Pepperwood Burl Writing Box

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Project by RogerBean posted 02-09-2014 03:27 PM 8340 views 27 times favorited 50 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This box will hold writing supplies, paper, envelopes, and perhaps a few pens and other writing materials. After the last curved lid, shaped front box, this one returns to a straightforward rectangular shape at 13 1/8×8 3/4×4 1/4”. Like most of my boxes it’s pretty traditional in appearance. I’m still searching for that timeless look.

The substrate is Baltic birch ply, veneered with pepperwood burl (also known, I understand, as Oregon myrtle or California laurel.) The edging is boxwood, bordered with a black-black/white/black line. The lid is a four-way book-match; the sides are a two-way match. The exterior lift is African blackwood. The underside of the lid is veneered in pepperwood, with an added accent banding of Asian satinwood. The box bottom, and tray bottom, are veneered in cherry to complement the general color of the rest of the box.

The hinges are smartHinges from Andrew Crawford, complemented by a full mortise lock. The tray, tray pedestals, and interior partitions are canarywood, as are the partitions that keep the little Jacaranda box in place. The interior surfaces are lined with chocolate brown pig suede leather. The Jacaranda box interior is also pepper wood, and the lift is turned from ebonite (a high end fountain pen material) with a betel nut inlay. The finish is French polish.

Fixing problems: This veneer, while beautiful, was riddled with defects. I chose to use it, despite the challenges, and saw the opportunity to test various methods of filling and repairing all the holes and flaws. There were over 200 holes and defects (yes, 200!) in the box surface! One hole was larger than a nickel. I decided if it didn’t work out, I could always strip off this veneer and redo it in something else. Actually, it turned out to be a valuable experiment. I learned a lot I didn’t know about repairing defects with the materials commonly available.

I always try to fix the defects I find (or create) so I used this opportunity to test out several different fillers and ways to use them. Also, re-creating the grain patterns trying to create virtually invisible repairs. I think most will agree that it’s possible to make repairs that will satisfy even the most demanding observer. It’s harder to actually do it. You can judge the result.

I don’t like letting mistakes or defects pass. Not that I’ve never done it (…but I don’t respect myself in the morning.) When all is said and done, we’re remembered by what we do, not what we intended to do. I’m not saying the box is perfect …they never are, but perfection is always worth trying for. LOL

In any event, this is the result.

BTW: Sincere thanks to all who downloaded my e-book on the Walnut Fountain Pen Box. I hope you found it helpful. I’ve done another (vol 2) for this project. All the steps in making the pepperwood box are included, plus a complete section on the repair of defects, including several test panels. It’s quite different from the first book. It is 119 pages and loaded with photos. Lots of new stuff in this one. This one(vol. 2) is also available at under “downloads”..

I have more projects on the bench …I’ll finish the humidor next, I think. I’m always happy to hear your comments, suggestions, or questions.

Many thanks for taking a look.


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

50 comments so far

View OhValleyWoodandWool's profile


970 posts in 4364 days

#1 posted 02-09-2014 03:39 PM

Absolutely gorgeous box. Impressive craftsmanship too

-- "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure." Mark Twain

View BigAl98's profile


286 posts in 4282 days

#2 posted 02-09-2014 03:40 PM

That’s a beauty!

-- Al,Midwest -To thine own self be true

View shipwright's profile


8751 posts in 4041 days

#3 posted 02-09-2014 03:49 PM

This is another of your “perfect” series I see Roger.
First of all I think you are awfully close to the timeless look if you have not in fact found it. IMHO you have.

What sets your boxes apart from many other beautifully made pieces that we see daily here is the details in my opinion.
Nothing seems to be insignificant in your work. Every tiny bit receives your special care and attention.

One day , when I stop experimenting, I hope to attempt to do something with this kind of attention to detail but that is a little way off still.

As for the defects, I know my veneer pretty well and know where to look for the repairs. I think I see a couple but the fact that I’m saying “I think” is the key. I’m not sure. ....... fine job.

I look forward to seeing more about the repairs because as we all know the most beautiful burl veneers always seem to have defects and holes.

Lovely box Roger.

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

View bigike's profile


4058 posts in 4532 days

#4 posted 02-09-2014 03:51 PM

Another great looken box Rog, I gotta step my game up to this level. For now I’ll have to sit on tha side till then.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4110 days

#5 posted 02-09-2014 03:59 PM

This is a beautiful box. You’ve done such a nice job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Dan P's profile

Dan P

755 posts in 3135 days

#6 posted 02-09-2014 04:08 PM


-- Daniel P

View michelletwo's profile


2795 posts in 4259 days

#7 posted 02-09-2014 04:24 PM


View a1Jim's profile


118258 posts in 4820 days

#8 posted 02-09-2014 04:31 PM

Beautiful work Roger ,a real work of art.


View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4552 days

#9 posted 02-09-2014 04:32 PM

Roger…Your work has a whole lot of awesomeness from start to finish. This piece is beautiful and has so much character in the veneer. The defects you notice in the veneer are not noticeable as defects but are seen as the natural beauty of natural wood.

View Bobsboxes's profile


1673 posts in 3907 days

#10 posted 02-09-2014 04:39 PM

Very beautiful art, lots of detail, well done

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View majeagle1's profile


1429 posts in 4740 days

#11 posted 02-09-2014 04:46 PM

Another of your superb “timeless” art pieces Roger…..... very, very nice!!!!!!!

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View jbschutz's profile


615 posts in 3935 days

#12 posted 02-09-2014 05:11 PM

If timelessness is the goal…’ve hit the mark. This is a real classic. All the details are well thought out and choreographed into a beautiful piece….. Useful art and extraordinary craftsmanship.

-- jbschutz

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4547 days

#13 posted 02-09-2014 05:25 PM

what a beautiful box roger, its filled with so many details, i really like the corner lifts that the box sits on, a very nice touch, and i like the button on the front lid, my only thought was that on the inside where you boxed in with the decorative inlay, maybe in that square you could have done a inlay of a pen with a ink bottle.., its just a thought, but over all you have kept to your high standard of box making and its one i always enjoy seeing, having been taught by the master of box making, your able to share with us, that there can be so many smaller things that enhance the box besides the box itself..thank you…bob

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

View BBF's profile


144 posts in 3082 days

#14 posted 02-09-2014 05:34 PM


-- I've never been disappointed buying quality but I have been disappointed buying good enough.

View dclark1943's profile


270 posts in 3431 days

#15 posted 02-09-2014 05:42 PM

Good Morning Roger; Another beautiful box! I’m a big fan of your pursuit of the “classic” box, and this one is indeed a classic. Your choice of materials, the fit and finish and the style make this a heirloom piece. Congratulations on a very nice piece of work. I’m already looking forward to your next presentation! Stay warm!

-- Dave, Kansas City

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