Walnut Veneer Pen Box

  • Advertise with us
Project by RogerBean posted 12-19-2013 05:51 PM 8768 views 52 times favorited 60 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a new box, so here’s the latest. This is the fourth in a progression of “shaped front” boxes, and the first to incorporate a hidden release drawer. The box is designed to hold my modest collection of fountain pens, but could equally serve as a jewelry box. While I enjoy making a number of different things besides boxes, my clear preference is for traditionally styled, functional boxes; ones that might have been made around 1800.

This box is 11 1/4” wide, 5” tall, and 8 1/2’ deep. It is veneered in walnut burl. The lid is a four-way match, and the sides are a two-way match. It was a challenging box to veneer, as the combination of curved surfaces and very close tolerances converge to create challenging shapes.

The substrate is Baltic birch ply, walnut solids, and MDF. The edging is boxwood, bordered by a black/black/white/black line. The lock escutcheon is brass, from as is the full mortise lock. The English made Queen Anne handles are from .

The drawer front is shaped on the inside to reflect the exterior shape and provide a bit more usable space inside. The release mechanism is spring loaded, and activated by the small turned betel nut knob located at the rear of the open lid. When raised, the drawer pops out a bit so it can be easily opened. When the drawer is pushed back in, the drawer latches back into the closed position. It is an elegant and reliable mechanism designed by Andrew Crawford.

As with all my boxes, I try to provide a surprise when the box is opened or turned upside down. Sort of a philosophical thing, I guess, but “Why complete part of the box, and not the rest?” The interior is lined with dark green leather, and incorporates a single offset tray of African blackwood, and inner partitions that hold a single bottle of Pelican “Edelstein” ink, chosen in part for the lovely glass bottle.

The inner edges of the lid and base are highlighted by a subtle white/black/white line. The hinges are Andrew Crawford’s precision smartHinges. I decided to also cover the bottom with leather, complementing the interior.

The finish is French polish. There are many ways to get a mirror finish, but there is something very tactile about French polish. I would enjoy seeing more LumberJocks giving veneered boxes a try. Veneer opens a whole new world of choices not possible with solids.

A number of folks have expressed an interest in how these boxes are made. I’ve created a 112 page “photo documentary” which allows the reader to “look over my shoulder” throughout the construction of the box. It includes nearly 200 photographs and describes each step in considerable detail. It is available for download from It is, perhaps, the most complete description ever published for a single box. LOL

More to come. I have a couple more projects on the bench. Thanks everyone for looking in.


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

60 comments so far

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3404 days

#1 posted 12-19-2013 05:53 PM

Absolutely beautiful—top drawer all the way!

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

View oakwood's profile


327 posts in 3182 days

#2 posted 12-19-2013 06:00 PM

A beautiful box. Nice design and luv the veneer choice.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5330 days

#3 posted 12-19-2013 06:07 PM

Ho-hum…. just another spectacular Roger Bean box. You know we expect nothing less from you, and you always deliver! :-)

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

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4415 days

#4 posted 12-19-2013 06:34 PM

yea charlie, that is what i was thinking, just another ho hum, fantastic box…your schooling from england paid off, and your skills are right in the ballpark, a beautiful box roger, its good to see you post , would like to see it happen more often, now i shall look at this one for awhile, see what i can learn from this one…always something to learn…

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

View mauibob's profile


246 posts in 4180 days

#5 posted 12-19-2013 06:43 PM

Absolutely beautiful, Roger!

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4446 days

#6 posted 12-19-2013 06:44 PM

Words can’t do it justice Roger, the box says it all. Wonderful inspiration and amazing craftsmanship.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26267 posts in 4218 days

#7 posted 12-19-2013 06:48 PM

Excellent box, Roger. It is sooooooooooooo elegant!!

Thanks for sharing!!............................... Merry Christmas, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View kdc68's profile


3010 posts in 3389 days

#8 posted 12-19-2013 06:50 PM

Stunning ! You sir are an incredibly talented woodworker…

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View tomd's profile


2222 posts in 4882 days

#9 posted 12-19-2013 06:57 PM

Beautiful box Roger, you certainly like the shaped front boxes. Love the veneer on this one and especially the four way match knowing it takes skill to accomplish it. The hardware looks excellent and the interior is very nice, so many box makers do little to make the interior beautiful. Congratulations on a excellent box.

-- Tom D

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1131 posts in 3424 days

#10 posted 12-19-2013 07:14 PM

Stunning box Roger. Looking forward to the down load to gain an insight on your process.

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

View blackcherry's profile


3346 posts in 4935 days

#11 posted 12-19-2013 07:27 PM

Roger its always a pleasure to see what has materialize off your bench, no exception here just stunning eye popping work. The craftsmanship is well received in the photos as well as the beautiful finish, as aways thank for sharing your works….BC…P.S. recently purchase a set of smart hinges and am very pleased with the ease of installation thanks for your recommendation.

View dclark1943's profile


270 posts in 3300 days

#12 posted 12-19-2013 07:36 PM

Roger, Once again, a masterpiece. Every detail is meticulous and beautiful; a wonderful addition to the wonderful world of elegant boxes ! Your work continues to motivate and energize me.

-- Dave, Kansas City

View shipwright's profile


8726 posts in 3910 days

#13 posted 12-19-2013 07:51 PM

Hey Roger, you’ve still got it my friend.
Lovely example of your talent for design and creation and welcome back to the project pages. You have been missed.

I will second your invitation to more LJs to try veneer as a decorative approach to boxes (or anything else). The opportunities are literally endless and the effects achievable are remarkable.
One needs look no further than your projects page to see that.

Thanks for sharing this one with us.

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

View jbschutz's profile


613 posts in 3804 days

#14 posted 12-19-2013 07:56 PM

Beautiful box, Roger. Somebody will say, “They don’t make ‘em like that any more”, but you do! The book matched veneer, the flowing lines, the hardware, the leather lining, the finish…...every thing seems just right. It rings with the qualities that come from a time passed. My favorite little detail…... the recess in the lid for the knob that releases the drawer. Congrats, on this one….she’s a dandy!

-- jbschutz

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4148 days

#15 posted 12-19-2013 08:28 PM

A superb and precisely executed box, Roger. Your veneering technique is exacting. Whilst our design styles may be wildly different I still find it enjoyable to see well made examples of period boxes, like yours. Long may you continue to make them.

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

showing 1 through 15 of 60 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics