Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Project Highlight: Orchid Inlay Jewelry Box

Wood species: Cherry, Wenge, Purpleheart, Redheart, Yellowheart, Kiaat
Finish type: Tung oil and paste wax
Completed: September, 2014

I had been thinking about what to do for my mom's birthday earlier this year. I had always gotten her something from the store, gift cards, books, games. But this year was different, I had my wood shop now, maybe I could make her something. It hit me, a jewelry box! Turns out this project would be the most involved project I had yet to do.

The design for the box was inspired by a hand-made box my wife got for Christmas one year long ago. With input from my wife and dad, I chose to use a lot of the same design principles as that one, including finishing methods. The box is constructed as a flat, wide box measuring 9" x 11" x 4". It includes interior dividers, as well as a shelf for a removable tray to add extra storage. Two upright pieces of wood in the front corners provide support for the lid when closed. The outer sides are angled at 15 degrees, and joined with miter joints and splines (the same joinery was used for the tray and the lid).

Beginnings of the removable tray.  The dividers have tenons
that fit into mortises cut in the frame.
The dividers for the tray and the inside of the box are permanently affixed using mortise and tenon joinery. I used a 1/16" router bit to cut the mortises in the sides, and my table saw to mill the tenons on the dividers. The floor of the box and tray are both 1/8" thick pieces of cherry that I embedded using dados on all sides. I also cut dados on either side for the tray shelves which are glued in.

The lid consists of rails and stiles created with cherry, wenge, and yellowheart to form the decorative border. I cut a 1/8" dado on the interior where I fit a mirror for the inside of the box. This left room on the outer part of the lid for the inlay panel I glued in later. The lid is held into the box with small brass rods that fit into holes I drilled into the sides of the box and lid.

Mostly complete inlay panel.  Only two layers left.
To really add my own touches to the box, I chose to add a personalized inlay in the lid of an orchid. Orchids have special meaning to my mom, and I knew she'd love it. The design for the inlay came from a photograph I found online and traced on my laptop. From there, I found different woods that would form the coloration of the flowers and stems (purpleheart and redheart for the flowers, kiaat for the stem), and used a combination of sand shading and wood burning to shade the pieces. I designed the inlay to be slightly larger than it would ultimately be when mounted into the lid. This gave a nice picture frame effect when mounted into the lid.

The box with its removable tray.
I finished the box with two coats of pure tung oil, applied by hand, followed by a coat of paste wax, all done prior to final assembly. The interior storage space is lined with self-adhesive felt.

My mom was absolutely thrilled to receive it! ■

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