Scallop Shell Box

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Project by johnhutchinson posted 12-20-2013 02:55 PM 1816 views 3 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I was the illustrator for Popular Woodworking Magazine, I came up with a rotary/variable-angle router jig that I thought would be useful for any number of projects. Then-editor Chris Schwarz decided that it wasn’t appropriate for an article because, in his words, “It would take a book to describe it.” As luck would have it, Jim Stack, who was heading up their book division, was in the process of putting together his “Cutting-Edge Router Tips & Tricks”. Jim thought the jig would be a good fit along with the scallop shell boxes that I was making with it. And so for one happy day we shot the step photos and I provided the plans for the jig and the box.

I guess Chris was right. :)

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

13 comments so far

View CFrye's profile


9050 posts in 1386 days

#1 posted 12-20-2013 03:15 PM

Beautiful scallops John! It’s hard for me to tell…does the routed groove get deeper as it moves from the center to the edge? Is there a mechanism I’m not seeing to rotate the piece a precise amount between cuts? It looks like pieces were added to the edges of the shallower box top. What is the purpose of that? Enquiring minds want to know! hahaha Thanks for sharing!

-- God bless, Candy

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265 posts in 2237 days

#2 posted 12-20-2013 03:19 PM

Looks handy.

-- What one man can do, another man can also do.

View Bobsboxes's profile


1193 posts in 2210 days

#3 posted 12-20-2013 03:21 PM

I Ike the look of the clam shell box, I have carved a few by hand. This sure looks easier. Cool jig.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

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3844 posts in 1439 days

#4 posted 12-20-2013 03:29 PM

Wow, this is really cool. Your creativity knows no bounds! Great job and thanks for sharing

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

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1241 posts in 1176 days

#5 posted 12-20-2013 04:11 PM

Candy—The tops are made with three wedge-shaped sections so that straight grain radiates out from the center. I mounted the triangular shell stock to the rotary table on the jig, and then made a series of downhill grooves with a 90-degree v-grooving bit. If you look at the bottom-right-hand corner of the jig drawing, you’ll see how the router track pivots up and down.

Nothing was added to the edge of the shells. It just came out that way. :)

The jig was a lot more work than the boxes, but I’ve used it for a number of other projects. I’ll post one of them in the future.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

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1241 posts in 1176 days

#6 posted 12-20-2013 04:20 PM

I think Jim’s book with “the rest of the story” is out of print, but I noticed that some used copies are available on Amazon.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View luv2learn's profile


2530 posts in 1849 days

#7 posted 12-20-2013 05:00 PM

Just when I thought I had made my last jig :)

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

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24320 posts in 2413 days

#8 posted 12-20-2013 05:11 PM

It’s a nice box and nicely done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

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2522 posts in 2572 days

#9 posted 12-20-2013 05:50 PM

Cool looking box and interesting jig, must look into it

-- Dreaming patterns

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Monte Pittman

23165 posts in 1884 days

#10 posted 12-20-2013 06:12 PM

These are really cool. I would like to see them made.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View SPalm's profile


5271 posts in 3428 days

#11 posted 12-20-2013 11:57 PM

Hey John, that is really nice. How did you do your hinge?

I did some similar designs a little while ago. I used my homemade CNC, but it looks like you could do the same kind of thing with your jig. I ended up using a 1” core box bit that gave really big scallops. Anyway thought you might like to see them:

Welcome to LJs,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

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5811 posts in 1839 days

#12 posted 12-21-2013 01:57 AM

Very nice boxes.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View johnhutchinson's profile


1241 posts in 1176 days

#13 posted 12-21-2013 04:36 AM

Steve—I looked at your shell boxes and I’m totally blown away. I’m feeling a little “entry level” right now. :)
I used solid brass, 95-degree-swing jewelry box hinges. They were expensive at $20/pair, but at least I had enough for two boxes. I really like what you did with your wooden hinges.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

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