A Jarrah Cube

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Project by madburg posted 08-05-2019 09:29 AM 1457 views 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was my third entry in this years 2019 Out Of The Woods competition at the annual Western Australia Wood Show.

Like my ’Forget me not’ box, it was entered in the small treasure catagory.

It’s style is based on a Japanese bento/lunch box, with several trays inside a lift-off lid.

It is just under 4” / 95mm square. The outer case/lid is made from marine ply, with each outer face veneered with 4 pieces of opposing grain jarrah. The inside is cherry veneer. It has ebony corners with ebony on the visible part of the base. I’ve experimented with the decoration of the case using techniques from Japanese lacquer wear. Having said that I’ve used polyurethane instead of Japanese urushi/lacquer.

On the top I’ve used the make-i technique. The maple design was painted onto the already highly polished polyurethane surface, using more polyurethane on a fine brush. Super fine gold dust is then sprinkled on to the still sticky polyurethane. Once dry the excess gold dust is brushed off and numerous coats of polyurethane are applied to build up enough depth so that it can be sanded level again without cutting into the gold design.

Two of the sides have flower designs using the chinkin technique. Here the design is scratched /engraved into the highly polished polyurethane surface using ‘chisels. Polyurethane is then wiped and brushed into the engraving, the excess is wiped off, and again super fine gold dust is sprinkled on, which sticks to the polyurethane in the ‘scratches’. Once dry the surface is sanded with 2000 grit wet and dry to remove any surplus gold dust. Then numerous coats of polyurethane are applied to fill in what’s left of the scratches and to build up a surface that can be polished.

I’ve started to use micro-mesh sanding discs on a small palm sander to get a lustrous Japanese style lacquer wear finish. I’m going up to 4000 grit with the micro mesh pads and then using diamond cutting paste on a cloth rubbers up to 6000 or 10000, depend on what mood I’m in!!!

Previously on my woodwork project I have sand to 600 grit, then rub down with 0000 steel wool. I then applied furniture wax with a micromesh cloth pad and once dry buffed them with a ‘duster’. This box has no wax polish.

The two interior trays and base use solid jarrah with a pau and gold mother of pearl shell inlay around the tops, capped with ebony. The base is ebony with a lace wood fillet on top and another small ebony fillet around the base of the bottom tray. If the outer case is made a snug piston fit directly with the trays, then as it is lifted the top tray would be pulled off with the air suction. The small fillet around the base of the bottom tray means the outer can be made bigger so air can escape/enter, but it then fits snugly against the fillet when full closed.

Despite the lack of finesse in gold dust designs, this is only the second time I’ve tried the techniques, the box managed 3rd place in the Small Treasure category.

Thanks for looking I hope it might have inspired a few of you to have a go.

-- Madburg WA

10 comments so far

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1137 posts in 3775 days

#1 posted 08-05-2019 10:04 AM

Superb stuff! The design and technique look familiar!

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View swirt's profile


7693 posts in 4435 days

#2 posted 08-05-2019 01:10 PM

Wow! Very nice detail work.

-- Galootish log blog,

View shipwright's profile


8816 posts in 4261 days

#3 posted 08-05-2019 02:00 PM

Three very nice little boxes Martin, all with tricky subtleties hidden under a “simple” cloak.
However, I know what you are capable of so I’m waiting for the grand prize winner that I suspect is coming soon.
Don’t keep us in suspense too long.

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

View PaulDoug's profile


2687 posts in 3166 days

#4 posted 08-05-2019 02:27 PM

Very well done, very beautiful and thanks for explaining how it is done.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View DeLayne Peck's profile

DeLayne Peck

669 posts in 3664 days

#5 posted 08-05-2019 04:11 PM

I love your work. Just amazing.

-- DJ Peck, Lincoln Nebraska. Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.

View pottz's profile


25922 posts in 2447 days

#6 posted 08-05-2019 04:23 PM

beautiful work,congrats on the 3rd place.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View leafherder's profile


2009 posts in 3415 days

#7 posted 08-05-2019 07:55 PM

I’m having trouble imagining what 1st and 2nd place looked like – this one is so beautiful.

-- Leafherder

View Abdulh's profile


2 posts in 1026 days

#8 posted 08-06-2019 08:17 AM

They looks Arabic style like Ali baba theme. Pretty clean and beauticull.

Abdul –

-- Abdul,

View madburg's profile


367 posts in 2306 days

#9 posted 08-07-2019 12:54 PM

Thanks everyone. Always good to get the feedback.

-- Madburg WA

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