Lotus Box- Mitered box with Compound Curves

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Project by MrWolfe posted 10-13-2019 10:56 PM 1893 views 1 time favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is box number 18 in my box series and box number 4 in my Adventures into Shape (thanks SplinterGroup). I took a few weeks off when I got either bronchitis or wood allergies from making the basic box. (see pic below). A new 3m respirator, a large fan and some more precautions when using powertools are also in place now. Those safety procedures will continue to evolve I am sure.

This box is built from poplar, cedar and the splines are mesquite. I keep trying to push the envelope by thinking “outside of the box” to get some compound curves from these boxes that start out as milled boards. This one is a little different from the others I have recently made in that I’ve added a second species of wood as a band that I was able to shape with chisels and gouges. This allowed some contrast in color as well as added to the overall thickness I was able to pull some curves from. This is a pic of initial box before any carving took place.

That cedar band brought the total thickness of the box I was able to shape to about 1.25 inches. This box has a couple of dimensions, the box itself is 7 1/2” tall x 7 1/2” deep x 10” wide, the shaped feet and the lift off lid with the pull bring it to about 11 1/2” tall x 8 1/2” deep x 12” wide.

The ornamental carving of the lotus flowers was incidental. I tend to build these boxes without much of a sketch or sometimes even much of an idea and I just let them evolve. I suppose that cute librarian I know with the lotus tattoo might have been a bit of an inspiration. I used chisels and gouges to carve much of the form and all of the flower details. I reshaped the bevels on a few dog leg skew chisels and a few spoon gouges to cut at a shallower angle. Sharpening gouges is a bit different from chisels but I think I finally got it.

The lid and the pull were fun, there is a bead that my stanley 45 was able to shape and the pull was glued together out of cut offs from another project. Using two laminated species is interesting to carve or shape, I visually use the different tones to try and keep the form symmetrical and it really helps but I throw absolutes out the window when I am doing these projects. Approximate is good enough for me and “Perfection” is more of that latin definition I’ve mentioned before… more along the lines of “complete” and not necessarily without flaw.

The poplar and cedar, especially where I exposed endgrain, are prone to blotching and different rates of absorption of the oil finish I used. I thought about trying to use a sanding sealer (which I have never used) but instead I just kind of embraced it as part of the hand touched look I was achieving along with approximate symmetry.

Finish is a blend of tung oil, boiled linseed oil, oil based fruitwood stain (minwax), oil based satin poly (varathane) cut with mineral spirits… equal amounts of each. Followed with clear shellac and then Johnson’s paste wax buffed out.

This is the first box I’ve made with felt lined trays for the interior. Thanks Brian for that inspiration.

another pic of the interior…

Well thats about it.
I tend to get a bit impatient and start rushing these boxes if they take too long. That is especially true of the finishes. I’m going to try to slow down a bit when it comes to some of the details.

One last pic because the color of the wood shows up differently in my shop under l.e.d. light.

Alright, Thanks for looking.
I actually haven’t decided if I like this box yet but it was fun.

24 comments so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

10527 posts in 2079 days

#1 posted 10-13-2019 11:17 PM

Nice! I like the way it came out, and the two different woods give a unique look to the carving.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4838 days

#2 posted 10-13-2019 11:21 PM

some fancy dancing on this

very nice

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View pottz's profile


26623 posts in 2482 days

#3 posted 10-14-2019 12:40 AM

that is just beautiful wolfe,nice work jon.

-- 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 MrWolfe's profile (online now)


1980 posts in 1621 days

#4 posted 10-14-2019 12:55 AM

Thanks Dave!
How is your new shop coming along?

Ha Patron! That made me smile because I have two left feet. But yah, fancy dancing!

Pottz, I appreciate the kind words coming from you!

Thanks everyone.

View swirt's profile


7795 posts in 4469 days

#5 posted 10-14-2019 01:24 AM

Pretty amazing carving and contours. Well done.

-- Galootish log blog,

View leafherder's profile


2019 posts in 3449 days

#6 posted 10-14-2019 02:18 AM

Beautiful box, love the bombe style. Thanks for posting.

-- Leafherder

View MrWolfe's profile (online now)


1980 posts in 1621 days

#7 posted 10-14-2019 02:34 AM

Thank you both for the comments.
Leafheader, I knew there was a style for this type of work. Thanks for sharing with me what it is. I kept thinking Occidental or maybe Egyptian, possibly from the lotus motiff. This design just kind of developed as the piece evolved and it was driving me crazy not knowing what it was. Truthfully, maybe it is a bit of all of those and some others thrown in for good measure.

View Boxguy's profile


2905 posts in 3765 days

#8 posted 10-14-2019 03:54 AM

Jon, what a marvel of fantasy and imagination. I am not sure what this box is, but I know it is fun. Thanks for taking time to let us see the process. That really made this posting entertaining. Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View Ivan's profile


17331 posts in 4365 days

#9 posted 10-14-2019 04:09 AM

Wow…outstanding carving and design!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


3308 posts in 1044 days

#10 posted 10-14-2019 08:16 AM

“I havent decided if I like this box” I have that feeling sometimes also, Jon!

Fantasy, was the word my wife used when she saw your box this morning. Thanks for showing the “before” box, so we can be in awe of what you sculpted from it. That you did so with hand tools, all the more remarkable. I particularly like how the curving “crown” detail with the lotus flowers and the curves of the feet are drawn together by the ribbon in the center.

-- WWBBJ: the first to compare a woman´s cheek to a rose was a poet. The second, an idiot. Dali

View Peteybadboy's profile (online now)


4957 posts in 3447 days

#11 posted 10-14-2019 10:45 AM

Now that is different. Great work all around.

-- Petey

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 4164 days

#12 posted 10-14-2019 10:55 AM

Such a interesting design and I love the approach you,took to create this beauty .
Thanks also for the excellent post which was very enjoyable to read .

-- Kiefer

View MontanaBob's profile


875 posts in 4181 days

#13 posted 10-14-2019 11:10 AM

You did some outstanding thinking on the outside of that box…

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

10527 posts in 2079 days

#14 posted 10-14-2019 12:32 PM

How is your new shop coming along?

Can’t pour a slab this year because winter, so it’ll start in March, hopefully. Still haven’t picked a builder, but I think I’ve figured which location will be allowed by the HOA.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View MrWolfe's profile (online now)


1980 posts in 1621 days

#15 posted 10-14-2019 02:31 PM

Thanks for the comments and compliments everyone.

Big Al, I’ve looked in awe at A LOT of your work so your comments really made my morning. I thank you Sir.

You too Ivan, you are making beautiful work everyday so thanks for the kind words.

Brian, thanks again for the inspiration. You keep setting the bar very high!

Petey, thank you sir, this one took a little longer than the others I’ve made and trying to make each one different is part of that process.

Thanks for the kind words Kiefer, writing it up and showing some of the process is fun too. I appreciate your comments.

MontanaBob, I tried!!! Seems like two builds, the initial box and then a whole lot of carving and sanding to make it not look like a box. Thank you.

Dave, that would drive me a little crazy because I’m used to being in my shop now. You’ve got some great hand tools and that knife you and MaFe made so maybe some smaller hand projects is in order for a while. Good to “hear” from you.

Thanks everyone, I may submit this box and one other for an annual art show at the downtown library in December.
No sales but it is nice to get them out and see the reactions at the openings.


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