Walnut Box with Inlaid Corners

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Project by CharlieM1958 posted 05-30-2009 10:31 PM 2882 views 4 times favorited 44 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This little box has a couple of “firsts” for me. I’ve been seeing some nice boxes with inlaid corners posted, and I wanted to give that a try. Secondly, I’ve never rubbed out a finish with pumice and rottenstone before. Now I see why this is the preferred method of a lot of experts. Even thoughI’ve got some flaws in my finish due to less-than-perfect surface prep and grain filling, I was still very impressed with the results.

I used a water-based polyurethane because I wanted to maintain the natural color of the bookmatched top panels, and oil-based finishes tend to warm things up quite a bit. I wiped on about 5 coats with a foam brush, sanded with 320 down to 1000 grit, polished with #0000 steel wool to a dull but very smooth surface, then rubbed out with a paste of parrafin oil and FF pumice, followed by more oil with rottenstone. Finally, I gave it a coat of paste wax.

Overall dimensions are approx. 2 1/2” x 3 1/2” x 7 1/2”.

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

44 comments so far

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 3519 days

#1 posted 05-30-2009 10:45 PM

Once again, only the best from you Charlie…............. very very nice!!! Really like the bookmatched top as well!!!!

I, like you, have been “meaning” to try the corner inlay and have always been curious as to the pumice/rottenstone finish process. So….......... if you could be so nice, what benefit do you see in this process from both a “finishing process” and a “final result”? Any thing you can think of that we should watch
out for if I try it? Could you use this finish process directly over Danish?

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View RobH's profile


465 posts in 4073 days

#2 posted 05-30-2009 10:47 PM

Great looking box! I love small projects. I might have to try on of these myself. It looks like a lot of fun.

Thanks for sharing.

-- -- Rob Hix, King George, VA

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4242 days

#3 posted 05-30-2009 11:24 PM

Gene, the major advantage I see to the process is that you can never get that last coat of finish perfect, and the rubbing out removes those dust nibs and miniscule runs, while still giving you a glassy finish. Also, you can adjust the gloss level pretty easily by varying the coarseness of pumice/rottenstone, and the amount of lubricant you use.

As for using this directly over danish oil, maybe someone with experience will chime in. It seems to me that you’ve got to get a thick enough base down first if you really want to go totally smooth. I think rottenstone over danish oil would give you a real nice sheen, but just not as smooth a surface as a built up finish would give you.

The process is pretty labor intensive, but not bad for small pieces like boxes and such.

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

View Woodhacker's profile


1139 posts in 3746 days

#4 posted 05-30-2009 11:25 PM

Great looking box Charlie. I like the finish technique you’ve used here. Well done.

Thanks for posting it.

-- Martin, Kansas

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14173 posts in 4006 days

#5 posted 05-30-2009 11:38 PM

very nice piece … what are you going to put in it ? The photo with the flower reflection is an state fair prize winner.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 3519 days

#6 posted 05-30-2009 11:48 PM

Thanks Charlie, something to think about and try…..............

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View Christopher's profile


576 posts in 3943 days

#7 posted 05-30-2009 11:54 PM

Charlie rocked it as usual!

View spanky46's profile


995 posts in 3414 days

#8 posted 05-31-2009 12:17 AM

I always look forward to your posts! This is the reason why!

-- spanky46 -- Never enough clamps...Never enough tools...Never enough time.

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3600 days

#9 posted 05-31-2009 12:18 AM

Hey charlie
This is a wonderful looking box(as all of yours are) with super details like inlaid corners and beautiful book matched top. It’s great.
I don’t want to sound critical about the process ,particularly with someone I think who always has a level headed common sense approach to most subjects. One of the things I wonder about is the use of steel wool with water base finishes that more times than not you end up with rust spots in your clear coat. I guess what I’m wondering is this something you’ve had success with or haven’t you used this combination before? Have you tried just going up to 1200 grit wet sanding with soapy water to the final coats with sand paper to rub out a finish and if you have how would you say that compares with rottenstone finish.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View flcopper169's profile


187 posts in 3363 days

#10 posted 05-31-2009 12:27 AM

Beautiful job… the book matched top is killer….


-- Happy and safe woodworking,

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4242 days

#11 posted 05-31-2009 12:54 AM

Thanks everybody!

Jim, good points. I probably should not have used steel wool, but honestly, I’m so used to using oil-based finishes, I didn’t think about it until I had already done it. But I still think I’m okay, because the finish was cured, and I was not coming back with any more water based finish on top. Steel wool between coats of water is a no-no for sure, though.

Wet sanding to 1200 with soapy water is something I have not tried, but I definitely will. Thanks for the thoughts!

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

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3696 days

#12 posted 05-31-2009 12:55 AM

Nice little box.

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3378 days

#13 posted 05-31-2009 01:08 AM

Charlie you are surely in the “box” seat when it comes to making fine looking boxes!!
Love your work and look forward to more..Bookmatched top is the way to go…
Larry from the land downunder

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4045 days

#14 posted 05-31-2009 01:09 AM

Well you aced it Charlie.
I see you have gone back to the old even hinge clasp discipline. :-0


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View woodworm's profile


14468 posts in 3614 days

#15 posted 05-31-2009 01:26 AM

Really very nice box and the inlaid corners make the difference.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

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