Valet for my Boss

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Project by Blake posted 02-18-2008 12:34 AM 8820 views 96 times favorited 40 comments Add to Favorites Watch

———————————————————————————————————————————————————- FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT MY WEBSITE:
I finally finished this box! This box (or “valet”) is for my boss in trade for tools that I took home from the used tool store (where I work) several months ago. He has been nice about encouraging my passion, and letting me build him boxes has been great practice and has allowed me to acquire some awesome new (used) tools.

The agreement was that I would build a jewelry box for his wife (already posted here) and a valet for him. Some of the tools that I got as part of the trade were a Jet Air filter, a Delta Hollow Chisel Mortising Machine, along with several smaller items and hand tools (I think I got the better end of the bargain!)

My boss had come up with the idea of a valet, and I spent quite a bit of time with him tying to design it for how he wanted it to look and work. There are a lot of commercially made valets on the internet that didn’t appeal to him. He wanted something that would keep his cell phone, PDA and mp3 player charged, and allow a place for a wallet, incoming or outgoing mail, and other miscellaneous items. This is what we came up with.

I had a pretty good idea in my head and on paper of what I was going to build. But something just wasn’t right, although I couldn’t put a finger on it. It really had me frustrated for a while. I think this is why I put it off for so long. Finally I built up the courage to give Todd a call and ask for some design advice.

He promptly emailed me some sketches and photos with some great ideas and it all fell into place. He also called me and we talked on the phone for over an hour about this project and woodworking in general. All I can say is what a nice guy, and a pro, and I look foreword to the day I can meet him in person and see his work.

I had to include the drawing he sent me because it is just so cool:

Anyway, The overall design had not changed, but he was able to point out some of the details that really brought the box to life. He helped give me a clear vision of the project and for the first time I was actually excited to get started. (Thanks Todd!)

The front compartment is lined with suede but under the suede there is a 1/2” gap that runs along the top and bottom of that section. This way cords can easily be pushed up through the base to charge the electronics. There is also space underneath the box and small arched holes in the back so they can easily run under the box and out the back.

I spent a lot of time shaping the lid edges and pull. I did this mostly with power sanders including a mini disk sander chucked up in my cordless drill. I originally used a quarter round-over bit in the router table to shape the lid sides but it ended up looking very commercial and boring. After a lot of power sanding I achieved this nice “pillow top” look which I believe is much more organic. The finger pull has a nice soft feel to it when you grab it. It almost feels like your fingers have shaped it over time.

I wish the photos did that Walnut lid justice. The figure is wavy and feathery from where a branch grew nearby. The grain and the figure both intersect at the lid pull.

The Specs: Philippine Mahogany and Black Walnut, box joints on the new Incra Router Table (slick man, slick), brass pins to hinge the lid, lid shaped mostly by power sanding, oiled with boiled linseed oil, all compartments lined with sued, size: 10” x 14” x 3 1/2”.

A few more photos:

I am really happy with this one and it’s nice to build another box again because it seems like it’s been a while.

-- Happy woodworking!

40 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3985 days

#1 posted 02-18-2008 01:08 AM

Looks cool. I like the grain pattern on the lid!

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

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4050 days

#2 posted 02-18-2008 01:11 AM

That’s pretty dang nice Blake. Nice box joints. Love the mahogany & walnut combination. And you’re right, I think you made out like a bandit.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4060 days

#3 posted 02-18-2008 01:28 AM

Very cool on so many levels. I’m glad to hear of your collaborative process with Todd on this, and it’s an extremely handsome and functional piece. That sculpted lid/tab is so sweet! I really like the off-center location of the tab and the way you worked the color disparity in the walnut into a sense of movement. I have been stuck for months in a creative and weather-induced coma (hard to get psyched about woodworking in a sub-freezing workshop). Got to make something with ideas based from you two fellas work together. Thanks Guys!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4090 days

#4 posted 02-18-2008 01:31 AM

Great work Blake. I like everything about it.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 3876 days

#5 posted 02-18-2008 01:54 AM

thats a class act blake . as your projects usually are . you also picked a great go to guy . keep up the great work

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3792 days

#6 posted 02-18-2008 01:55 AM

Great job Blake! I suspect your boss is thinking that he got the better end of the deal now ;)

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3871 days

#7 posted 02-18-2008 02:18 AM

Thanks for all the nice comments, everyone! You are all too kind.

I just delivered it to my boss and he was ecstatic. I wish I didn’t have to give it away, I really like this one. But knowing how much he appreciated it helped me let go. I might make another one for myself.

I guess you could say this is my belated “Not just any box” entry.

-- Happy woodworking!

View mjlauro's profile


244 posts in 3757 days

#8 posted 02-18-2008 02:18 AM

Great Job Blake, Looks awesome.

View Grumpy's profile


23916 posts in 3847 days

#9 posted 02-18-2008 02:19 AM

You should keep that job forever Blake. Nice work on the project.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4096 days

#10 posted 02-18-2008 02:36 AM

Blake, WOW! What can I say? Great interpretation of a valet. I am so humbled that you asked for my input but it is your interpretation and skill that brought it to life.

Great choices on the options we talked about. You know what else is great about it? The way that you placed the grain, handle, and knot of the black walnut. That really says a lot for your sense of design and balance.

Very clean and tight work. Nice mix of wood, but not overdone. The simplicity is it’s sophistication.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Rymann's profile


11 posts in 3774 days

#11 posted 02-18-2008 02:45 AM

Incredible. And incredibly executed. Very nice!

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3818 days

#12 posted 02-18-2008 02:59 AM

Very nice Blake. But to be honest I am not sure who got the better deal here. The walnut is gorgeous.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 3803 days

#13 posted 02-18-2008 03:17 AM

Hi Blake,

The valet is awesome. The walnut top and mahogany make a great combo. I love the top detail along with the box joints. Flawlessly executed.

View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3931 days

#14 posted 02-18-2008 03:36 AM

Blake that looks great. The lid and the placement of the handleand the knot in the wood just makes it look really cool. Far betterthen those found in stores or online.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4215 days

#15 posted 02-18-2008 04:40 AM

Blake, I’m blown away by this piece! It is awesome in every way…. functionality, construction, and beauty. This sucker has it all. Looks like you have scored well in the tool department, too.

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

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