The "Art Box" concept came about when I was looking for a way to use small pieces of some figured Myrtlewood I had leftover, not large enough for a box, but not something I could not throw away either. I decided to feature it in the lid of a box, like a picture in a frame.
Keep that picture frame in mind when selecting the small piece for the medallion. You might select that picture piece first and then find a less figured wood to use for the lid and body, one that sets it off.
A) What YOU find appealing, which is totally subjective.
B) How you want to do the top, e.g., medallion or not, and type of hinges.
C) What material you either have on hand or have access to.
Here are two different approaches.
A) Contrasting the color or grain, or both between the body and the medallion is very eye catching.
B) Alternately, a tone on tone approach can evoke a calming effect, or in the right combination, it might even feel masculine.
• A light colored wood such as maple for the sides and top and a figured piece of myrtle for the medallion is stunning.
• On the other hand, a darker body out of wenge works well with ziricote for the medallion.
• For a tone on tone effect, try using plain walnut for the body and figured walnut for the medallion.
To see how two woods look together, wet them with mineral spirits and lay one over the other, this brings out the color and does not raise the grain like water. Just lay one on the other to see if you like the effect.
The body and top should to be out of the same board if at all possible so the color and grain match closely.
If you are using a figured wood and want the grain to appear to run contiguous from the face and up over the top, then you will need a wider board of about 11''. (That's how I did the Bad Moon secret box)
This isn't always necessary, as when using straight grained lumber, or when a lot of shaping is done, the shaping grinds away the top layer of matching grain anyway.
A. Body - For a contiguous look, matching the grain of the body with the top,
you will need a board about ¾ × 11×40.
B. Body - To grain match the body only, select a board about ¾ x 4 × 40
and a separate piece for the top about ¾ x 7 × 11
Medallion- ¾ × 5×8
Corner splines - I often rip these out of the same board as the medallion. You may wish to go for a stronger contrast. Play around and see what works best with your woods.
E. Handle - This will often come from the same board as the medallion or a scrap of wild figured wood.
F. Dividers - After I have completed the box, I work on the design for the dividers. I prefer to make a visual statement by matching them to the medallion or contrasting them with the body color.
There will not be a typical cut list for this box. You will cut parts for the body and size the bottom from that, and after you assemble the body, you will cut and fit the lid, and so on…
A sacrificial box
Depending on your skill level, and how clear my instructions are, I recommend making a second box out of an inexpensive wood, such as poplar or clear pine. This will give you a test subject for each set up. There are several steps where you may feel more comfortable practicing on wood that is less dear to you.
The first thing I do is mark out each part, showing its relationship to the others. This insures that each one gets cut in the proper sequence and is reassembled in order.
You may skip this part if you are using an even grained/colored wood or making a test box. However, it's a good idea to get in the habit of paying attention to grain orientation.
I will be using this piece of bubinga for the body and lid of my box.