Watch Box

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Project by bh1710 posted 08-12-2018 12:22 PM 1434 views 5 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My first project in the shop that doesn’t involve plywood- a watch box for my son. Walnut and Spalted Maple with Padauk splines and inlay. Shellac finish. The splines don’t show up very well in the photos but the orange against the walnut is really nice. Each wood catches the light differently so the splines show up or receed depending on the angle of view. At first I was disappointed that the splines didn’t have more contrast but now I really like the subtlety of the effect. The watch pillows have the same Paduak and Walnut mix and turned out really nice.

I have a confession, a helpful discovery and a request for help…

1. Confession- I was really excited as this project unfolded and I dimensioned my wood. I started with a 8/4 board that was already pretty straight. I jointed and planed it and fondled this beautiful block of straight wood. I re-sawed to get the sides- 1/2”. As I was cutting the miters on the sides I noticed a slight cupping going on. I was sort of distraught and thought I should start over but I was already well into it and wouldn’t be able to get back out to the store for a few days and kept going. Long story short- the miters on this box are perfect. Somehow, the cupping on each side must be exactly the same and they fit together perfectly. There is a slight pincushioning. Noone notices it until I point it out.

2. Helpful discovery. I came up with a very helpful workbench armature. I found myself dry-fitting and taking apart these pieces often to check things and got tired of having to hold everything together while getting the strap clamp in place. I attached 3 strips of MDF to the workbench when I had it dry-fitted and it made for a really good “project holder”. I could slide the pieces in and out of this armature and check things very easily.

3. Request for help- I shipped this to my son in California. It arrived in good condition but after 1 week in UPS trucks the drawer won’t open. It appears that the shellac on the insides of the miters has stuck. I’ve attached some images that show what I’m talking about so you can see the construction. It’s the back of the drawer (mitered) that fits against the miter of the side piece that’s stuck.. and the two sides that are now stuck. Shellac to Shellac. Any suggestions for getting this unstuck?

17 comments so far

View Richard Lee's profile

Richard Lee

270 posts in 1409 days

#1 posted 08-12-2018 01:33 PM

Nice job on the box.
Only thing I can think of for loosening the Shellac is maybe changing the humidity and temp of the box.Maybe stick in the freezer for a while.
Or possibly blasting some air inside.
I cant tell but can you access the bottom of the drawer from the bottom?

View Joe's profile


525 posts in 1720 days

#2 posted 08-12-2018 04:02 PM

You did a fantastic job on your watch box. Very clever design and the contrasting woods make it look even better. Your finish is top notch too. Thanks for inspiring

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

View drewpy's profile


991 posts in 1991 days

#3 posted 08-12-2018 04:51 PM

very nice. thanks for sharing.

-- Drew -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View OG51's profile


157 posts in 745 days

#4 posted 08-12-2018 07:18 PM

Love it. I might have to build me one of those. Beautiful piece.

I don’t normally use shellac but good luck. I would say alcohol but it would strip all the surrounding area as well.

View Richard's profile


11309 posts in 3666 days

#5 posted 08-12-2018 08:16 PM

Very Nice Indeed & Well Done!

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View GROOVY56's profile


51 posts in 2553 days

#6 posted 08-12-2018 08:52 PM

how did you make those awesome oval pieces that hold watches?

View bh1710's profile


20 posts in 1121 days

#7 posted 08-12-2018 09:47 PM


Thanks for asking.

I made a template from a rough board. Then I sandwiched and glued 2 1/8” Paduak boards with 3 Walnut boards and cut smaller 2”x3” pieces. I used the template to trace and cut the rough shape on the bandsaw then sanded them down to final shape. I put a small chamfer on each edge and finished with the same Lacquer as the box.

I really love how the two woods change as you turn them 360 degrees.

View SenecaWoodArt's profile


465 posts in 2253 days

#8 posted 08-12-2018 09:59 PM

Very nice project and contrast of wood. My suggestion to your problem is as follows. I believe heat caused your problem and heat can resolve the issue. If this were my project, I would “gently” take a heat gun to the stuck parts and work them loose. Next, I would then coat the entire shellac finish with rattle can Deft lacquer. Lacquer and Shellac work well together and lacquer drys much faster. You should not see the same sticking effects from lacquer that you do with shellac. Now, don’t get me wrong, shellac is a good finish and will dry with time. Again, this is my solution and how I would resolve the issue.

-- Bob

View therealSteveN's profile


4877 posts in 1208 days

#9 posted 08-12-2018 10:08 PM

Wonderful box, love that Spalt on top. Awesome as you say first hardwood piece, nice venture out.

You mentioned your finish was Shellac. It is perhaps the easiest of the finishes to work with, or repair. A dab of moisture, and low controlled heat will allow it to let go. A bit of Denatured Alcohol is what you mix it in to make it, it also is the agent that will dissolve it in large quantities, and loosen in smaller ones.

Once it is out attention must be taken if the back side, top of the box sides, or bottoms are wet at all. It must be allowed to thoroughly dry, and when it is, a light sanding to knock down any raised edges. I would either use poly that dries hard and stays hard, or more likely just wax, and buff it down real well on the interior parts.. The Shellac can be prone to sticking parts like you have found out.

On your miter, did it actually change right after you cut it, or perhaps did the piece move just a schooch and create what folks call creep? If so you lucked out that the pieces joined well. Generally they are just miss matched junk. If it cupped after the only reason I can think of is it had a slight change in the moisture level of the wood, but I think you would have already seen that when you resawed it. If it is creep, the answer to that is firmly holding, or clamping as you make any miter cut. What happens is the blade cutting on a bias tries to slightly grab and pull the wood, which makes a scooped looking cut. Hold the wood so it cannot move at all, and you get crisp cuts, PROVIDED your blade is sharp, and is a good fit for crosscuts. Heck as specialized as blades are getting they probably have one for crosscutting miters.

Your jig made the work easier. I have long used aids to hold a 90 while my 2 hands did something else. There are as many jigs, and items you can buy for this as there are minutes in a year. A couple of my favorites, because you can use them on a lot of projects, rather than just one size are below.

One of WoodSmiths best freebies

Basic corner clamp helpers.

Just a triangular shape, must make a dead 90 angle, but then they help you clamp up.

And that third hand you always wanted.

-- Think safe, be safe

View KimAccurso's profile


511 posts in 774 days

#10 posted 08-12-2018 10:43 PM

What a beautiful box and I do like the wood selections too! The subtle contrast is very nice. And – what a GREAT idea for the watch pillows! I have always wanted to do a watch box but am NO seamstress and could never imagine trying to make fancy velvety pillows myself. These are much better suited for a man, too. As for the style of box, with the drawer sliding from the miters – I have thought of attempting this but haven’t – was there a plan you followed for this box?

It’s a great box, beautiful work and am sure your son loves it – stuck shellac or not :) I bet the change in heat and humidity did it too. I’ve used it a few times and had a drawer stick once but luckily it had just been a short time and I was able to wiggle it loose. Agree with the advice to finish off with poly or laquer next time.

-- Kim - imperfection is the pursuit of perfection

View leafherder's profile


1899 posts in 2586 days

#11 posted 08-12-2018 11:21 PM

Beautiful box, and I like the idea of the wooden pillows that match, although I worry that the metal parts of the watches will scratch the wood. I worked in a fine jewelry store for 10 years and we always had customers asking where they could get a nice box for their collection of fine watches (we could special order them but they were mass produced fake leather things that looked really cheap.) Thanks for posting.

-- Leafherder

View bh1710's profile


20 posts in 1121 days

#12 posted 08-13-2018 12:45 AM

On your miter, did it actually change right after you cut it, or perhaps did the piece move just a schooch and create what folks call creep?

- therealSteveN


The cup happened after planing but before cutting the miters. I noticed it when I had a piece lying flat on the cast-iron table saw… table. I used my miter gauge to keep all of the pieces at 90 degrees and only used the fence as a reference. After they all fit together so well I assumed that since all pieces stayed perpendicular to the blade the miters were all true.


View bh1710's profile


20 posts in 1121 days

#13 posted 08-13-2018 12:52 AM

As for the style of box, with the drawer sliding from the miters – I have thought of attempting this but haven t – was there a plan you followed for this box?

- KimAccurso


I found a few boxes on line that my son and I agreed on as a basic design and then I did the actual design myself in Sketchup with my modifications.

I’ve used Sketchup on all of my projects and find it really useful on many levels. For this project it was really useful to be able to make various pieces “invisible” and confirm a lot of measurements.


View Charlie H.'s profile

Charlie H.

400 posts in 1284 days

#14 posted 08-13-2018 08:58 PM

This is a very nice piece.

-- Regards, Charlie in Rowlett, TX --------I talk to myself, because sometimes I need expert advice.---------

View bh1710's profile


20 posts in 1121 days

#15 posted 08-14-2018 10:23 PM

Following up on my problem with the sticking drawer. Several people have recommended the freezer approach so that’s where we started. 3 hours in a freezer did the trick! Drawer is open and al is well.

Thanks to all who offered advice on this problem as well as suggestions for future work with Shellac.


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