My first box

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Project by sharad posted 12-07-2008 08:05 PM 2256 views 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my first attempt to make a box and I have not ventured to use advance joinery like dovetails. The wood used is Shisham (Dalbergia sissoo) also called Sisu, Sissoo or Indian Rosewood.
After teak, it is the most important cultivated timber tree in Haryana and rest of India. Shisham is among the finest cabint, furniture and veneer timbers. The heartwood is golden to dark brown, and sapwood white to pale brownish white. The heartwood is extreemly durable ( Specific Gravity 0.7 TO 0.8 and is very resistant to dry-wood termites. The wood is a bit difficult to work with.
I have used only hand tools. I encountered difficulty while fixing the hinges. But now I know the trick. Squaring the box also was not so easy and has added to my experience. For hardware I had no choice as this was the only type available in the city market. For better hardware I will have to try in the Bombay market or import them for my next box. The box was looking nice without any finish still I gave it a couple of beewax coats. The beewax cake was applied and buffed I am sure my next box will be much better. Please make critical comments so that I can avoid any further mistakes.

-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

16 comments so far

View Maddhatter's profile


126 posts in 3542 days

#1 posted 12-07-2008 09:01 PM

Sharad – not sure that I am qualified to provide critical comments on the box. I will add that working with wood is a passion and the recipient of this box, you have created will last a lifetime and provide joy for days to come.

Well done and thanks for posting.

-- Norm (AKA - The Maddhatter), Middletown DE

View TraumaJacques's profile


433 posts in 3465 days

#2 posted 12-07-2008 09:03 PM

Well done. Interesting wood I had never heard of it must look it up at my local exotic wood store.

-- All bleeding will eventually stop.

View johnpoole's profile


74 posts in 3431 days

#3 posted 12-07-2008 09:52 PM

i built my 1st box almost 50 years ago.. hardware via mailorder is often the only way to go.. i love working with the wood you chose.. yes it’s hard but mills clean.. take a small board and build something that will last for generations. gets in your blood i think. get used to being your own worst critic.

-- it's not a sickness, i can stop buying tools anytime i want

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3550 days

#4 posted 12-07-2008 10:32 PM

A good and nicely made for your first attempt, keep going Sharad my dear friend. I like the wood and the lines of this box very much you will only improve with each one you make kindest regards and keep up the good work.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3861 days

#5 posted 12-08-2008 12:10 AM

i think it looks good. I have never heard of that wood before. It sure is a very rich looking color. Thanks for sharing.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View dustygirl's profile


862 posts in 3693 days

#6 posted 12-08-2008 12:18 AM

Nice box Sharad.I like the grain of the wood.

-- Dustygirl..Hastings,Ontario.. How much wood can 1 gal chuck if 1 gal can't cut wood?

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 3736 days

#7 posted 12-08-2008 01:15 AM

The hardest thing to do is to is complete the first box. Never having done it before, it is all new. As we continue on our journey building things, we acquire skills and experience to better ourselves and our projects. Now with each new box you make, it will be better than the last. However, seldome does our ability exceed our expectations. Keep a positive attitude and an open, learning mind; then you and your boxes will develop just fine.

Congratulations on your first box. It is a fine piece. Keep it, it will always remind you of where you are in your woodworking journey.


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View sharad's profile


1117 posts in 3769 days

#8 posted 12-08-2008 08:02 AM

Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement. I assure you I will do much better in my next attempt.

johnpoole, It is true it mills clean at some places but poses a little difficulty at other places because of the grain structure. The plane blade(iron) should be very sharp to avoid this.

-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3839 days

#9 posted 12-08-2008 01:55 PM

Sharad, that is a box to be proud of. If your work is that good on the first try, the following boxes will be wonderful.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4125 days

#10 posted 12-08-2008 08:03 PM

a beautiful box. A keepsake for sure. Well done.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Keith Cruickshank's profile

Keith Cruickshank

41 posts in 3609 days

#11 posted 12-11-2008 04:25 AM

The box turned out great. And I especially like your wood selection.. Beautiful.

-- Keith Cruickshank, - on-demand woodworking videos

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

714 posts in 3583 days

#12 posted 12-11-2008 04:41 AM

Your joinery is sound. The wood selection is beautiful. Try using thinner material on your next one. Not only does it make the box “lighter” but it will save you labor especially since you are using hand tools. Be sure to post pictures of your next one!

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 3989 days

#13 posted 12-11-2008 11:30 PM

Very nice. I can sympathize with the problem of finding good hardwood through local sources.

Indian rosewood is a beautiful wood. In fact, two of my guitars have bodies made of this wood. It yields a warm, rich tone.

Like Don, I think thinner pieces might yield a better balance in this size. Also, you might want to experiment with a simple oil finish on some of your scraps. It’s been my experience that oil will really bring out the beauty of rosewood, especially in a piece that will be handled often. It tends to yield a rich color that will deepen over time. Also, unlike glossy finishes, it will not show scratches as easily.

Have you tried a scraper for final finishing? This will often yield good results with rosewood, as it tends to clog sandpaper rapidly.

I get the feeling that rosewood is not as expensive there as it is here!

Very nice first effort.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View 4hisglory's profile


73 posts in 3415 days

#14 posted 12-18-2008 02:31 AM

I think your box looks pretty good and is nothing to be ashamed about, especially in light of the fact that it is not only your first but also made of a dense wood and no power equipment to help you along. All in time and practice. If you felt it was difficult you could try a softer, straighter grained wood if its available just to get a better feel for the various techniques, and joinery types. Nice job.

The only thing I could add is a humble suggestion on the hinge mortises. If you have a drill of any sort I prefer to pre-drill the hinges and actually attach them to the box. Then use a sharp knife or chisel and pre-score the hinge mortises using the hinge as your guide. Then unscrew the hinges and chisel your mortises out. This makes for a perfect fit on those hinges. This is my technique and there are many others :)

-- 3rd generation craftsman ~

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6851 posts in 3944 days

#15 posted 04-23-2009 05:22 PM

Hi Sharad;

Using hand tools and a hard wood such as rose wood, you did a great job with this project. The suggestion above, from 4hisglory, is a good one. It is rather easy to install hinge in this manner. Opening the hinge fully, so the free leaf is touching the back of the box, will help in keeping the hinge square to the back.

Scribing around the hinge with a marking knife helps to guide your chisel, making a nice tight fit. Also, it is best to “sneak” up on the line, meaning do most of the wood removal close to the line, the work your way to the line using a paring cut.

Thinner lumber also helps in achieving a more elegant look, as it is more proportionate to the project.

One last thing, if you are going to continue to use slotted screws, would be to try to have the slots running parallel to the board. Sounds a little petty, but helps in the overall appearance. The eye is automatically drawn to the mismatched direction of the slots.

All this said, if this were my first box, I would be quite proud of it.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

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