Shaped Front Walnut Burl Man-Box

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Project by RogerBean posted 02-21-2011 09:07 PM 7146 views 34 times favorited 54 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This box is for a friend in London who has been gracious in hosting my wife and I, so I decided to make him a box. The idea is to make a box for a man, instead of a jewelry box for a woman. The compartments are sized more for a man. While not a period piece per se, it is intended to speak to work of the various Federal Period furniture makers. It is 7 1/2” x 9” x 4” high.

A number of things here are a bit different. Most obvious, is the shaped front. The design is influenced by the colonial knife boxes of the 18th century. These had lovely curvaceous fronts that I’ve admired for a long time. But, I’ve not seen it elsewhere. So why not do something similar in a regular box? I think I finally found something Andrew Crawford ( has not done before! :-))

The substrate is Baltic birch ply. The front is shaped from MDF. It is veneered in walnut burl. The lid is a four-way book match. The sides are cut from four sequential sheets, to be nearly identical. The edging is boxwood. I also wanted to try an applied carving on a box. This one is a carved (chisel) scallop shell in figured claro walnut; a cutoff from a very nice gun stock blank.

The cocobolo trays have larger divisions sized for things men typically keep. They get progressively larger as one proceeds downward.

The interior is lined with a dark green leather. Some of the old English boxes of the 18th and 19th centuries included a “document compartment” in the lid. I included one in this box. The embroidered monogram was done by a local embroidery firm. As I probably mentioned in earlier posts, I like the interior to be at least as important as the outside of a box. To open a box and find… nothing… is disappointing. So, I try to surprise, not disappoint.

The hinges are the gold plated machined brass units from The full-mortise lock and brass escutcheon are from

The finish is French polish. It takes a couple weeks to complete properly, but it’s worth the effort to get the perfectly clear, glass smooth finish. The color is natural.

Folks often ask how many hours it takes to make a box like this. I don’t really keep close count, but it’s probably well over a hundred hours in the shop, plus quite a few in the “thinking” stages. It’s not a project to knock out over a weekend.

I make a few solid wood boxes, but it’s the veneered boxes that really interest me. The combinations, the matching, the decoration, all provide limitless possibilities and challenges. On this box, fitting the face lines and edges to the tight curves were the most difficult, and it took a while to figure out the document compartment. I was curious how many separate “parts” were in this box. I counted to 196, but probably missed a few.

Thanks for looking in.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

54 comments so far

View CJay's profile


133 posts in 4239 days

#1 posted 02-21-2011 09:23 PM

Amazing, love the draw linings. Are those the Andrew Crawford smart hinges?

PS. thanks again for the book recomendations. They arrived today, can’t wait to try some.

-- Chris Boreham, Oxfordshire, UK - -

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 4133 days

#2 posted 02-21-2011 09:30 PM



View shipwright's profile


8678 posts in 3806 days

#3 posted 02-21-2011 09:37 PM

Really, Really Nice Roger.

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

View fernandoindia's profile


1081 posts in 3951 days

#4 posted 02-21-2011 09:44 PM

gorgeous, estupendo,

thanks for posting

-- Back home. Fernando

View bibb's profile


332 posts in 4539 days

#5 posted 02-21-2011 09:57 PM

Roger, that is great workmanship, design and execution. I see I have a long way to go before I will be considered a box maker. But hey, the journey is half the fun!
cheers and thanks for the Andrew Crawford info. I want to try some of those hinges.

-- you may only live once, but if you do it right that's all you need

View peteg's profile


4436 posts in 3831 days

#6 posted 02-21-2011 10:02 PM

Wow we have some very tallented box makers in LJ’s, this one is right up there with them, great job Roger

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 4058 days

#7 posted 02-21-2011 10:04 PM

MArvelous, inspiring. Do you work w/ a vacuum press?

View wasmithee's profile


58 posts in 3701 days

#8 posted 02-21-2011 10:07 PM

Very nice.

View jbschutz's profile


610 posts in 3699 days

#9 posted 02-21-2011 10:10 PM

Incredibly beautiful, Roger. You have shown us something to which we may aspire. The attention to detail and the craftsmanship are amazing. The design, the choice of veneer, the monogram, every thing about this box makes me think old-world master. Congratulations!

-- jbschutz

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 3961 days

#10 posted 02-21-2011 10:42 PM

The hinges are not Andrew’s new “SmartHinges”. Unfortunately, they are not available here in the US yet. But I plan to fill my pockets with them when I see him in May. I’m anxious to give them a try.

I do not use a vacuum press. The sides of the box are veneered after the lid is severed so as not to get a veneer mismatch from removing the 1/8th inch cut. Hence each individual piece, ten pieces for the four sides in this case, are done with clamps and forms, one at a time. For flat pieces I use a little Grizzly press ($62) that works great up to about 12” x 18”. For small work, this approach is quite efficient.


-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View David Drummond's profile

David Drummond

98 posts in 3673 days

#11 posted 02-21-2011 11:12 PM

Incredible… I can only imagine the time and and amount of thinking required on this project. I would like to learn more about veneering. Any tips on techniques, resources or required tools?

-- "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do... Explore, Dream, Discover” Mark Twain

View Monty Queen's profile

Monty Queen

1595 posts in 4260 days

#12 posted 02-21-2011 11:18 PM

Roger, Wow your boxes are awesome, one of the best boxes i have seen on this sight. I have never worked with veneer before. One day i will try to make a box using veneer. Great craftsmanship.

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 4296 days

#13 posted 02-21-2011 11:22 PM

dam RB another very exquisite piece, nice work.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4996 days

#14 posted 02-21-2011 11:33 PM

That’s a great looking box! Excellent job.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5254 days

#15 posted 02-21-2011 11:37 PM

Gorgeous box, I love the veneer and inlay. Great art.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

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