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Project by Triumph1 posted 10-03-2011 08:18 PM 5845 views 34 times favorited 56 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It’s hard to even pick a starting point to talk about “Talon”. It is a commissioned box for a very patient gentleman. When starting a box I ask questions about colors, interests, what is it holding, etc. This was designed to be a men’s jewelry box. The answer given to the interests question was Griffins. For all that do not know a Griffin is a mythical animal that is half Eagle and half Lion. Okay…I had my work cut out for me…but I love the challenge! Concept wise I was going for the top to have the attributes of an eagle and the base I wanted the curved look of a lions claw or teeth.

The body of “Talon” is constructed of Wenge. While still in its square form I placed in all the handmade dowels (made of maple), milled the pockets for the back hinge plates and milled the pockets for the feet. The dowels are three different sizes and follow the curve of the box. The back hinge plates were needed since once I shaped the body I needed a flat surface to mount the back hinge to. Once the pockets were milled I made an insert that fit perfectly into the space. I did this by using a handmade fixture to first mill the pocket and then use the same fixture to create the insert. To shape the body I used a combination of a belt sander and a handplane. I made a template out of 1/8” hardboard that I could hold up to the box to see my progress in shaping it.

The feet are made from Birdseye Maple with a piece of Rosewood veneer separating them. The Rosewood veneer draws the eye all the way to the tip of the foot. It took three fixtures to make the feet and mill the pockets in the main body but I wanted the look of feet being part of the body design and not just added on. It took allot of time but I love the way it looks.

The main part of the lid is made from Wenge also. I used a sliding dovetail joint to construct it. The floating panel was made from a glue up of Birdseye Maple. From the outside it is impossible to tell it was a glue up. Not wanting it to be a normal floating panel I also made a fixture and dished out the inside. I then used a block plane to curve the outside edge. The beak is made from a piece of Birdseye maple. There are two dowels that hold it to the lid. The nostrils are actually handmade 1/8” Gaboon Ebony dowels. The hard part about them was I had to drill and insert the dowels before I started carving. To do this I have mathematically layout all the angles and set up the drill press correctly so that when I went to carve the beak the nostrils would be in the correct position. I actually had to cut flat spots with a chisel first since it was at such an extreme angle.

The hinges…what a labor of love they were. I now know why people carve things out of bass wood:-) The hinges are carved out of rock hard Birdseye Maple. I started the design of them by getting a copy of “The Illustrated Bald Eagle” by Denny Rogers. Amazing book for anyone interested in doing anything artistically based on a Bald Eagle. I carved them to be as realistic as possible….carving even the bottoms even though they would be hard to see. I knew from the start I wanted the talons to be made from Gaboon Ebony so I had to devise a way to attach them. in the end I used a .093” diameter brass rod and epoxy in each talon. To make it look even more alive I had the talons touch down on different surfaces of the lid…the top, side and floating panel. Each talon started on a scroll saw and was then hand craved to fit the individual “toes”. Next was coming up with a way to pivot the hinges but also make it serviceable. I used a removable dowel pin for the pivot. I made Gaboon Ebony end plugs that contain rare earth magnets so they are naturally attracted to the dowel pin…it works great. There are three positioning dowels in each section of the hinge. This lines everything up and makes it possible to only use one attachment screw if needed.

The trays and cufflink area are made from quartersawn Sycamore. I just love the snakeskin appearance it gives. The trays where constructed using a box joint and every single divider has two dowel pins strengthening the joints. The top tray was designed to hold bracelets in either a folded or round configuration. The middle tray was designed to hold rings. It also has a covered area for holding something special. The lid is made from Leopard Wood. The holes to grab it were designed/carved to look like an eagle talon had scraped and pierced down into it. The bottom is the cufflink area. It can hold 24 pairs of cufflinks. I used two different densities of foam to make them. All trays where lined with a blue/gray suede fabric.

All together it was a five month build totaling around 300 hours. Overall dimensions are 14” x 13.25” 10.25”. Finish is Danish oil and wax and also the Beall three step polishing system on the talons.

A big thanks goes to Bell Forest Products picking me out some beautiful Birdseye Maple that was destined to be a hi-end guitar neck and Joel Alonzo for once again taking some beautiful pictures.

Well enjoy and keep making that sawdust! Comments and critiques are welcome. Sorry for the wordiness again…I just love talking about this one!

For a look at another very inspirational eagle design check out Little Paws Valentine Feather Box

-- Jeff , Wisconsin Please...can I stay in the basement a little longer, please!

56 comments so far

View yrob's profile


340 posts in 4431 days

#1 posted 10-03-2011 08:25 PM

That is an incredible piece of work. The design is brilliant and execution flawless. Not much else I can comment about, I am speechless and it is out of the league of the vast majority of people to design and even build something liike that.

-- Yves

View Mark Blomster's profile

Mark Blomster

107 posts in 3764 days

#2 posted 10-03-2011 08:43 PM

Amazing creativity and craftsmanship. That is a stunning piece!

View sgtq's profile


370 posts in 3455 days

#3 posted 10-03-2011 08:50 PM

This is truly unbelievable, I am quite amazed, beautiful job.

-- There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. ~William J. Clinton

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3797 days

#4 posted 10-03-2011 09:01 PM

Whoaaa! Absolutely incredible! I guess the guy was more than pleased? Wow…......

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View SPalm's profile


5336 posts in 4661 days

#5 posted 10-03-2011 09:04 PM

Holy Schmole!
That is just incredible.
And the write up was a joy to read. Thanks.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View shipwright's profile


8562 posts in 3577 days

#6 posted 10-03-2011 09:35 PM

Really nice work Jeff. I’m a sucker for innovative wooden hinges and these are very different indeed.
The colors and contrast are great and the attention to detail is impressive.
Don’t worry about the write up. It’s an important part of the post and I’m with Steve, joy to read.

Applause !!

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

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3815 days

#7 posted 10-03-2011 09:55 PM

Top class design and build, as always, Jeff. You’ve obviously got more patience with Wenge than I. Though I must agree with you on the Sycamore. Beautiful when quarter sawn. I love the box shape and proportions and especially the little touch with the different sized dowels. The beak and the feet/hinges are growing on me. One heck of a job carving those in Maple.
Thanks for posting

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3699 days

#8 posted 10-03-2011 09:55 PM

Beautiful piece, Jeff!!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4087 days

#9 posted 10-03-2011 10:03 PM

Jeff, that is really an outstanding and creatively detailed box. It is easy to see how you spent 300 hours building it.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4653 days

#10 posted 10-03-2011 10:08 PM

Totally Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick.

As always, fun to watch the progress. Thanks for the eye candy, Amazing job.

-- Happy woodworking!

View gbear's profile


531 posts in 4878 days

#11 posted 10-03-2011 10:12 PM

Wow…awesome piece!

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View plastercat's profile


36 posts in 3421 days

#12 posted 10-03-2011 10:26 PM

speechless, i wish i had half your imagination and ability great work!

View tsangell's profile


216 posts in 3472 days

#13 posted 10-03-2011 11:00 PM

This is wild and ridiculous and I love it. The basic shape of the box is very nice.

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14182 posts in 4762 days

#14 posted 10-03-2011 11:18 PM

NEAT ! a totally unique box … never saw one like it in my life!

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 4275 days

#15 posted 10-03-2011 11:20 PM

You never cease to amaze me Jeff….. this is so far over the top and so incredible!!!
I have been an eagle fanatic for many years after watching them in Alaska, so this truly does appeal to me.
I am going to check out that book you referenced….

Again, this is just fantastic work once again, thanks for sharing it with us!
I think they need to come out with another book of “400 boxes” so this can be in it !

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

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