A Boxguy Can't Change His Stripes

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Project by Boxguy posted 01-22-2013 02:37 AM 3000 views 13 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Pictured is a jewelry box (12 x 7 x 6) with nesting trays. The sides are sloped with a slightly curved sweep at the bottom. The outer box is made with American Walnut sides and Movingui top and corner splines.

There are two striped inner trays. The top one is made of African Mahogany. The bottom one is made of American walnut. Both have a continuous inlayed stripe of 1/8 inch maple-walnut-maple running around the whole tray. I purposely cut into the top of the inlay on one corner because I liked the effect that you see on the forward corner.

There is a continuous hinge, inset in the back, and cut to fit. It is finished with 3 coats of poly and one coat of wax.

As you can see the stripe runs around all four corners and meets up perfectly.

Personal Note: This is an early box that I made in 2008. I borrowed it back to photograph from my first and most loyal customer. This early sale started me on a path of making boxes to sell. Such small things can make a big difference. As you can see I was experimenting with many different ideas here. It was fun to see this box again…like unexpectedly meeting an old friend that you really like, but hadn’t seen in a while.

Focus: This stripe was made by starting with a board an inch and a quarter thick and two feet long. You cannot do this with a board much thinner as they will buckle as you apply clamping pressure later in the process. I laid the board flat on the band saw and cut an undulating curve down the full length staying about an inch away from the two edges with the bandsaw cut. The board is then separated and I inserted a strip of 1/8 inch maple, then 1/8 inch walnut, then 1/8 inch thick maple between the two halves of the board. Turn one half of the board up on edge and coat the bandsaw cut with a spread layer of carpenter’s glue. Quickly coat the first piece of 1/8 maple with well spread glue, then one side of the walnut now coat the bandsawn edge of the board. You only need to coat one side of the 1/8 inch inserts with glue.

For good results make your 1/8 inch strips wider than the board and about a foot longer than the board. The curved line will be much longer than a straight line. Start clamping in the middle. I warn you everything will want to slip around with the coat of glue on it. Screw clamps work best for this as you will need quite a bit of pressure. Now work your way to the ends by applying clamps and pressure first on one side then another. Don’t clamp the boards too tight too soon. Give the 1/8 inch strips time to bend, slide, and conform to the cut shape. Finish with a good tightening of all the clamps to compress the strips into the saw cut.

Give the glue a day to dry, plane the board’s two sides flat and parallel. First, trim both ends square, then resaw the board. With the sawn faces up you now have a stripe that matches end to end. Lay out your box or tray from the center point where the two halves meet. Starting from the center point measure out a short side and a long side on the left board, then from the center measure out a long side and a short side on the right side. When you finish and are looking down at the two boards butted up with the bandsawn side up you should have some scrap, a long side, a short side, the butt joint, a long side, a short side, and some scrap.

This is tough to do with words. I’ll do it with pictures as a turotial when my hip heals. Nice to know they are still stocking new parts for old guys.

Thanks: As always, thanks to all of you who looked at this project. A special thanks to all who took the extra time to comment or ask questions. I respond to all comments you make. My responses will be in batches during the next day or so. Please, check back on this posting.

-- Big Al in IN

21 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118145 posts in 4497 days

#1 posted 01-22-2013 02:48 AM

These are way cool Al ,great job.


View dustyal's profile


1320 posts in 4395 days

#2 posted 01-22-2013 02:52 AM

Thanks for detailing this procedure… it looks great… and unique…

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View Jim Sellers's profile

Jim Sellers

507 posts in 3254 days

#3 posted 01-22-2013 03:10 AM

High style, beautiful box Al. But the trays are the star of the show. I love the stripes and the way it trails over the top corner. I’m a little slow sometimes but after readin your directions about 4 times it fell into place. I’m gonna have to try that. Thanks

-- J.C.Sellers, Norcross, Ga. Just cut it right the first time. The best carpenters make the fewest chips.

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

7686 posts in 4272 days

#4 posted 01-22-2013 03:23 AM

I love the flair, at first I thought it was my eyesight. or the camera until I did a little reading. Once again the color is soft and warm and easy on the eye’s, I like that! The strip gives it a nice “attention to detail” feeling. For a 4 year old it looks like it’s been well cared for. It’s beautiful Al. Very nice work!
I hope your hip problem is solved soon! Get well my friend!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View Tag84's profile


573 posts in 3576 days

#5 posted 01-22-2013 03:31 AM

Hi Al, The shape is beautifully subtile. You give so much life trough the wood with your finishes, the trays also look really nice with the stripes.
I was wondering something. Sometimes it’s so hard to see where little bits of glue residue are, that even after sanding i start oiling, to see that there still were places where sandust or glue blocks the oil. How do you manage this?

-- -Thomas -

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4223 days

#6 posted 01-22-2013 04:26 AM

hey there al, this one really surprised me as i knew you were healing from hip surgery, i was thinking, man nothing holds this guy back, but i was fooled, but i love this box, the whole thing is really right on…very nice…now quit trying to fool us old wood workers, enjoy some healing time, this will be time for you to draw out some new designs and prepare to blow us away as you always do…grizz

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

View Boxguy's profile


2888 posts in 3187 days

#7 posted 01-22-2013 06:43 AM

First Set of Responses:

Jim, thanks for the kind words. I am glad you liked this project.

Dusty, always nice to hear from you. This design does have some nice features. Some I have used again…some are unique to this box. The flair was nice, but took a ton of sanding. I may return to the stripe idea. I made a couple of boxes with stripes running across the top

Jim, I apologize that I had to do with words what would have been easier seen in photos. I just didn’t have any photos on hand and have to be away from the shop for a bit. Glad you were able to sort it out. Thanks for being patient with the explanation. Is there some part that I can make more clear?

Tony, Thanks for the thoughtful comments about the shape of this box. It is eye catching and the stripes are a nice surprise when you look inside.

On another note, I got my new metal hip and left the hospital 36 hours later. When we got home I walked in the house, climbed the stairs and went to bed. It wasn’t pretty, but I could do it. One week out and I don’t need to use a cane. This has all be a surprise to me. Of course I am sore, but I don’t have the pain I had before the new hip.

Thomas, thanks for noticing the subtle curves on this box. Now, about those glue spots. They are the bane of boxmaking. First, use thicker glue. It is much less messy to work with. I use Tightbond Molding and Trim Glue. Store it upside down. This is my set up for gluing boxes.

Now that we have talked about the glue itself, let me divide the solution. First, for inside the box. Second for the outside of the box.

Inside: since you have to final sand the inside before you assemble the box why not take the time to oil and put one urethane coat on the inside of the board you are going to use for the sides of the box? This is a sure way to avoid glue stain. Any glue will be on top of the finish. Most glue can be removed usually by scraping or you can coat over it with no stain. I have built up a stock of 20 or 30 boards of various woods that are final sanded, dadoed, and have a coat of finish. It is really nice to just pick up one of these and start making a box. They seem to fly together. I take a day to plane, size, dado, sand, and coat boards 10 or 12 at a time. All your 45ed corners will be clean-sawn and will hold glue well.

Don’t want to wait? I have gotten better at wiping the inside of the 45s with my finger to minimize squeeze-out. For glued on tops, I keep a small bladed screwdriver handy. If there is squeeze-out when I tighten the band clamp I wait about 10-15 min. until the glue gets half set and is tacky. I then carefully scrape the inside joint with the screwdriver blade. Start in about 2 inches and draw upwardly. Wipe the blade clean. Then go to 3 inches and draw upwardly. Wipe the blade clean. Don’t wipe it with a wet towel. It spreads the glue around and makes a mess.

Outside: After glue-up I start using my random orbital sanders. It seems harsh, but I will use 80-100 grit and a light touch on the outside to start with. It saves time overall because it removes any accidental glue touches, and cleans away glue left from splines. It also removes any tool marks left by routing corners or saws. Think of this grit as a carving grit to shape and sculpt the edges and corners. Then move through 120, 220, 600. Use good light. If there are any glue spots you see…back up a grit and re-sand.

Lastly, if you apply finish and see a spot. Man up. Let the finish dry, take the box back to the shop and sand the spot away by hand or with an orbital sander. Do better on the next coat.

Grizz, thanks for the concern. Doc says to keep moving. I have been walking and doing my prescribed exercises. One week out and I have ditched the cane and am doing fine. I still don’t trust myself to work around tools yet…so I thought a posting or two would be fun and help me keep my hand it the game. My next post is one I have been saving back. I think you’ll like it. You take care as well. Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3590 posts in 4632 days

#8 posted 01-22-2013 07:27 AM


I really like your method of inserting the stripe. I hope to try it some day. (One more item on my to-do list!)

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View balidoug's profile


514 posts in 3398 days

#9 posted 01-22-2013 08:42 AM

Another fine performance, Al.Nicely done.

-- From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. Immanuel Kant

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3902 days

#10 posted 01-22-2013 11:34 AM

glad you got the box back, to photo it for all to see!

View The Box Whisperer's profile

The Box Whisperer

678 posts in 2990 days

#11 posted 01-22-2013 12:03 PM

nice work as always, I cant wait to finish my shop upgrades and make some more boxes. as always your work is inspirational.

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

View Roger's profile


21031 posts in 3724 days

#12 posted 01-22-2013 12:24 PM

You are the boxguy, Al. The way you did those inner trays is really flashy and very kool. Actually, everything you do is very kool. I appreciate your “how-to” do a lot of the things that you do.

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

View croquetman's profile


137 posts in 4241 days

#13 posted 01-22-2013 01:43 PM

Nice. Let me reassure you that the new hip will be a vast improvement over all that pain. I celebrated the 2 year anniversary of my new hip last November. My biggest issue with it: airport security delays. Just remember to do what your PT tells you to do, and get strong.

-- Whatever

View abie's profile


920 posts in 4690 days

#14 posted 01-22-2013 03:38 PM

Nice job Boxguy:
As always I look forward to your tutorials as I am sure the box makers among us do. again TNX

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

View don1960's profile


227 posts in 3607 days

#15 posted 01-22-2013 04:52 PM

Al, really cool box. Love the stripes. I’ve made a couple little things with stripes, but never around corners like that. Impressive.

Oh, and I LOVE this comment:
Lastly, if you apply finish and see a spot. Man up. Let the finish dry, take the box back to the shop and sand the spot away by hand or with an orbital sander. Do better on the next coat.

So true. How many times I’ve put the first coat of finish on something, seen a bad spot, and sat there trying to convince myself it wouldn’t matter. It always does! I laughed at that comment.

-- -- Don from PA

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