Keepsake Box - Ebony/Maple

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Project by Woodhacker posted 2300 days ago 2373 views 11 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This box was a gift for my niece (Andrea). The overall dimensions are 9 3/4 inches by 7 inches deep by 3 1/4 high. The top front & back are all “tiger-striped” maple. I was really pleased with the grain in the top. The picture doesn’t show it very well, but as light angles change there is an incredible amout of depth to the stripes. Short of having a one piece top, my one wish though would have been to have bookmatched grain in the top pieces…the glue line is a little too obvious as it is and a little distracting.

The sides and inlay are gaboon ebony. The ebony was actually purcahsed from a luthier’s supply company, and was sold as a blank for a fingerboard…a wide fingerboard. It worked perfectly for this project though, and I was fortunate to have purchased several of these fingerboard blanks which all had nearly zero white streaks in them.

The ebony inlay was a little tricky, with ebony being so brittle, when dealing with such an intricate inlay. It’s all one piece and the font style for the “A” was downloaded from one of those “free font” sets you can get online. The piece I inlaid was actually the second try, since the first one broke apart while I was scrolling it out…it was nearly completed too.

I used a router/jig for the box joints which are 1/4 inch wide and deep. Like several of my other keepsake boxes I strived for a glass-smooth finish on this one. Using two very closed grained woods like this made that a little easier. If I recall correctly I believe I wiped on 8 coats of poly/oil blend after a sealer coat. The final coat was sanded up to 1500 grit and polished with Behlens buffer’s polish after allowing it to cure for a week or so.

The top is rabbeted into the sides. The base is red oak and is also rabbeted into the sides. Black felt covers the base inside and out. An 1/8 inch round over bit was used on my router/table to smooth all the edges. I used a solid brass latch and a 95 degree stop piano style hinge in back. Notice that since the stock is only 1/4 inch thick, and since I mortised the latch into the front, I had to form and glue backing supports for both the upper and lower pieces of the latch to accept the screws that hold the latch in place.

-- Martin, Kansas

14 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2455 days

#1 posted 2300 days ago


This is a beautiful box. I love the contrast between the maple and ebony and you did a good job on the box joint spacing as well. I am sure that your niece loved it.

Very nice!!

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

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 2401 days

#2 posted 2300 days ago

wow that is a beautiful box. the figured maple and the ebony look great together. i love the inlay too. great job!

View SPalm's profile


4791 posts in 2515 days

#3 posted 2300 days ago

WOW. Good job and what a finish. That inlay is impressive.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View davidtheboxmaker's profile


373 posts in 2438 days

#4 posted 2300 days ago

That’s another very fine box. The ‘extra’ piece of wood to hold the lock screws doesn’t look at all out of place – nice solution to the problem. The inlaid A is really very good.

View trifern's profile


8132 posts in 2400 days

#5 posted 2300 days ago

Beautiful box with gorgeous grain. Nice job.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 2621 days

#6 posted 2300 days ago

Great looking box! That must have been a challange not chipping out that ebony!

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

View jjohn's profile


390 posts in 2347 days

#7 posted 2300 days ago

Truly a great looking box. Well done on all points.

-- JJohn

View Blake's profile


3437 posts in 2507 days

#8 posted 2300 days ago

Man, this is gorgeous! Great details, great execution… beautiful and flawless. Excellent design too. She will love it, (and so do I!)

-- Happy woodworking!

View Bradford's profile


1434 posts in 2456 days

#9 posted 2299 days ago

Exceptional craftsmanship, execution of design and contrasts, and well explained.

-- so much wood, so little time. Bradford. Wood-a-holics unanimous president

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3963 posts in 2697 days

#10 posted 2299 days ago

You have that inlay technique down! This box is gorgeous in every way. I was particularly taken with the blocking on the inside that allows you to mount the clasp. The way it was radiused makes it part and parcel of the overall design. I think that is a small flash of genius, still allowing you to use thin woods for the remainder of the project.
Good stuff, Martin.

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

View Billp's profile


784 posts in 2833 days

#11 posted 2299 days ago

Very nice Martin,thats one great looking box.

-- Billp

View Jon3's profile


494 posts in 2738 days

#12 posted 2298 days ago

Who makes that latch? It looks nice.

View Woodhacker's profile


1139 posts in 2356 days

#13 posted 2298 days ago

Jon3 – I get these latches at Woodcraft, see this link…

-- Martin, Kansas

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1821 posts in 2305 days

#14 posted 2238 days ago

Blake described it right….......just flawless. Man your finishing technique is perfect, great job!!

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

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