Rosewood Fountain Pen Box

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Project by RogerBean posted 06-26-2012 09:32 PM 12333 views 26 times favorited 41 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This box was made to store a dozen fountain pens. I’m still experimenting with new box shapes, and in this case it’s the lid that’s shaped rather than the front. The shape is similar to an 1820 English tea caddy I saw once. The lid becomes the focal point of the box. I also wanted to try cross-banding veneer on a box… and in a curved shape.

The box is 11 1/2” by 7 1/2” by 3 3/8” high. It holds 12 pens, with space for two bottles (different colors) of ink. The carcass is Baltic birch ply and MDF. The finish is French polish over spirit sanding sealer. I learned that Indian rosewood has very open grain!

It’s made of Indian rosewood veneer and solids. It’s intended to speak to the English boxes of the early nineteenth century. I had originally planned a more elaborate decoration scheme, but abandoned it in favor of a simple brass oval inlay and the small brass lock escutcheon. Seemed better. The cut engraving of the simple quill and ink bottle on the oval was done by hand. I haven’t picked up a graver in over 15 years, and I’m afraid it shows. It felt a lot like knitting socks with a catcher’s mitt on each hand. I need a lot of practice.

The interior is divided by a center section containing two ink bottles and a small spaces for ink cartridges. I chose Pelican Edelstein ink for their elegant bottles. (If the caps were of German silver, they would be perfect.) The box is lined with navy pig suede. The two small lift-out trays and lower dividers are ebony. The tray dividers are pinned with brass pins. The vaulted lid both reduces weight and provides an interesting shape to the interior (though it increases the challenge of installing 80 pieces of lining).

The hinges are Andrew Crawford’s beautiful smartHinges. The opening edges are bordered with a fine white/black/white line. The lock is from WhiteChapel, Ltd. as is the lock escutcheon. The blank brass oval came from, also a good source for the 1/16 brass rods used for the tray pins. The navy pig suede is from Alma Leather in London.

The 3/8” high base is also of Indian rosewood and is shaped in a period profile to anchor and balance the prominence of the lid shape. It has become my favorite base shape. Keeping with the period theme, the bottom itself is veneered in the same rosewood (rather than covering with leather) and contains the inlayed maker’s mark. I try to include interesting details, no matter how the box is turned, and without unfinished views, or rough edges. I like the box to be “finished” regardless of how it’s viewed.

Parting thought: For those of us who spend so much time with our laptop, iPad, iPod, and iPhones, fountain pens are a comforting connection to an earlier time – when people would actually “write” letters with real ink. Fountain pens are a bit like a genuine chronograph, with all the moving gears and wheels, as opposed to the accurate, but sterile, electronic wrist watch. ...things that can be just admired for what they are: common items from the past, but rapidly becoming luxuries.

OK, so I’m a throwback. But I’m quite comfortable with it. :-)

Thanks for looking in. Your comments and thoughts are always welcome.


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

41 comments so far

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1133 posts in 3552 days

#1 posted 06-26-2012 09:50 PM

What a beautiful box. Does it hold your pens or is it for someone else?
I still use an old Parker 51 from school days. It’s so much nicer than the modern offerings, especially when you want to write something special and important.

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3532 days

#2 posted 06-26-2012 09:59 PM

What’s not to like about it—absolutely beautiful. I still have and occasionally use my desk Monte Blanc, but find myself more and more using a simple ball point in blue ink (so you can tell the original from the copies). It is truly a shame that our electronic age has so very little class. However, your work is the epitome of class, congratulations on a job well done.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5458 days

#3 posted 06-26-2012 10:11 PM

Your work is always an inspiration to me, Roger. Thank you!

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

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4543 days

#4 posted 06-26-2012 10:31 PM

well roger for being a throw back , im quite comfortable with your style and admire your way of trying to preserve the so called luxury’s of the past, well i guess they are in this electronic world, and i think that even though my computer allows me to see things i love to see and so many things are good from this age, i would easily take the days of old and enjoy what have become luxury’s today, your box is pure class, as are all of your works, i love the fact that you have studied from English box makers and have learned the proper way of building this beautiful works of art..that’s how i feel about them…even though our styles are different, you have taught me a lot about box making, and with each one you do , i learn more, and my final thought, is your box is just beautiful…and your craftsmanship is first class…grizz

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

View ruddy's profile


550 posts in 4179 days

#5 posted 06-26-2012 10:47 PM

Roger…Inspirational craftsmanship. Please remain a throwback because that is what makes you and your work so exceptional. This project is simply beautiful.

-- And my head I'd be a scratchin'

View jbschutz's profile


615 posts in 3931 days

#6 posted 06-26-2012 11:42 PM

Beautiful design and execution. The rosewood veneer is elegant and eye-catching and highlights the shaped lid. The profiled base gives it a solid presence, and the blue suede is a great contrast to the rosewood. I would say your engraving is just fine, even though you may think there is room to improve. The whole project harkens to a mellower way of life…...a snifter of good brandy and penning a letter to an old friend or distant lover. You are indeed the best kind of throwback.

-- jbschutz

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 4316 days

#7 posted 06-26-2012 11:51 PM

I been out of the loop lately trying to find my way back to where I was. Seeing incredible pieces like this sure makes the process much easier than I first feared….

Beautiful attention to detail Roger… Yet another incredible piece of craftsmanship my friend…

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View mauibob's profile


246 posts in 4307 days

#8 posted 06-26-2012 11:52 PM

Another gorgeous box, Roger. Thanks for the source tips as well! I love the cove on the lid, and the choice of hardware makes the box extra special.

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

View shipwright's profile


8751 posts in 4038 days

#9 posted 06-26-2012 11:58 PM

You absolutely do rock Roger.
I could go on all day but…........
I am more impressed with your detail with every new project you post.

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

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2858 posts in 4832 days

#10 posted 06-27-2012 12:15 AM

WOW!!! Roger,

What a beautiful box, I love everything about it.
Like Paul said I could go on all day but…........
It’s another masterpiece, thank you for the inspiration.

-- Dennis Zongker

View Gary's profile


9419 posts in 4673 days

#11 posted 06-27-2012 01:33 AM

What a stunning piece. wow

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

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3930 days

#12 posted 06-27-2012 01:36 AM

You are another artist that I recognize as soon as I see the project. The top is certainly the focus and I love the cross grain veneer. An all around beautiful build.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Randy63's profile


252 posts in 4132 days

#13 posted 06-27-2012 02:49 AM

Another beauty Roger. I too like the cross grain veneering of the lid and its shape. The base goes well with this box also. The indiviual tray comparments for the pens and the inks are wonderful. Your boxes are always so elegant.

-- Randy, Oakdale, Ca.

View whitedog's profile


652 posts in 4697 days

#14 posted 06-27-2012 02:55 AM

What a great looking box and made with all the details of a Master box maker. Thank you for posting your work here.

-- Paul , Calfornia

View Woodbridge's profile


3751 posts in 3658 days

#15 posted 06-27-2012 03:17 AM

That is a masterful box!

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

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