Oak and walnut stationery box

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Project by stanley_clifton posted 07-11-2010 05:10 PM 6558 views 4 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This box is designed for our family’s use, as opposed to anything that might be a gift or possible future sale. It’s had to be rather more ‘designed’ than my stuff usually is, in order to make sure that paper, bottles of ink etc will actually fit in. The fact that it’s only me and my wife who will be examining it has made me more relaxed during its construction, I must say. This box should accommodate and rationalise a lot of the stationery stuff that we have accumulated; we may even be able to find what we want when we want it.

The carcase is oak, dovetailed together with a moulded walnut plinth fitted with mitre joints. Dividers and the lift-out tray are in sycamore. Two different walnut types have been used, basically because I didn’t have enough of one type. In addition, the piece used for the plinth was worm-eaten in one section: this proved impossible to cut out, I have therefore left it in for ‘character’. Reinforcing pins have been used on the mouldings and edgings, particularly where they are fitted to end grain.

Hand tools were used for the vast bulk of tasks, apart from the trusty band saw of course, although I did relent and use the router to cut the plinth mouldings and the shaping on the entirely decorative walnut block attached to the lid.

The finish is three coats of Danish oil, rubbed down between coats, with the final one applied with a nylon pan scourer.

Issues with this box include non-matching ironmongery and the joint tails ending up bigger than the pins, leaving really too much end-grain showing to the front. On the ironmongery, those hinges are difficult to get in Blighty,, never mind in ‘antique’, so they are in inappropriate ‘bright brass’. On the tails, I think that this was something to do with the need to compensate for the bottom edge sitting in the plinth rebate and for the plywood base rebate to emerge from end-grain so that it could be plugged; I still have not worked out how to do a stopped rebate with a 050 multi-plane. The mitre joints needed a little plugging, but this seems to have gone quite well and the plugging is not obvious until up close; I am determined to make myself a mitre shooting board this week, which should solve this problem.

Overall I am very pleased with the way this piece has turned out. Despite the issues raised, these are the best dovetails that I’ve done and fit very tightly. It’s also the first time that I’ve fitted a lock and this has worked quite well. I may standardise on oak and walnut for boxes as this combination does seem to work particularly well.

-- Stanley generally struggling

8 comments so far

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 3896 days

#1 posted 07-11-2010 06:24 PM

Lovely box Stanley. I do like the wormy bit!

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3329 days

#2 posted 07-11-2010 07:43 PM

Beautifully done. Your dovetail joints look nice and tight too. Lots of great details, worm holes and all.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Richard 's profile


394 posts in 3116 days

#3 posted 07-11-2010 07:53 PM

I think the joint tails work in this project, it makes the box look unique and one of a kind. I also like the tray details and the compartments in the bottom of the box. I like the worm holes. Overall I like the feel of this box, and I think it would make a wonderfull gift, since it isn’t your standard looking box, plus it has it’s own “character”.

-- Richard Boise, Idaho

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 3059 days

#4 posted 07-11-2010 08:08 PM

Real nice looking box. You did a great job..

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View Ken90712's profile


17556 posts in 3183 days

#5 posted 07-11-2010 08:23 PM

Great box looks perfect. Like the worm holes it adds character.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View JerBear's profile


22 posts in 3429 days

#6 posted 07-12-2010 12:38 AM

Sweet! I like the tray and the inside compartments beneath it, you can never have enough cubby holes. The varied layout of the bottom compartment adds an element of interest, nicely done. You were worried about the non-matching ironmongery, I wouldn’t concern yourself. The outside view looks very classic and handles look great, and once you open it your eye is drawn to the top tray and sub-compartments and not the handles. By the way, did you happen to use some old fashion nails on the worm hole trim? In any case, I can only hope to create a box like this someday.

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 3728 days

#7 posted 07-12-2010 04:08 AM

Very nice box. I really like the sycamore removable tray and the dovetails look very well done as well. This box would make a marvelous gift if that was what you wanted to do with it! The oak and walnut go well together and the qs sycamore is gorgeous. Nice job!


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View stanley_clifton's profile


195 posts in 3698 days

#8 posted 07-17-2010 01:44 PM

Thanks for all the nice comments.

-- Stanley generally struggling

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