Curly cherry and hackberry gift box

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Project by Dave Polaschek posted 10-23-2018 12:26 AM 1498 views 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I needed a gift for some friends, so I made this box last weekend. It’s hackberry with a curly cherry top, poplar bottom and walnut splines.

I put a groove near the top of the box with a scratch stock, and a couple grooves near the bottom with a Lie-Nielsen #61 beading tool. Also rounded over the edge of the top with the beading tool.

Finish is three coats of platina shellac, plus two coats of Behlens violin varnish on the outside, and two coats of orange shellac on the inside.

The hackberry board was resawn so the left side and the front are continuous grain, and then the book matched grain continues on the right and back.

All hand tools.

When I give it to my friends, it’ll have a half dozen chocolate chip cookies that my sweetie made inside it to sweeten the deal.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

15 comments so far

View Oldtool's profile (online now)


2982 posts in 2992 days

#1 posted 10-23-2018 12:42 AM

Nice box, great mix of contrasting woods.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View ralbuck's profile


6551 posts in 3067 days

#2 posted 10-23-2018 12:47 AM

Very well done.

THAT deal does not NEED sweetener! The box is sweet enough!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View oldrivers's profile


2235 posts in 2368 days

#3 posted 10-23-2018 01:44 AM

Great looking Box. I like the style of the corner splines, Great job.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View Boxguy's profile


2878 posts in 3069 days

#4 posted 10-23-2018 04:41 AM

Dave, nice work. I like the faux dovetail corner splines. Making those by hand took some skill. The wood and finish are beautiful. Visually, I would like the hinges better if they were mitered into the back edges, but your system works well mechanically. This is a wonderful, useful gift for your friend. Thanks for sharing.

-- Big Al in IN

View Tom Regnier's profile

Tom Regnier

455 posts in 3348 days

#5 posted 10-23-2018 06:04 AM

Dave, your hand tool skills are impressive to say the least…how did you manage those splines?

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5621 posts in 1383 days

#6 posted 10-23-2018 10:50 AM

Thanks, guys.

The splines are actually pretty easy to do with hand tools. I just clamp the box at a 45 in my vise, then cut “dovetails” in the corner, removing the waste with a coping saw (I cut them freehand, but they’re more or less 1:4 tails because that’s what I cut). The spline is formed by riving a piece of walnut to approximately the right size, then I use a chisel to pare off little bits of wood until it fits nicely.

In this case, I had the splines pretty short, because I was nearing the end of my scrap of walnut, but normally they’re 2-3” long, and easy to hold in a vise or something while I’m paring them to fit.

Once the glue has dried overnight, I cut them flush with a dozuki, then plane the side of the box flat and do any finish work with the box whole.

Al, I plan to do a better job on the hinges in the future. In this case I was under some time pressure and decided that screwing the hinge onto the outside of the box without mortising it in was the safest and quickest way to a solution. I know I can get a good mechanical fit this way without too much trouble. I just put a business card in between the front of the lid and the box so there’s a tiny gap while I’m putting on the hinge, and then the box will close completely.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View hairy's profile


3084 posts in 4333 days

#7 posted 10-23-2018 11:26 AM

The best part is that you made hackberry look good. You do good work!

-- Genghis Khan and his brother Don, couldn't keep on keeping on...

View ZAGREB's profile


1276 posts in 2451 days

#8 posted 10-23-2018 11:37 AM

very nice

-- bambi

View doubleDD's profile


9528 posts in 2844 days

#9 posted 10-23-2018 12:05 PM

It will make a great gift for someone Dave. You have gone a long way with hand tools and the quality shows.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4141 posts in 3910 days

#10 posted 10-23-2018 12:53 PM

Sweet little box!

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View EarlS's profile


3773 posts in 3149 days

#11 posted 10-23-2018 01:39 PM

Dave – another good looking project you made with nothing but hand tools.

You mentioned hinges. Lately it seems like there have been a number of project using a simple brass pin on each side as the hinge. You should give that approach a try some time.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5621 posts in 1383 days

#12 posted 10-23-2018 04:45 PM

Thanks, folks. I’m happy enough with the brass hinges and know they hold up pretty well. I just wish I’d had time to mortise them into the wood.

I may look at wooden hinges at some point, but I’ve seen seasonal problems with those.

Oh well. There’ll be another box. Or two.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Peteybadboy's profile


2015 posts in 2751 days

#13 posted 10-23-2018 09:17 PM

Nice work Dave!

-- Petey

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5621 posts in 1383 days

#14 posted 10-24-2018 03:28 AM

Thanks, Petey!

They got the box this evening and it was a hit, so mission accomplished.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View therealSteveN's profile


5918 posts in 1375 days

#15 posted 10-26-2018 12:38 PM

When I give it to my friends, it’ll have a half dozen chocolate chip cookies that my sweetie made inside it to sweeten the deal.

- Dave Polaschek

Nice box Dave, and the Cookies just put it into orbit, Way over the top.

Nice job, gonna have to share the “3” with your sweetie though.

Thanks for posting.

-- Think safe, be safe

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