|Project by RogerBean||posted 07-26-2011 01:51 PM||5537 views||37 times favorited||53 comments|
This maple burl box is the third shaped front box I’ve made. While the shape is not directly taken from any existing piece I know of, it’s intended to speak to the 1800 – 1830 period. The front shape is more complex to build and involves many small pieces and converging angles caused by the curved lid meeting the shaped front. A straight sided, rectangular box now seems comparatively straightforward. (Though I enjoy making them as well.)
Some details: The box is 10 1/8” wide by 7 1/4” deep by 4 3/4” high. The substrate is Baltic birch ply and MDF, veneered with a really special “coral heart maple burl” from B&B Rare Woods, and now long gone. (Interestingly, this veneer was quite pink when raw, but has toned off to more golden with the added French polish.)
Veneer that would be spectacular on a table top, usually doesn’t excel on a box, insofar as the patterns and sheets tend to be too big, or too consistent, and hence come out somewhat bland on a small box. To my taste, ideal box veneer has high contrast, vivid colors, and very tight, small patterns. In other words, a lot going on in a very small space because you’re usually matching pieces only 4 by 6 inches or so. The coloring in this piece is unlike any maple I’ve seen. I decided to let the lid and front flow over the top edge from the same book-matched piece of veneer. The sides and back are matched up with the lid and front so the pattern flows around, and into the lid.
The edging is boxwood, outlined by a fine inlayed line of black/black/pear/black. The inner edge of the lid and base are accented with a black/maple/black line that runs into the side rail quadrant hinges. The full mortise lock and brass escutcheon from WhiteChapel have been polished to match the hinges. This box has my usual side rail quadrant hinges, as I had installed them prior to receiving my first shipment of the great new SmartHInges (which I plan to use on future projects).
The interior is lined with claret leather. I like unexpected details in the interior, so this one contains a tray, with shaped dividers and two separate interior boxes. The tray is Jacaranda rosewood, while the two small boxes are veneered with pippy English yew outside and lined inside with very plain white maple. Lids are solid, of figured claro walnut, bookmatched to mirror each other. The turned oosik lifts are inlayed with a small bit of mother of pearl. There is also a small 5/8” high “secret document compartment” inside a false bottom. Pressing firmly on one end lifts the panel. (I’d include a photo, but then it wouldn’t be a secret.) :-)
The base of the main box is edged with solid maple (to cover the ply and MDF) and the bottom is veneered in a curly maple, but I’ve since covered it with leather, as the curly maple seemed out of place. I like the idea that you can turn a fine box any way you want, including upside down, and every aspect is carefully finished, and hopefully delights the eye.
The front is, not surprisingly, the most challenging part, involving many separate veneering operations, inlayed lines, and pieces of boxwood edging. The downward slope of the lid creates odd angles, so nearly all the lines and pieces needed to be fitted with a scalpel and chisel. A necessity, but then this box is all about small details, anyway.
I make no secret of the design and craftsmanship debt I owe to Andrew Crawford. Both for his books and the time I’ve been fortunate to spend with him. I am, in no way, his equal, but perhaps he will smile a bit at this modified, periodized “shaped-front” attempt at emulating his work. :-)
Thanks for looking in. ...and keep making boxes!
-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)