Shaped Front Walnut Burl Man-Box

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Project by RogerBean posted 1286 days ago 4457 views 29 times favorited 54 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This box is for a friend in London who has been gracious in hosting my wife and I, so I decided to make him a box. The idea is to make a box for a man, instead of a jewelry box for a woman. The compartments are sized more for a man. While not a period piece per se, it is intended to speak to work of the various Federal Period furniture makers. It is 7 1/2” x 9” x 4” high.

A number of things here are a bit different. Most obvious, is the shaped front. The design is influenced by the colonial knife boxes of the 18th century. These had lovely curvaceous fronts that I’ve admired for a long time. But, I’ve not seen it elsewhere. So why not do something similar in a regular box? I think I finally found something Andrew Crawford ( has not done before! :-))

The substrate is Baltic birch ply. The front is shaped from MDF. It is veneered in walnut burl. The lid is a four-way book match. The sides are cut from four sequential sheets, to be nearly identical. The edging is boxwood. I also wanted to try an applied carving on a box. This one is a carved (chisel) scallop shell in figured claro walnut; a cutoff from a very nice gun stock blank.

The cocobolo trays have larger divisions sized for things men typically keep. They get progressively larger as one proceeds downward.

The interior is lined with a dark green leather. Some of the old English boxes of the 18th and 19th centuries included a “document compartment” in the lid. I included one in this box. The embroidered monogram was done by a local embroidery firm. As I probably mentioned in earlier posts, I like the interior to be at least as important as the outside of a box. To open a box and find… nothing… is disappointing. So, I try to surprise, not disappoint.

The hinges are the gold plated machined brass units from The full-mortise lock and brass escutcheon are from

The finish is French polish. It takes a couple weeks to complete properly, but it’s worth the effort to get the perfectly clear, glass smooth finish. The color is natural.

Folks often ask how many hours it takes to make a box like this. I don’t really keep close count, but it’s probably well over a hundred hours in the shop, plus quite a few in the “thinking” stages. It’s not a project to knock out over a weekend.

I make a few solid wood boxes, but it’s the veneered boxes that really interest me. The combinations, the matching, the decoration, all provide limitless possibilities and challenges. On this box, fitting the face lines and edges to the tight curves were the most difficult, and it took a while to figure out the document compartment. I was curious how many separate “parts” were in this box. I counted to 196, but probably missed a few.

Thanks for looking in.

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

54 comments so far

View CJay's profile


133 posts in 1865 days

#1 posted 1286 days ago

Amazing, love the draw linings. Are those the Andrew Crawford smart hinges?

PS. thanks again for the book recomendations. They arrived today, can’t wait to try some.

-- Chris Boreham, Oxfordshire, UK - -

View Jordan's profile


1358 posts in 1759 days

#2 posted 1286 days ago



View shipwright's profile


4935 posts in 1432 days

#3 posted 1286 days ago

Really, Really Nice Roger.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

View fernandoindia's profile


1073 posts in 1578 days

#4 posted 1285 days ago

gorgeous, estupendo,

thanks for posting

-- Back home. Fernando

View bibb's profile


289 posts in 2165 days

#5 posted 1285 days ago

Roger, that is great workmanship, design and execution. I see I have a long way to go before I will be considered a box maker. But hey, the journey is half the fun!
cheers and thanks for the Andrew Crawford info. I want to try some of those hinges.

-- "Imagination is more important than knowledge" Bibb in CO at

View peteg's profile


2865 posts in 1457 days

#6 posted 1285 days ago

Wow we have some very tallented box makers in LJ’s, this one is right up there with them, great job Roger

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 1684 days

#7 posted 1285 days ago

MArvelous, inspiring. Do you work w/ a vacuum press?

View wasmithee's profile


55 posts in 1327 days

#8 posted 1285 days ago

Very nice.

View jbschutz's profile


386 posts in 1326 days

#9 posted 1285 days ago

Incredibly beautiful, Roger. You have shown us something to which we may aspire. The attention to detail and the craftsmanship are amazing. The design, the choice of veneer, the monogram, every thing about this box makes me think old-world master. Congratulations!

-- jbschutz

View RogerBean's profile (online now)


1127 posts in 1588 days

#10 posted 1285 days ago

The hinges are not Andrew’s new “SmartHinges”. Unfortunately, they are not available here in the US yet. But I plan to fill my pockets with them when I see him in May. I’m anxious to give them a try.

I do not use a vacuum press. The sides of the box are veneered after the lid is severed so as not to get a veneer mismatch from removing the 1/8th inch cut. Hence each individual piece, ten pieces for the four sides in this case, are done with clamps and forms, one at a time. For flat pieces I use a little Grizzly press ($62) that works great up to about 12” x 18”. For small work, this approach is quite efficient.


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

View David Drummond's profile

David Drummond

86 posts in 1299 days

#11 posted 1285 days ago

Incredible… I can only imagine the time and and amount of thinking required on this project. I would like to learn more about veneering. Any tips on techniques, resources or required tools?

-- "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do... Explore, Dream, Discover” Mark Twain

View Monty Queen's profile

Monty Queen

1585 posts in 1886 days

#12 posted 1285 days ago

Roger, Wow your boxes are awesome, one of the best boxes i have seen on this sight. I have never worked with veneer before. One day i will try to make a box using veneer. Great craftsmanship.

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

View bigike's profile


4031 posts in 1923 days

#13 posted 1285 days ago

dam RB another very exquisite piece, nice work.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 2623 days

#14 posted 1285 days ago

That’s a great looking box! Excellent job.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 2881 days

#15 posted 1285 days ago

Gorgeous box, I love the veneer and inlay. Great art.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

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