Jewelry Box with Pinned Mortise & Tenons

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Project by doug_w posted 04-20-2011 11:02 PM 6498 views 21 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Before this project all of the mortise and tenon joints that I had made were purely to create strong joints and all were hidden, if not somewhat clumsily done. Then I found a design for an oriental box that I could not resist attempting as it was all about showing off mortise and tenon joints. The box features 22 exposed pinned mortise and tenons which required cutting mortises for the pins in each of the 22 tenons. There are an additional 4 blind pinned mortises to attach the corner rails to the bottom rail (foot) and 4 more blind mortise and tenons for the top rails. I ended up cutting a total of 52 mortises for the complete project. The box consists of a frame that holds the four drawers, with the sides of the drawers visible through the frame and therefore actually becoming the sides of the overall box. There is not a single drop of glue or fastener in the entire frame, and you can take it completely apart by removing all of the pins. I pinned the blind tenon to hold the corner rails to the bottom rail with a 1/8” dowel that went completely through the bottom rail, that way it could be pushed out to disassemble the frame. The frame is completely symmetric front to back as can be seen in the mirror in the first picture. The woods used were walnut and maple. The design is by Jeff Greef and can be found at Oriental Box of Drawers and he also has a nice tutorial about making the mortise & tenons for this project.

I especially like the way a single strip of wood is used to pin all four of the joints on each corner of the box. This maple strip is about 5/8” wide and a little less than 1/8” thick. The drawers use dovetail joints. Since I wanted it to be a jewelry box, and the three lower drawers were around 3 1/2” deep, I crafted insert treys that were also partitioned and lined with velvet to give me a total of seven partitioned areas that allow for a lot of items. You can see the drawers and treys in the last photo. I liked the way it turned out so much that I constructed another one that I enhanced with what I learned doing this one. I just finished it and will post it later today.

Thanks for looking.

-- Doug, Georgia

10 comments so far

View bhog's profile


2238 posts in 2889 days

#1 posted 04-21-2011 02:11 AM

turned out awesome, I really like it.

-- I don't drive a Prius.

View levan's profile


472 posts in 3178 days

#2 posted 04-21-2011 04:50 AM

That is one cool project Doug. What an exercise in joinery. Nicely done

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3776 days

#3 posted 04-21-2011 05:49 AM

Great design and so well done.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View majuvla's profile


13353 posts in 3066 days

#4 posted 04-21-2011 08:39 AM

Unique still you have.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Gary's profile


1325 posts in 4523 days

#5 posted 04-21-2011 11:48 AM

Good craftsmanship; well done.

-- Gary, Florida

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3055 days

#6 posted 04-21-2011 04:15 PM

Very nice.
Very neat & unique design.


-- 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 rance's profile


4266 posts in 3359 days

#7 posted 04-21-2011 05:03 PM

Very nice job. I like the design too. I’ll have to go take a look at his M&T tutorial. Thanks for posting. FWIW, I like your color choice better.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View degoose's profile


7244 posts in 3553 days

#8 posted 04-22-2011 12:33 AM

Very impressive

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 3394 days

#9 posted 04-25-2011 11:36 PM

Beautiful jewelery box.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View KenBee's profile


109 posts in 2834 days

#10 posted 05-24-2011 02:45 AM

Beautiful job on that box sir.

I also have the plans for this same box and my major problem in building it is, what kind of wood to use. Teak would be appropriate with some jade inlays and drawer pulls to go along with the oriental theme. Decisions, decisions all I am ever faced with is decisions.

-- If it won't fit get a BIGGER hammer.

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