Civil War Era Shaving Box

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Project by Lenny posted 03-11-2018 07:21 PM 1978 views 2 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a Civil War era shaving box. It appeared on the cover of the June 2014 issue of Woodworker’s Journal. As I often do, I recently plucked the magazine from my stash to re-read. It’s funny how an item can be of no interest to you initially but of keen interest the next time you look at it. I decided to make the shaving box as a gift to a good friend (Paul) who will appreciate it. Paul is also a woodworker and fellow Lumberjock (Harleysofttaildeuce).
Like the author of the article (A.J. Hamler), I made this from black walnut. When I resawed a length of 5/4 stock, I was amazed at the figure and interesting bookmatch achieved (see photo). At first I thought of saving the walnut for a more appropriate piece, i.e., one where the whole bookmatched panel would be front and center. Then I thought, what will that be and how long will it take to come up with the project, etc. So, while some of the beautiful wood is on the bottom of this project, I’m glad I decided to use it now.
The box measures out at 9” long by 7” wide by 3” tall. When the lid is lifted, a mirror is displayed. The mirror frame is 5-3/4” by 7”. The author used rabbet joinery for the box but suggested that dovetails would be appropriate and I went with the latter. Except for the tiny hinge screws, the hardware is period correct (slotted brass).
Hamler suggested that shellac would likely be the finish of choice so I sprayed on several coats. To add a level of durability and protection, I added several coats of satin spray lacquer and finished it off with a coat of Howard’s Feed-n-wax. The irony of presenting this to a bearded friend is not lost on me! When I told Paul I wanted to take a photo of him with the box, he opted to include a suit of armor.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

15 comments so far

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1103 days

#1 posted 03-11-2018 07:41 PM

Very nice, Lenny. Great job matching up the walnut. Kudos!

View wcp's profile


156 posts in 1054 days

#2 posted 03-11-2018 07:47 PM

That is a beautifully done project. The figure on the bookmatched piece is incredible.


View Woodenwizard's profile


1357 posts in 3498 days

#3 posted 03-11-2018 08:19 PM

Outstanding. I love this project. The dovetails look great and the book match really adds that pizazz. I am sure the gift will be treasured.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3322 days

#4 posted 03-11-2018 09:00 PM

You did a beautiful job on this piece.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Rxmpo's profile


269 posts in 4200 days

#5 posted 03-11-2018 09:11 PM

Really banging out some stunning work Lenny. Making some of us look bad!!! :)

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


117692 posts in 4032 days

#6 posted 03-11-2018 09:18 PM

Very cool and a unique project.

View Joe's profile


516 posts in 1542 days

#7 posted 03-11-2018 09:20 PM

Great Project, and I sure agree with you some projects have to smolder for awhile.

-- CurleyJoe, "You only learn from your mistakes"

View tyvekboy's profile


1917 posts in 3468 days

#8 posted 03-11-2018 09:33 PM

Beautiful project. Thanks for sharing.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View swirt's profile


4072 posts in 3427 days

#9 posted 03-12-2018 01:45 AM

Nice work Lenny. Well done on the bookmatching. Looks amazing.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Lenny's profile


1638 posts in 3982 days

#10 posted 03-12-2018 02:11 AM

Thank you for the comments everyone.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Karson's profile


35194 posts in 4856 days

#11 posted 03-12-2018 02:18 AM

Lenny A great looking project. But whats that brush for?

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View ohwoodeye's profile


2209 posts in 3608 days

#12 posted 03-12-2018 11:22 AM

The 5th picture looks like an X-Ray of my lungs.

-- "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 Mean_Dean's profile


6979 posts in 3602 days

#13 posted 03-13-2018 05:51 PM

That’s a great looking shaving box! The walnut is beautiful, and I like the bookmatched panels! I’m sure he’ll will really appreciate it!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View Diggerjacks's profile


2307 posts in 3594 days

#14 posted 03-13-2018 07:29 PM

Hello Lenny

What a so beautiful idea

I love it
You make fantastic work

Thanks for sharing

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

View Lenny's profile


1638 posts in 3982 days

#15 posted 03-13-2018 09:11 PM

Thanks again folks.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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