Spalted Sycamore Surprise

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Project by DocT posted 1712 days ago 2194 views 11 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My Mom requested a box for Christmas to replace the make-up box she has been using. She was very specific about the dimensions, but left the design up to me.

Luckily, I had been saving some offcuts from some very special boards my Grandpa (maternal) gave to me several years ago. He and his Dad had milled these boards sometime in the thirties. Somehow the boards had ended up stacked in the back of a run-in shed and were covered with cow crap. Once I cleaned them up, I found that they were beautifully quarter-sawn sycamore. Some areas were a bit punky, but overall the boards were sound and even had some interesting spalting. I had the offcuts leftover primarily because they were only figured along half of the board (the other half appeared to be from near a fork). The contrast didn’t work in my other project, but I really like the contrast in this small scale. I absolutely adore the figure of quartered sycamore. I wish I had some more!

The box is approximately 8×13 and stands 6 inches tall. The sides are 3/8 inch thick quartered sycamore box-jointed at the corners. Even the sound wood was leaning toward the punky side and box joints were probably not the best choice. Even though I taped the wood with packing tape prior to milling the joints, there is a small amount of blowout/ fiber tearout along the joint. I tried to maintain grain continuity by “wrapping” the re-sawn boards around the box. The lid and base accents are black walnut. The lid frame is mitered and keyed at the corners and hinged at the back with brass hinges. The finish is sprayed lacquer.


21 comments so far

View Rj's profile


1047 posts in 2266 days

#1 posted 1712 days ago

This is really nice! The Walnut goes great with the darker areas in the Sycamore and I’ll bet the grain from the Sycamore really shimmers in the light..

Your Mom will cherish this gift

-- Rj's Woodworks,San Jose & Weed Ca,

View tucsoncyclist's profile


96 posts in 1726 days

#2 posted 1712 days ago

That is one good looking box.

-- Marc - Tucson, AZ

View scrounger's profile


95 posts in 1718 days

#3 posted 1712 days ago

Great job Doc, I really like the wood and I’m sure your mother will treasure it always.

-- Dave, Southern IL.,

View CharlieM1958's profile


15691 posts in 2853 days

#4 posted 1712 days ago

Nice work. I love spalted sycamore too.

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

View wchips's profile


314 posts in 1722 days

#5 posted 1712 days ago

Nice looking box . Have a nice day Lee

-- wchips

View Hallmark's profile


432 posts in 1741 days

#6 posted 1711 days ago

Nice looking box, love the choice of wood. She should be pleased.

-- Style is simple, but not my execution of it.

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


112018 posts in 2212 days

#7 posted 1711 days ago

Great Box Doc and most intriguing figured wood

-- Custom furniture

View whitedog's profile


650 posts in 2092 days

#8 posted 1711 days ago

beautiful … i love the sycamore and the base really ties well with the lid

-- Paul , Calfornia

View griff's profile


1206 posts in 2396 days

#9 posted 1711 days ago

Very nice box Doc, I like the figures sycamore and the walnut really makes the lighter parts shine. Very good build

-- Mike, Bruce Mississippi = Jack of many trades master of none

View zlatanv's profile


689 posts in 1869 days

#10 posted 1711 days ago

Beautiful wood, and box!

-- Z, Rockwall, TX

View Monty Queen's profile

Monty Queen

1585 posts in 1886 days

#11 posted 1711 days ago

Great design, loveing it.

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

View Matt512's profile


2 posts in 1715 days

#12 posted 1711 days ago

Awesome box. I think the best pieces use wood with a story behind it. Great work!

View lightweightladylefty's profile


2639 posts in 2347 days

#13 posted 1711 days ago

Your mom will be delighted! It’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View ohwoodeye's profile


1008 posts in 1788 days

#14 posted 1711 days ago

I have a new mission. Dig through every pile of cow crap I encounter looking for a treasured piece of wood hidden underneath. Being from Wisconsin, there should be no shortage of manure piles to choose from.
Beautiful wood done one better by a beautifully designed and crafted box. This is one make-up box that can be left out on the bathroom counter for all to see.

-- Directions are just the Manufacturer's opinion on how something should be assembled. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

View scrappy's profile


3505 posts in 2065 days

#15 posted 1711 days ago

Fantastic box. Love the story behind it also. Great coloring in the spalt. Great build. I am sure your mother will treasure it.

Keep it up.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

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