Inlaid Jewelry Box and Marking Gauge for 2020 Surprise Swap

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Project by JohnMcClure posted 03-28-2020 03:32 PM 824 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The 2020 Surprise Swap was amazing – some true works of art came out of it. This one feels a little light weight, and if I participate again I’ll need to up my game.
My contributions went to George (Woodmaster1), a master craftsman with an incredible gallery of projects.
I made a jewelry box, about 9” long, from 12/4 knotty alder. The top has an infinity symbol of purpleheart inlaid, and the box’s shape compliments the symbol. The top fits snugly onto the bottom with a dust lip. Pics don’t show it, but the grain of the top and base have continuity, as though the entire box were crafted from one massive chunk of alder.
The inside is flocked.
Alder was a TERRIBLE wood choice, I’d never used it before and I now know it’s not appropriate for fine finishes because it is so incredibly porous. I put coat after coat of shellac on and finally achieved the gloss I wanted; then packaged the box in plastic; then discovered that some plastics off-gas alcohol (a solvent for shellac) and that the finish was ruined. I repaired the finish but feel that it never regained the glassy-smooth quality I had originally attained.

I made a marking gauge, useful for marking the centerline of boards up to 3.5” wide, or marking offsets from 1-8” to 1-1/4” from the edge, in 1/8” increments. This is accomplished by means of two dowels on the bottom side, and carefully located conical holes from the top side. The top has engravings to mark each hole.
The gauge is made from hard maple.

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

7 comments so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

7462 posts in 1666 days

#1 posted 03-28-2020 04:19 PM

The jewelry box is nice, John. Sorry about the finish, but the photos came out looking good.

The marking gauge / center finder is a clever and useful project. I should steal that idea!

Thanks for being in the swap, and thanks for helping out with my dovetail marking gauges. I’ll be cutting dovetails for all of my bookcases using one of them as soon as I get my shop up and running. I bought over 200 bd ft of pine for the cases, and that’ll only get the job half done. I don’t want to think about how many pins and tails that’s going to add up to.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


2762 posts in 631 days

#2 posted 03-28-2020 06:57 PM

Final result, all that matters. Looks pretty good from where I am sitting, particularly the inlay. Sorry to hear about your finishing woes, but ya live ya learn, all part of the grand game.

I am curious as to why you split the box more less in half? Not critiquing here, but seems to me if the bottom section were deaper, alot more stuff could be kept in the box.

-- WWBBJ: It is better to be interesting and wrong, than boring and right.

View swirt's profile


6197 posts in 4056 days

#3 posted 03-29-2020 02:00 AM

That box is impressive. Nice work on the inlay.

-- Galootish log blog,

View mikeacg's profile


1906 posts in 2141 days

#4 posted 03-29-2020 08:26 AM

The inlay appears to be nice and tight (V-cut or straight sided?). The dust lip is impressive! How thick are the sides of the box?
Never saw a marking tool like that but can see that it would be pretty handy to have in my shop! Another project for my list!!!

-- Mike, A Yooper with a drawl,

View JohnMcClure's profile


1260 posts in 1724 days

#5 posted 03-29-2020 10:50 AM

Thanks all!
Mike, the inlay is straight sided. I broke a box or 2 getting it right. Fair amount of chisel work fitting the corners too.
Sides are about 1/4” thick iirc, maybe 3/8.
Brian, good point. It turned out this way because of the technique I used but its true, deeper bottom and shallower lid is more appropriate.

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

View Woodmaster1's profile


1731 posts in 3671 days

#6 posted 03-29-2020 12:00 PM

I was the proud recipient of the box and marking tool. Thanks John for the awesome swap items.

View HokieKen's profile


17547 posts in 2222 days

#7 posted 03-30-2020 12:53 PM

Great work John. The inlay is flawless in that box! I really like how you did the marking gauge too.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

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