Curly Maple Jewelry Box

This box began with some leftover pieces of figured hard maple that were just too pretty too relegate to the scrap heap. I wanted to demonstrate handcut dovetails at a talk I was giving, but I wasn't confident enough to do all four corners ala Frank Klausz. So I did three corners at home and left one set of pins for the demonstration. The demo went fine, but for some reason I didn't complete the box right away and it sat kind of forlornly on my router table (which since I rarely use it is the catchall space for uncompleted projects).


Finally, I'd just completed a bunch of quick and dirty wholesale pieces using noisy, screaming powertools and I needed to get back to my roots. The top of the box is of frame and panel construction. The panel is from a neat piece of spalted maple I picked up. I deliberately left the black knothole in the top, because it added to the interest (and doesn't go all the way through). Also the panel has some wild crotch figure, which is the only time I've seen this type of figure in maple. The frame was made using slip joints and has some nice birdseye figure.

The maple was a joy to work with using finely set smoothing planes. Maple also has a lovely sweet smell that I like to inhale deeply. The top was made mainly with power tools. The slip joints were made on the table saw and cleaned up a little with a shoulder plane. The raised field on the panel was made with a router. I gave the frame a slight bevel with handplanes to give it a lighter, more delicate look consistent with the overall dimensions of the box.

I've been experimenting with aniline dye stains on figured maple. I used a dilute "honey amber" stain on this piece which brought out the figure in the maple nicely. The final top finish is French polished shellac. I still have mixed feelings about staining maple. I love the way it brings out the figure, but I'm not always too happy with altering the creamy white color of the natural maple.






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