English Yew Document Box

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Project by RogerBean posted 10-07-2011 02:05 PM 5591 views 12 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This box is a bit of a departure from the complex shaped boxes I’ve posted recently. My wife wanted a box to hold the clutter of miscellaneous papers that tend to accumulate next to her laptop in our living room.

This 9” x 13” x 2 1/2” box is relatively straightforward, and she specifically wanted it made of pippy yew. I really love yew, but it’s a brittle and difficult veneer to work. Quality figured yew veneer is also pretty scarce here in the U.S., so I consider myself fortunate to have found about 45 small 5×8 sheets that were appropriate. Enough for a couple more boxes.

The lid is a four-way book-match on both the inside and outside. The sides are a two-way match. These sheets needed to be flattened anyway, so I liberally applied softener to soften and flatten the veneer prior to matching. The substrate is Baltic ply. The edging is boxwood, bordered with a black/black/pear/black line inlay.

Because of the size of the lid I chose to hinge it with a pair of Andrew Crawford’s gorgeous SmartHinges. They install beautifully and look superb. I used this box for my LJ review of these hinges. See They are a delight to install and have become my favorites.

By the way, Andrew has recently posted an excellent video about installing these hinges at

For most boxes these days, a lock is superfluous, but, as “box jewelry” I always prefer to include one. Originally, locks were there to protect the contents (tea, spices, liquor, etc.) from the servants, not from burglars. This half mortise lock and small brass escutcheon are from I polished the lock and screws to match the hinges. The lid has a banding of figured Asian satinwood bordered with a black/white/black line. The line continues around the lid/base edges as well. The lid veneer is laid out to place the more open portion in the center to frame the satinwood fan inlay.

On the underside of the lid the same banding frames a veneer layout that places the figured portion in the center. I also used this box to review Andrew Crawford’s corner inlay chisel jig. See In that review I demonstrated the method used to do these inlays.

The interior is green pig suede. Because it will hold papers, there is no need for trays or dividers. The ribbon lift allows the papers to be easily lifted for access.

I generally avoid bases and feet, but this box seemed to need a stronger stance at the bottom, so I added a low base of cherry to supplement the low, flat shape. The underside is veneered with quarter cut cherry. The finish is French polish.

Anyway, I’m still clunkin’ along, trying to make the best box I can. Thanks for looking in.


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

23 comments so far

View smartBoxmaker's profile


54 posts in 3940 days

#1 posted 10-07-2011 02:26 PM

Lovely box, Roger. Very nice choice of the pippy yew – so much better with some less pippy bits as well, the flame in the centre of the leaves gives the lid great movement, inside and out. Using denser, more even pippy or burry stuff it’s easy to lose the point of the bookmatch.

And lower, shallower boxes do indeed work better with a base/plinth as in this case – looks good to me. And I ike the idea of the ribbon – very practical addition.

Many thanks for the plug for the hinges and corner jig. Oh, and you should really be careful about saying to all LJ readers: ‘I really love yew” – yew might get some responses yew’re not expecting.

Andrew C.

-- Andrew Crawford, Shropshire, UK.

View SPHinTampa's profile


567 posts in 4976 days

#2 posted 10-07-2011 02:41 PM

Amazing work

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4327 days

#3 posted 10-07-2011 02:45 PM

A beautiful box, Roger. I agree with Andrew on the book-matching . Like the plinth also. Now I wonder where I’ve seen that idea, only joking. As for strange replies, aren’t yew yewsed to theses by now?

Joking aside a nice lift to the day seeing this box. Well done and keep posting them.

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

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5509 days

#4 posted 10-07-2011 03:07 PM

Another spectacular offering, Roger. And thanks for the link to Andrew’s hinge installation video. Do you know if there are any plans to make those SmartHinges available in the U.S.?

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Bertha's profile


13624 posts in 3984 days

#5 posted 10-07-2011 03:09 PM

Holy mother of nature, that’s wonderful. To think I have a “clutter” box of my own. You have officially raised the clutter bar. The matching is masterful. The dimensions are grand.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View CiscoKid's profile


362 posts in 4164 days

#6 posted 10-07-2011 03:11 PM

Absolutely brilliant work again, Roger. You are truly an artist.

Saw an ad for the smart hinges in the new edition of Fine Woodworking magazine.

-- Al, Culpeper VA

View shipwright's profile


8761 posts in 4088 days

#7 posted 10-07-2011 03:15 PM

This would be an extravagant highly detailed box for many of us Roger, but coming from you I would call it “tasteful understatement”.

Your wife is indeed a lucky lady to have such a bit of perfection in which to keep her “clutter”.

It is simply elegant. Thanks once again for the inspiration.

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

View Gary's profile (online now)


9422 posts in 4723 days

#8 posted 10-07-2011 03:24 PM

So beautiful. Thanks for such a great post.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Billp's profile


804 posts in 5490 days

#9 posted 10-07-2011 03:29 PM

As always, excellent.

-- Billp

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 3792 days

#10 posted 10-07-2011 03:55 PM

I’m with Shipwright – your wife is fortunate to have such a beautifully made box. Nothing I could make would even approach that level of detail and skill. It’s superb.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4599 days

#11 posted 10-07-2011 04:08 PM

Your work is always outstanding and impressive Roger. I would say that as you clunk along you do some mitey fine clunkin’. The green pig suede really adds a nice touch to the beautiful wood.

View Ian Hawthorne's profile

Ian Hawthorne

297 posts in 3939 days

#12 posted 10-07-2011 04:51 PM

Great looking box Roger – I agree with Greg mighty fine clunking.



-- Worlds Best Box Hardware!

View larryw's profile


335 posts in 3952 days

#13 posted 10-07-2011 05:18 PM

Beautifully and tastfully made roger.

-- "everything is beautiful, but not everyone sees it" ~confucius-551-449 b.c.~

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4244 days

#14 posted 10-07-2011 08:05 PM

Andrew and Martyn: Oh, my goodness. I must be more careful around Englishmen who are more clever than I. Charlie: I just order them on line from his website at They arrive in four or five days. Bertha: It’s self defense, really. My wife has a greater appreciation for clutter than I do. Paul: My wife is not nearly as impressed with me as the box might imply. :-) Cisco Kid: Yes indeed. I noticed the Doug Stowe review of the hinges in the new FWW.

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

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 5192 days

#15 posted 10-07-2011 10:38 PM

Absolutely exquisite! Thanks for bringing Andrew’s lovely hinges to our attention.

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

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