First project! Walnut and colcobolo jewelry box

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Project by Pablo83 posted 1430 days ago 1353 views 4 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi LJ’s, long time lurker, first time poster here (in the projects section, at least)

I built this as a gift for my girlfriend for her birthday, and for finishing nursing school (got to love those ‘kills two birds with one stone’ gifts!)

It is walnut with cocobolo edge banding, cherry drawer sides/dividers, black velvet lining and brass hardware. Approx 8×12x6.5”. This project was quite the journey for me, mainly because I had to make due with limited tools. For example, when cutting the half-blind dovetails in the drawer (I don’t have a router) I realized I only had old, dull chisels. And no grinding wheel. So I read up on ScarySharp, and after scrounging around for some plate glass and putting in a little elbow grease I FINALLY had suitable chisels to attempt hand cutting these things! Come to think of it, I think the only power tools I used were a planer, table saw (with no dado blade!) and 1/4 sheet sander.

For the finish, after much fretting and worrying I finally chose BLO to start (on sample pieces I found it gave a better look then tung oil, and two types of watco oil) followed by an attempt at french polish with orange shellac, then wax. I filled the grain by pumice rubbing the first few layers of the shellac. I don’t think I got the french polish method quite licked, but it sure did turn out shiny and smooth, and my forearms are now somehow 3 times the size that they were when I started finishing…. hmmm…

If I did it again I would: 1) use a different layout/proportion for the dovetails. After reading so much on how to do them, I was so excited to lay them out and start cutting I didn’t give too much thought to how they’d actually look. 2) Maybe use a different accent wood then cocobolo. While beautiful, it was a #$%@ to work with, and the most striking colours (streaks of cream, purple, black) have since mellowed into the (still striking, IMHO) orange and brown you see in the pictures. 3) take wood expansion/contraction into great consideration. The 3-way mitres of cocobolo have opened up EVER so slightly (was cut/glued up during a heat wave around 30C, it’s now around 10C… pretty much the most swing in temp/humidity we get here). It’s amazing actually, since I built the box whole then sawed off the lid on the TS the edge banding and lid were perfectly flush… now when you close the box, you can notice around a strong 1/32” gap on all 4 corners were the banding meets, as it’s shrunk more then the walnut which is cross grained in relation to it.

I would like to say thank you to CharlieM1958 for helping me with a finishing question, and RogerBean for inspiring me by making such nice boxes that it makes mine look like something a 4th grader hacked together in an afternoon :). Seriously, if you haven’t checked out his Walnut Veneer Curved box it will blow your mind. (BLO your mind, maybe?)

The girlfriend was speechless when I gave her the gift (she had seen it in construction, but not finished and couldn’t picture how it would turn out). So were her parents… and friends… and co-workers. I now have requests to make a few more!

Thanks for looking!

20 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


15691 posts in 2851 days

#1 posted 1430 days ago

Pablo, this box has a lot going for it, and it sounds like you had a great learning experience with it. Congratulations!

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

View grizzman's profile


6942 posts in 1936 days

#2 posted 1430 days ago

well i would say you did more then a respectful job here…your box is very beautiful…for a first time can go to the head of the class….pass go and collect your 200 bucks..very nice…im sure the next ones you do will be very welcome into the homes they go to…you certainly have the talent and that is a fact…charlie is a wonderful wood worker himself…and any wood working advise from him is money in the bank…grizzman

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View FaTToaD's profile


379 posts in 1774 days

#3 posted 1430 days ago

Wow! If that’s your first box, I can’t wait to see what you come up with in a few years. I’m too embarrassed to even put my first box on here. Something about stained pine with glue spots doesn’t hold up against stuff like this. Great job!

-- David

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 2726 days

#4 posted 1430 days ago

Classic piece of woodworking Pablo. I have no doubt your girlfriend was impressed. Can imagine her parents were also (very important Pablo! lol). Great work and I look forward to seeing more of your boxes in the future. Thanks for letting us see this.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View kenn's profile


785 posts in 2353 days

#5 posted 1430 days ago

This is a wonderful box, hard to see any faults, and certainly fantastic for a first time project. I’d think that it made a great impression on the girlfriend’s parents and should move you way up the list in their eyes. Thanks for sharing.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View LEITH's profile


171 posts in 1491 days

#6 posted 1430 days ago

Very nice work!


View 2xsurvivor's profile


22 posts in 1917 days

#7 posted 1430 days ago

Awesome Job!!! if that is your first project you don’t even want to see mine, great job.

-- 2Xsurvivor joec in SoCal

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 2407 days

#8 posted 1430 days ago

Beautiful box! Very nicely done. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View mafe's profile


9492 posts in 1722 days

#9 posted 1430 days ago

Yes a beautiful box, you have a vlucky girlfriend.
Best thoughts,

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Ken90712's profile


14878 posts in 1822 days

#10 posted 1430 days ago

I’m sure she loved it as its a beautiful box you have done well. Keep it up.

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

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4119 posts in 1490 days

#11 posted 1430 days ago

Wow, that is nice and great build quality.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Triumph1's profile


833 posts in 1712 days

#12 posted 1430 days ago

Man..if that is your first project I can’t wait to see what is in store. Beautiful craftsmanship on this. Yes…Roger does makes some really, really nice boxes! well now you may be hooked…box making is seriously addictive!

-- Jeff , Illinois Please...can I stay in the basement a little longer, please!

View 489tad's profile


2291 posts in 1645 days

#13 posted 1430 days ago

Welcome. Very nice job on the joints and finish.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View RogerBean's profile


1127 posts in 1587 days

#14 posted 1430 days ago

Well done Pablo. Nice work. Despite whatever limitations you may have had in tools, your craftsmanship doesn’t seem to have suffered. The three way miters can be tricky, and yours appear very well executed. The expansion/contraction issues you mention are the main reason I choose to use a stable substrate and veneer. It’s not the only reason, but it’s a good one, particularly on larger boxes. Your finish also looks great. My compliments. Make more boxes.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View dustyal's profile


1196 posts in 2108 days

#15 posted 1430 days ago

Beautifully done. It is the drawer design that has been requested from me… and I have yet to do a drawer. Hope mine will turn out something remotely close to yours… Great construction and finish.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

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