts in 4235 days

#6 posted 08-27-2010 10:05 PM

I make mine Charlie´s words:
Outstanding details. I hope to achieve such a level of skill some day.

-- Back home. Fernando

View HorstPeter's profile


121 posts in 4121 days

#7 posted 08-27-2010 10:27 PM

Lovely work and great choice of colors. That yew does really look very nice.

Would you mind sharing some information about your processes? How do you veneer? Regarding the french polishing, do you use pumice to fill the pits and what cloth do you use? What is your setup for cutting the veneer? Hopefully the questions do not annoy you, but I’m always interested to see how other people do things and pick up the one or other trick that might help me to improve my own work.


View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4245 days

#8 posted 08-27-2010 10:54 PM

HorstPeter: Your questions do not annoy me at all. I veneer in a small veneer press from Grizzly, insides can be done when flat, outsides done after glue-up, after separating lid. I use 10% diluted Titebond. Outside must be done with clamps and pad. Curved parts (none on this box) require male and female form. I cut veneer with a scalpel and straight edge with sandpaper glued to back. Matching veneers requires a better edge, and for that use a small jig to hold the veneer tight and clean up the edge with a sandpaper jig. (not too clear, I know, but this is a longer story). When matching, the edges must be perfect.

The French polish process is two or three coats of Liberon spirit sanding sealer, followed with a build up of shellac over a period of two weeks or so. Use cotton sheet cloth, very small rubber. Sanded between coats. No pumice. Careful and thorough sanding schedule is essential. Hope this answers your question.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View jamison00's profile


24 posts in 4832 days

#9 posted 08-27-2010 11:37 PM

Gorgeous man. Is that an inlaid escutcheon? And what is it made from, mother of pearl? Very nice.

-- James

View HorstPeter's profile


121 posts in 4121 days

#10 posted 08-27-2010 11:42 PM

RogerBean: Thank you for your reply, that already helped me. When you are mostly self-taught like me, it always helps to see how others work and what their results are so I know what works and what doesn’t. Often times I try to do things a certain way, but after some frustration and looking at other people work, find out that it’s simply not working that way and it is not really my own fault.


View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 5065 days

#11 posted 08-28-2010 03:01 AM

Exquisite detail and craftsmanship. Beautifully done. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View newTim's profile


625 posts in 4898 days

#12 posted 08-28-2010 07:38 AM

Looks like you used quadrant hinges. I’d be interested in learning more about how you installed them and how well you like them.

Nice boxes.

-- tim hill

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4245 days

#13 posted 08-28-2010 12:19 PM

Thanks all for the kind words.

newTim: these sorts of boxes seem to want a quadrant or side rail hinge. It’s a matter of appearance, but I do prefer them. The side rail hinges, either with a quadrant or machined stop are somewhat easier to install properly. I use the router table, but the stops must be perfect or you quickly get into mischief. Rockler, among others, handle both types. This, being an earlier box uses the standard quadrants. The walnut veneer box (see my projects) is more recent and uses the side rail hinges.

James: yes, the lock escutcheon is mother of pearl.


-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 5384 days

#14 posted 08-28-2010 06:35 PM

Beautiful piece Roger. Wish I wasn’t so afraid of working with veneer. You certainly have mastered it, that’s for sure. Understated elegance. Love it. Thanks for letting us see it.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View bigike's profile


4059 posts in 4580 days

#15 posted 08-28-2010 09:45 PM

very nice looken box

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

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