An Oak Burl Man-Box

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Project by RogerBean posted 06-03-2011 10:16 PM 5006 views 38 times favorited 56 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Finally finished the second shaped-front man box. It’s 10 ¼” x 8” x 4 ¼” high, and veneered in an oak burl, with a four way book-match on the lid and edged with boxwood. The finish is French polish over Liberon spirit sanding sealer. The side rail hinges are from, and the full mortise lock and escutcheon is from

The substrate is baltic birch ply, MDF, and edged with solid walnut to provide a finished bottom edge. The inset panel in the bottom is covered with the same blue leather as the lining. Small white/;black/white lines border the inside of the lid/base opening to provide a crisp delineation between the veneer edge and the blue leather lining.

I embarked on the shaped front idea with the walnut box I posted a couple months ago, and have been experimenting with different, and increasingly complex front shapes. For example, there are fourteen separate pieces of veneer on the front of this box. (plus the edging and inlays) The various converging curves present some unique problems for the veneer matching, joining the edging, and placing the line inlays. The shaped front is unquestionably the most difficult part of this box.

I considered a carved shell or an inlay on the lid, but it seemed to look better without. I chose the simple brass lock escutcheon to complement the period nature of the design. I like to avoid unfinished surfaces anywhere on a box, so the bottom of this one is upholstered with the same blue leather as the lining instead of my usual veneer treatment.

I think it’s fun to provide pleasant surprises on the interior of a box. To me, an unlined box is, well, unfinished. (That’s just my opinion, and not intended to be a shot at anyone who prefers to leave the inside unlined.) So I continue to look for new and interesting ways to finish off the interior of a box (though this particular interior is pretty simple). It has only a single tray of Asian satinwood, divided to hold a man’s watches and/or pens. The dividers are secured with decorative brass pins, and the bottom of the tray is veneered in the same oak burl.

I’ve lately been experimenting with embroidered monograms or patterns on the leather lining, and in this case added a Celtic knot to the inside of the lid. Ideally, to my thinking, such decoration should have some significance or meaning, and not just randomly selected. The “endless knot or eternal knot” patterns (there are many) have a very long history extending at least as far back as the Romans, as well as the middle-east and far east. It usually indicates the connectedness of all things. The idea, at least, is to continue enriching the viewing experience on into the interior of the box. We’re always eager to touch and open a box, so why should we be disappointed when we get inside? Anyway, I wanted something more than a single tray, hence the symbolic knot pattern.

In any event, it’s been a fun and challenging project. I really do enjoy making these things. There are a couple more variations on the shaped-front theme in the project pipeline which will probably show up in a few weeks.

Thanks for looking in.


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

56 comments so far

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2698 posts in 2133 days

#1 posted 06-03-2011 10:19 PM

Absolutely incredible

Thank you for showing it to us!

-- She thought I hung the moon--now she just thinks I did it wrong

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2475 posts in 2439 days

#2 posted 06-03-2011 10:36 PM

WOW!! Beautiful, you did a excellent job on this box.

-- Dennis Zongker

View fernandoindia's profile


1079 posts in 1791 days

#3 posted 06-03-2011 10:37 PM

Beautiful work Roger. Love it, as all of your boxes.

Thanks for posting.

-- Back home. Fernando

View smitty22's profile


634 posts in 1794 days

#4 posted 06-03-2011 10:38 PM

Fit for a king! Thanks for the background and construction details, enjoyed your post a bunch!

-- Smitty

View DaddyZ's profile


2450 posts in 1887 days

#5 posted 06-03-2011 11:50 PM

Sweet !!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View littlecope's profile


2984 posts in 2349 days

#6 posted 06-04-2011 12:05 AM

Nothing short of Masterful Roger…
It’s a treat to view your beautiful work Sir!!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View peteg's profile


3100 posts in 1670 days

#7 posted 06-04-2011 12:06 AM

Fantastic piece Roger :)

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

View TonyWard's profile


748 posts in 3175 days

#8 posted 06-04-2011 12:06 AM


Amazing work, well done. A treasure for many generations to come.

-- Bandsawn Box Plans available at ~

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 2172 days

#9 posted 06-04-2011 12:20 AM


View jbschutz's profile


440 posts in 1538 days

#10 posted 06-04-2011 12:54 AM

Gulp. This is jaw-dropping beautiful, elegant. The shape and flow of the front scallops is rhythmic and yet, solid. The leather interior and bottom is regal. It has a truly old-world craftsmanship look to it, as do all of your boxes. I think it is my favorite…..until your next one.

-- jbschutz

View Eric_S's profile


1521 posts in 2042 days

#11 posted 06-04-2011 12:55 AM

Wow Roger. Incredible looking box. That veneering job is remarkable as is the quality of the box itself. Beautiful craftsmanship.

-- - Eric Indianapolis, IN

View Douger's profile


71 posts in 1533 days

#12 posted 06-04-2011 01:00 AM

Wow…beautiful. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with a project like this one. Great work!


-- Doug, Kansas,

View cwdance1's profile


1145 posts in 2106 days

#13 posted 06-04-2011 01:02 AM

Beautiful wood and fine craftsmanship. Wonderful

View kosta's profile


946 posts in 2202 days

#14 posted 06-04-2011 01:15 AM

nice box man

-- kosta Virginia Beach, VA

View Roger's profile


16282 posts in 1651 days

#15 posted 06-04-2011 01:44 AM

WOW! that is just Celtic Cool.. too very awesome.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

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