Boxguy Takes The Rorschach Test

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Project by Boxguy posted 04-25-2012 06:38 AM 3551 views 7 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Story: On a farm nearby a friend was cutting down the remains of a 200 year old maple tree that had reached the end of its days. Time and decay had done in its last remaining live branch. I noticed a large burl on the side of the tree and asked my friend if I could have it. With a roar, he chainsawed it off and as I was loading it in my pickup he scolded, “That’s mighty poor fire wood.” I agreed.

Wood: The spalted maple top of this box is made from that 200-year-old piece of bad firewood. You can clearly see the work of fungus, rot, and time etched in this wood. The sides are made of Boiled Swiss Pear. Swiss Pear is a very fine grained wood much sought after for the finest of furniture. Boiling the log brings out this pink color. It came my way as scrap from a company that builds interiors for executive jets. It is a joy to work, turn, and sand pear wood. The corner splines are ebony salvaged from some old furniture. The tray is walnut with maple splines.

Technique: After two or three years of air drying time, I finally sliced the burl in 3/4 inch slabs and then sanded it flat with my drum sander and worked down the grits to get it really smooth. None of the burl pieces were very large. The top is two book matched sequential slabs glued together to give it a look like a Rorschach Test pattern.

Critique: I don’t often make square boxes, but that is what this wood wanted to be. The client wears a lot of attractive, but clunky jewelry so I needed to have larger than normal sections for jewelry storage. The pink of the pear wood and the black of the ebony do a nice job of bringing out those color tones in the burl top.

As always thanks for looking and a special thanks for commenting.

-- Big Al in IN

23 comments so far

View woodworm's profile


14477 posts in 4874 days

#1 posted 04-25-2012 06:41 AM

The lumber you used and the box you made is just beautiful.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Woodstock's profile


266 posts in 4572 days

#2 posted 04-25-2012 08:11 AM

Very nicely done.

Rorschach Test? Hmm. I see a Festool TS 55 EQ Plunge Cut Circular Saw. But that’s just me… (SMILE)


-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 4309 days

#3 posted 04-25-2012 08:41 AM

Great little box, well saved

-- Dreaming patterns

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30651 posts in 3622 days

#4 posted 04-25-2012 10:19 AM

Very nice looking.

Too many people don’t look beyond fire wood.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View JoeyG's profile


1275 posts in 3909 days

#5 posted 04-25-2012 10:49 AM

On the top of the lid I see a Navel Battleship and on the bottom I see snow capped mountains. What does that say about me, I have no idea, but this isn’t about me. This is about that amazing wood and the wonderful job you did bringing it back to life. I like your choice in miter keys and pear really brings out the spalting.

Amazing job. Sometimes it hip to be square. This is one of those times.

-- JoeyG ~~~

View ellen35's profile


2750 posts in 4716 days

#6 posted 04-25-2012 11:11 AM

Beautiful wood on that box!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4150 days

#7 posted 04-25-2012 11:46 AM

That is a beautiful box and the wood is fabulous.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 4402 days

#8 posted 04-25-2012 12:34 PM

Traditional Beauty and Style, Great job of matching the burl pieces, Square is a good shape, what are the dimentions? This Pear wood looks great and Your Box making craftsmanship and artistic flair is evident in the final project, Great Job, thanks for sharing

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4088 days

#9 posted 04-25-2012 01:17 PM

Another fine fine box

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View abie's profile


927 posts in 5055 days

#10 posted 04-25-2012 02:23 PM

TNX for sharing such a nice box..!!
I like the finger pull in front and would like to know how it was done?

-- Bruce. a mind is like a book it is only useful when open.

View Kookaburra's profile


749 posts in 3508 days

#11 posted 04-25-2012 02:31 PM

Beautiful box – and an excellent story to go with it! I am with you on square boxes, but the proportions here do not cause anquish to my eye as they do for many square boxes! Keeping your eye open for that special chunk of wood really paid off here. How many other boxes will have a chance to be adorned by pieces of this burl?

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4587 days

#12 posted 04-25-2012 03:00 PM

this is a beautiful box, i love the burl wood top and the pear is so warm and inviting..just from the pictures it gives the feel of a warm inviting box, it makes you want to open it and see what is inside…great build here…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View AspiringWoodworker's profile


72 posts in 3589 days

#13 posted 04-25-2012 04:47 PM

mmmmm nice burl, great job!

-- Jeff W., Boston, MA area,

View wishicoulddothat's profile


46 posts in 3526 days

#14 posted 04-25-2012 07:14 PM

I love the way nature works in man made design… Very pretty box!

View Doe's profile


1440 posts in 4114 days

#15 posted 04-25-2012 09:33 PM

Beautifully done. I love the way the pear and splines pick up the colours in the maple – it’s a work of art (I see a really old map). Thanks for posting it.

How is the wood boiled? Does it change anything other than the colour?

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

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