Laurel and Nutmeg Box

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Project by splintergroup posted 05-26-2020 01:59 PM 709 views 6 times favorited 29 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This box is another result of wanting to try some new-to-me woods and make something, anything I was getting bored!

Basic Art/Crafts/Craftsman styled box.
The box section is 8”x8”x3”, made with nutmeg.
The lid is laurel and the interior is cherry lined with a leather bottom. Everything else is walnut.

I also added a pair of cherry framed, leather lined trays with simple walnut lift handles.

This box was also an experiment in construction methods.

I hate sanding, especially smoothing a finish where there are lots of corners and other areas that are a real pain to get into.
For the panels I again wanted to try for a glass flat and smooth finish just to say “been there, done that”.

Step one was to do a pore filling job so I tried out some “Aqua Coat” clear filler. It’s water based and you apply it with a stiff plastic spatula to work it into the grain. I used an old credit card. The stuff works in quite well and the faint smell reminds me of all that Elmer’s paste my friends and I would eat in elementary school (mmmmm, paste!)

Three coats seemed to do the trick. I sanded with 320 between applications after a few hours dry time (I used a food dehydrator a set to 120F to help speed this along).

For the finish, my “test” was to finish all the sides as a single unit, then cut them to size. Saves a bunch of time and makes getting the glass finish easier. The worry is chipping the finished edge while cutting. This didn’t happen to my surprise so that saves needing to place the side panel into a dado to hide any defects.

I sprayed Mohawk vinyl sealer and several coats of satin pre-cat over the panels, then sanded flat and smooth with 320. This is where you can see if you got the grain/pore filler everywhere (almost, not 100% for my test).

Next is a sanding with Abrasion pads and mineral spirits (2000 and 4000). Smooth enough! A final polish with Meguiar’s #7, an old favorite for polishing automotive lacquer.

On to the sides!
I placed several rows of masking tape over the surface so I would not scratch the finish while dragging it through the table saw. Cut to size (no chipping!) and onto the router table for box miters.

I mistakenly used the wrong box miter bit (it was cheap and dull), but it worked for my needs. after glueing up the box, I had no plans to apply any top coat finishes anywhere else (only oil), so I applied the splayed walnut corners. Before proceeding here, I covered all the finished surfaces with paste wax (left it on thick) to help protect them from any future glue drips.

Since the glue probably wouldn’t stick to the lacquer, I rabbeted the corners and cut the matching shape in the walnut. Gotta love the box miter blade set for making this cut easy! Enough glue surface tp keep them in place (the top and bottom trim will further lock them down). The best part is I don’t have to prep the lacquered surface and get into those tight corners, It’s already pre-finished and DONE! 8^)

Things go quickly from here, no chipping or other edge goobers to hide so the trim can be a simple butt joint.

Pad style feet, mitered top with a cove cut after assembly and all other corners chamfered.

The trays are made with 1/4” sides and 1/8” dividers (I like to use a standard FTG blade to make the dados). Simple, quick joinery method and with all the dividers they should be strong enough.

A simple walnut handle to assist grabbing, contoured with round-over and core box bits.

I used leather to cover the bottoms, scraps cut from my now replaced comfy chair. It’ll take a while do re-develop a good butt groove in the new chair.

The space at the bottom of the box is maintained with walnut posts.

Watco was applied to all the walnut trim. The normal method of applying, then wiping down worked well since it would not penetrate the lacquered panels. A final waxing of everything and done!

Thanks for dropping in!

29 comments so far

View Bill Huffman's profile

Bill Huffman

235 posts in 2196 days

#1 posted 05-26-2020 02:29 PM

Beautiful! Fantastic color and wood choices!

-- Im so impressed with what people can do, and I wonder how they do it. Thats what keeps me doing it.

View doubleDD's profile


9478 posts in 2820 days

#2 posted 05-26-2020 02:45 PM

This is a great looking box. The results are very satisfying. Some nice looking burl.

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

View BurlyBob's profile


7622 posts in 3042 days

#3 posted 05-26-2020 02:58 PM

Flat out gorgeous!

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24803 posts in 3882 days

#4 posted 05-26-2020 03:16 PM

WOW, that is a beautiful box, Bruce. The wood you used was extraordinary!! Test came out fine!!

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View AandCstyle's profile


3283 posts in 3034 days

#5 posted 05-26-2020 03:29 PM


-- Art

View EarlS's profile


3736 posts in 3125 days

#6 posted 05-26-2020 03:43 PM

You just keep putting more gorgeous boxes out, shaming the rest of us. I’m glad my wife and daughters don’t see them or I would be desperately trying to make something half as nice to keep them happy. Gorgeous, as always!!!

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

View recycle1943's profile


4502 posts in 2399 days

#7 posted 05-26-2020 04:13 PM

well as beautiful as everything is, to me it all pales because my eyes are drawn to the nutmeg and that’s pretty much all I see. It is just mesmerizing.

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View splintergroup's profile


3798 posts in 1999 days

#8 posted 05-26-2020 04:39 PM

Thanks guys!

The nutmeg, well it smells like the spice nutmeg (same tree). I’d be nice to find a way to use the aroma somehow…

You have to like yellow to appreciate something this large (and yellow).

You just keep putting more gorgeous boxes out, shaming the rest of us.
- EarlS

I have a long way to go before that Earl! Plenty of unique boxes I’ll never be able to match (but thanks for the wonderful complement 8^)

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

809 posts in 2069 days

#9 posted 05-26-2020 05:40 PM

Another beautiful build. I like the way you finished it before assembly.

What type of nutmeg is the yellow porous wood inside the farme of the box?
Does all nutmeg look like that?

-- James E McIntyre

View splintergroup's profile


3798 posts in 1999 days

#10 posted 05-26-2020 05:57 PM

Thank you James 8^)

The sides are nutmeg burl which from what little I’ve seen is basically all the same, just some differences in the density of the pores.

The lid is a laurel burl. I tried to show as much of the dark area as possible since I though it was the most interesting, the inside had very little dark area.

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


1682 posts in 324 days

#11 posted 05-26-2020 07:43 PM

Whoa, Bruce, that nutmeg is something special, for sure. I didnt even know you could get nutmeg as dimensioned lumber. How is it price-wise? The laurel is fantastic too. Then, the overall build is quite well done also, bravo.

That lock mitre router bit is 1/2” shank, yes? I want to get one but my big router doesnt take 1/2” bits.

Mmmmm, paste!

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: Because cheese isnt a healthy source of cheese, I will use grated cucumber to top off this raw food vegan pizza.

View Peteybadboy's profile


1966 posts in 2726 days

#12 posted 05-26-2020 09:35 PM

Splinter that is a very cool box. I love the posts in the corners, very cool. Looks like you pushed yourself out of comfort and it worked! Nicely done!

-- Petey

View MrWolfe's profile


900 posts in 900 days

#13 posted 05-26-2020 09:46 PM

Beautiful box Bruce!
Instant classic and gorgeous choice of woods. The nutmeg is gorgeous and it really compliments the walnut. They both really set off that sweet piece of laurel. The cherry and leather are a great combo of materials. Its very cool that you are experimenting with construction methods and materials. I like the test of the pre-finish on the sides. I’ve never done that but I have finished and waxed the inside of some boxes. What a fantastic master class on how to get a glass like finish, its almost seems like its burnished or polished. Your skills and choices of materials really showcase your excellent craftsmanship. Thanks for the pics of the process.
This is a keeper (unless you gift it to a loved one).

View splintergroup's profile


3798 posts in 1999 days

#14 posted 05-26-2020 09:48 PM

Thanks Petey/Brian!

Brian, The nutmeg is just a veneer, although it is much more yellow than usual, I’ve got a few sq.ft.

I had a 1/2” shaft LM bit for doing four sided table legs, it was a tad too big for the 1/2” stock thickness I used here (a yellow Yonico bit, quite cheap but then again I can be quite cheap 8^)

I bought another 1/4” shaft Yonico since the first one did ok on 24” legs, 4 legs, 8 cuts per leg….
This new bit dulled very quickly with some minor cuts in walnut. I had another 1/4” MSLC bit that performs great so far, I wished I had used it, but since the joint is hidden it really didn’t matter that the slight gap was there.

I think I’ll call it a day and have a nice cool tub of paste, they come with that convenient stick to serve it up.

View splintergroup's profile


3798 posts in 1999 days

#15 posted 05-26-2020 09:55 PM

Thank you Jon 8^)

I thought the gain from a total finish just wasn’t worth the effort involved since oil and wax is good-’nuff for a box.

Of course “they” say not to oil the inside of a box or drawer unless you plan on sealing it since it will smell funny forever. I tend to agree with this so I avoid oil on box innards (just wax in this case). Putting on a finish for the inside would have been another nightmare to deal with, I can’t help not at least rubbing a finish down with steel wool.

Nice thing about the leather is the wax came off easily while buffing it all out.

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