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Cherry Pencil Box (#3)

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Project by RogerBean posted 1369 days ago 2876 views 16 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Cherry Pencil Box

This is the #3 of 3 in my little design exercise in search of a “simple beautiful box.” This one is a little more “formal” in approach, of plain cherry, and with a lift off lid. It’s the same size as the first two, 8×4 x 1 3/8”. The traditional 1/16” stringing is maple. The lift is ebony, and the lid inlays are of black mother of perarl.

The interior is lined with chocolate brown leather. The cherry is very tight grain and lends itself to a more formal mirror French polish, where the first two boxes in the series were a satin oil finish.

The last photo shows this box and the two earlier boxes side by side. There’s more on the first two in my projects section. Those familiar with his work will recognize a certain homage to the work of Andrew Crawford. www.fine-boxes.com Each time I think I’ve come with something new, it seems Andrew has already done something much like it. Credit where credit is due.

In any event, if you have a particular preference for one of the three, or another comment, I’d like to hear it …and why. My goal was to come up with three attractive, but different approaches to the same box, and hopefully learn something along the way. The boxes are OK, but I’m not sure how much I really accomplished here.

I can relay what I think I learned:

Proportion in itself is important. Apart from the overall size proportions, wall thickness seems to bear on the issue of appropriateness. Too thin and the object looks spindly, or weak. Too thick and it seems bloated and clunky. An oddly shaped box just looks odd.

I began this effort leaning heavy on the idea of simplicity. But, minimalism is not enough. While there is a certain Zen beauty to pure simplicity, is seems to come up somewhat lacking in the final result for a box. A beautiful box needs more.

Decoration: I’ve come to believe the decoration is a large part of what makes a box beautiful. If no decoration is insufficient, then too much seems no better, possibly worse. The choice of type, quantity, and nature of decorative inlays, stringing, and edging makes a huge difference. For example, had I simply added a whole lid of burl, rather than the small bordered inlays of burl (on boxes #1 and #2), the result would have seemed somehow “less.” As small inlays, the burl seems to join the beauty of the burl with a sense of craftsmanship, that seems somehow more attractive. I think a lot about this and struggle with it on each project.

NOTE: There are exceptions. Martyn’s (Britboxmaker) wonderful visual illusions can be very bold, yet the box seems completely in harmony. I think this is because the illusion (design) is the focus, not the box, per se. The box becomes the canvas upon which the picture is painted. (Martyn, your opinion here would be welcome…) These little pencil boxes of mine are quite different though, and the box itself is the point, so the decoration is supportive rather than central. The complete box must speak louder than the decoration. (if that makes any sense) “Horses for courses” as they say.

Well, the next project is back to complex boxes. I learned here, I guess, that there is much more to learn.

Thanks for looking in.

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





24 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15667 posts in 2821 days


#1 posted 1369 days ago

A great finish to the trio, Roger. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite, though.

I agree that too much decoration is worse than not enough. A few of my boxes have erred in that direction, and now I try to keep them simpler.

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

View CiscoKid's profile

CiscoKid

317 posts in 1476 days


#2 posted 1369 days ago

Wonderful craftsmanship. I love the lid lift. The lines are superb without being overdone in the least.

-- Al, Culpeper VA

View mafe's profile

mafe

9456 posts in 1692 days


#3 posted 1369 days ago

So elegant.
Best thoughts,
MaFe

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

View Chip's profile

Chip

1904 posts in 2695 days


#4 posted 1369 days ago

I really like this a lot. Delicate and airy… understated elegance. Wonderful job Roger. Perfect punctuation to your series. Sure wish it wasn’t the last of this type…

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

View stefang's profile

stefang

12592 posts in 1937 days


#5 posted 1369 days ago

Very nice inside and out Roger.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View zwwizard's profile

zwwizard

189 posts in 2312 days


#6 posted 1369 days ago

OK, you ask for it. The box is outstanding. But I don’t like the lid lift. To me it looks clunky. A long narrow lift about 3/4 of the box length would look better in my opinion. and go with the stringing on the top as well. Or leave the lift off entirely and go to tilt type lid. Put your inlays in like a diamond.

Just my $.02
Richard

-- Richard http://www.PictureTrail.com/gallery/view?username=thewizz

View RogerBean's profile

RogerBean

1094 posts in 1556 days


#7 posted 1369 days ago

Richard,
Well, you hit right on the main issue. I am ashamed to admit how much I struggled with the lift. The final was about the sixth iteration. If I were to do it again, I think the absence of a lift, with stringing on the lid, and a push down lid raise (push on end and other end lifts up) would be a superior solution. Unfortunately, I had committed to a lift of some kind, and the base was already glued up so that was out. I’ll send along the $50 gift certificate for your perception in pointing out the big weakness! Thanks.
Roger

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

View zwwizard's profile

zwwizard

189 posts in 2312 days


#8 posted 1368 days ago

Thanks for your understanding of my commits. I have a problem with some people who make boxes. They make a 3×5 box using 3/4” wood butt joints, with the hinges tacked on the outside of the box, and want $50.00 for the thing. Then accuse me for undercutting them in price, for a box of the same size with 3/8” side, finger joints and inset hinge, which I will get $15 to 25.00 for. Then I hear crying about they can’t cut the wood thiner, don’t have a band saw or don’t have a big table saw or———- or———. You get my drift. good luck with your boxes. If I can help you in every way, just ask.
Good luck
Richard

-- Richard http://www.PictureTrail.com/gallery/view?username=thewizz

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14612 posts in 2278 days


#9 posted 1368 days ago

Simple elegance

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Roger's profile

Roger

14166 posts in 1406 days


#10 posted 1368 days ago

Beautiful, beautiful boxes. I think the 3rd one could use the stringing on the top also. That’s my opinion. Still is a georgeous box. The handle is very modern, and elegant, but, so are the others. Besides, anybody that carries Roger as a name, well, has gotta be good!!!!!!!!!! hahaha

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112001 posts in 2180 days


#11 posted 1368 days ago

classic graceful design, very well done.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Maveric777's profile

Maveric777

2687 posts in 1679 days


#12 posted 1368 days ago

Another beauty Roger…. What I find funny about woodwork or even art for that matter is the interpretation of the viewer. I have seen projects here on LJ that some really liked….. and …. well …. to be honest… ones that I didn’t. There has been projects that I thought where phenomenal and …. well…. others apparently didn’t. Whats cool about art boxes like this (I say art because that is the way I see them) is they evolve, take on personalities, and basically tell their own stories. Then again I may be looking way to far into stuff like this…..lol

I think you did a great job on the pencil box Roger…..

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View tomd's profile

tomd

1727 posts in 2373 days


#13 posted 1368 days ago

Another beautiful box Roger, I have just finished Crawford’s second book and would like to try some of his ideas. Like you I also labor over every little detail, so many choices, so hard to decide which way to go. On decorations there is a fine line between too much and too little, I think I fall into to much, if some is good, then alot must be better. Nice job and brilliant workmanship.

-- Tom D

View twokidsnosleep's profile

twokidsnosleep

1063 posts in 1576 days


#14 posted 1368 days ago

Great size and shape, love the interior separation and lining

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View Millo's profile

Millo

543 posts in 1652 days


#15 posted 1368 days ago

wow, gorgeous… and thanks for your meditations on box design, great read.

showing 1 through 15 of 24 comments

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