This piece was commissioned by Gary for his wife, Heather, for a Christmas present. Gary makes beautiful, fine jewelry and so I guess Heather has quite a bit of really nice jewelry. Gary wanted to surprise her with new jewelry box made from some eye poppin' figured wood.
The piece is made from curly maple from Paul Taran with an Imbuia panel in the top. The unusual feature is that a drawer is built into the bottom part of the box so it has three compartments: a top tray, a central main compartment, and the drawer. It's also a fairly large piece measuring 12"L x 10"W x 8"H. The dovetails on the drawer front are fake, but I felt it would look odd if I left them out.
I almost didn't include this page, because the digital images make the drawer front and the lower edge of the box top look really ratty. When I looked at the jpg files I was appalled and wondered: "Did I really do such a crummy job?". I remembered being very careful about the fit of the drawer and couldn't imagine that the finished piece looked this bad. I went back and checked the actual photographs and was relieved to see that they looked pretty good. Normally I think digital images can hide some of the defects, but in this case they created their own.
The Imbuia wood was actually selected by Gary and mailed to me. It has a lovely figure and I like the contrast it makes with the maple. I used a very light aniline dye stain on the maple to just bring out the figure without darkening the wood significantly. I decided to use pegs on the slip jointed frame on the top mainly for the decorative effect.
This picture (below) makes the drawer front look like it was cut out with a rusty ax. Yechh!
The technique for creating a drawer was a little more complicated than I first thought. The front, sides, and back of the box are a continous piece of maple and I wanted the grain to follow on three of the corners. My first thought was to make a regular dovetailed box and just cut the drawer front out from the front. For once I tried this on a prototype, instead of committing myself on an expensive piece of wood, and I found that it left large and unsightly gaps around the drawer. Also for the dovetails on the drawer front, I thought I'd just saw the ones off of the front facing sides of the box. This didn't work either as even a thin coping saw removed too much material.
What I ended up doing was making the piece for the box front 1/4" wider than the sides and back, and making the sides of the box about a 1/8" longer than the final dimension. After I sawed the drawer front from the front piece, the combined height of the three remaining pieces pretty well matched the height of the back and sides. Before trimming the length of the sides to the final dimension, I cut a piece out of the front facing part of the sides where the drawer was going to go with a thin bladed jeweler's saw. These pieces yielded the fake "dovetails" that were fit into the edges of the drawer front. The grain match this way turned out maybe not perfect, but still quite good.
The drawer pull on the front was carved from a scrap of the imbuia. I'd never worked with this wood before. It's certainly beautiful, but it's hard to handplane. I ended up using a scraper for most of the final surfacing. It also has a very odd aroma - it reminded me of my distant memory of what a pig farm smells like. Oh, what a dedicated woodworker will put up with for a nice looking piece of wood. :-)
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