Box from re-purposed mahogany flooring

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Project by DaleMaley posted 07-18-2013 12:08 AM 1177 views 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The June 2013 Issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine has a small chest design that caught my eye.

This project was really outside the realm of my current woodworking skills. I have cut less than 50 hand-cut dovetails, and they were not pretty looking enough for this type of project. I also have never done any type of inlay work either. I never have used old-fashioned cut nails either (I remember pulling big ones out from old houses when I was a kid, but never re-used them).

I bought about 100 feet of mahogany flooring for $25 at a Restore (Habitat for Humanity) store. I used the belt sander to remove most of the finished side, before I ran it through my planer. There are 2 grooves in the bottom which must be planed down also. I was able to net 9/16” thick stock, which is what this project called for.

I decided to make a little box as practice for making the 1747 Hannah’s chest. I’m glad I did, because I learned a lot on this project.

The inlay is made from holly veneer. I had to glue up about 4 thicknesses of veneer and then saw out the 1/16” wide inlays. I bought the special compass style cutter from Lie Nielsen for the inlay work.

To see my trials & tribulations of making this box, see my web site.

-- Dale, Illinois,

4 comments so far

View Ken90712's profile


17575 posts in 3331 days

#1 posted 07-18-2013 08:19 AM

Nice work, well done….

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View maplerock's profile


529 posts in 1942 days

#2 posted 07-19-2013 12:14 AM

Very nice! Did you cut the dovetails by hand? It’s great to find ways to get free wood that can look this good.

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

View WoodenFrog's profile


2737 posts in 3055 days

#3 posted 07-19-2013 09:00 AM

Very nice work! Very nice save of the Wood!!
Keep up the great work.

-- Robert B. Sabina, Ohio.....

View DaleMaley's profile


440 posts in 2378 days

#4 posted 07-19-2013 11:42 AM

I hand sawed the dovetails, but this mahogany is so hard, I was unable to cut it with a chisel, even a brand new very sharp chisel. I used the scroll saw to cut out the pieces after I hand sawed them.

The first 4 pieces I tried to make pretty looking hand-cut dovetails did not turn out so well. In the next picture, you can see round #1 and round #2…...

Once I got my technique figured out, the 2nd box of hand-cut dovetails looked pretty nice…...which I then decided to make into a finished box.

There are downsides to using surplus or scrap flooring. You must belt sand off the shiny finish before planning, or it will dull your planning knives. You also only net a maximum thickness of 9/16” after planning. You not only have to finish plane the shiny side, you have to remove the 2 grooves in the underside also. You also have to be selective on what parts of the boards to use, because some of the grain is not as attractive as other sections. The commercially finished mahogany flooring must use a reddish stain to even out the differences in grain color. The commercial finish is so consistent, it almost seems more like painted than stained. I like my natural no-stain and only polyurethane finish look better. I did 4 rounds of 220 grit and polyurethane on this box.

The cost to buy new mahogany from Rockler would be $160 to build the full-size Hannah’s 1747 chest. I only paid $25 for about 100 feet of flooring…......but I will have extra labor in doing the belt sanding and plane work.

-- Dale, Illinois,

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