The Mahogany Jewelry Box
A gentleman approached me about how his wedding anniversary was coming up and that he wanted to get his wife something special and unique. He was looking for a modestly sized jewelry box to, well, hold some of her jewelry. For simple yet elegant, mahogany was the perfect wood for this project.
I would have loved to go with my go-to of walnut but his wife was allergic to walnut. With that being the only limitation placed on my design, I went with a piece of African Mahogany. For the top and miter splines, I paired it with zebrawood. The way the grain came out on the splines on the corners turned out much better than I had originally anticipated. These splines greatly increase the strength of the joints that hold the box together as well as being aesthetically pleasing. The mahogany itself came from a single piece about two inches thick and 36 inches long. That one piece was more than enough to do not only the outside but the inside lining and sliding tray as well.
The main body of the piece utilizes standard miter joints with added splines. I dialed in each miter joint to a perfect 45-degree angle with a special jig called a shooting board and a razor-sharp low angle hand plane. This process not only ensures a great fitting joint but also allows me to make sure each opposite pice is the exact same length. If opposite faces are slightly different lengths it will compromise the strength of the joint and it would be out of square. These joints were then reinforced using 1/4″ splines of zebrawood using a spline jig at the table saw and a dado blade set.
The inner sliding tray had pieces only 3/16″ thick but was joined using box-joints, also known as finger joints. As a result, this made for a very strong yet light tray with the box not requiring glue. I glued the tray together anyways in a belt and suspenders type fashion.
It would have made no sense to get cheap hardware for such an elegant box. I opted for high-quality Brusso© solid brass precision made hinges. Not only do they have a stainless steel hinge pin that is made to last, when they say precision they mean it. I pulled out my micrometer and the hinges are within a few thousandths of an inch of what size they say they are. Given the attention to detail in the hinges themselves, I took my time hand carving out the hinge mortises. Using a razor-sharp chisel and my micrometer, I got the mortises almost as perfectly sized as the hinges themselves. It is hard to beat the smoothness and quality of these hinges. They may be expensive but they are worth every penny.
Altogether the box has over half a dozen coats of finish on it. To make the surface really smooth, I applied multiple coats of grain filler on top of three coats of amber shellac before even assembling the box. This ensures good and even application of color. Finally, after I assembled the box, it was sprayed with three coats of Arm-R-Seal Clear Satin which was buffed with #0000 steel wool between coats for an exceptional finish.
The interior of the box was flocked, which is basically a spray on felt material. Unlike actual felt, this allows for a seamless lining. Consequently, the catch is that it takes about a week for it to cure.
Amber De-Waxed Shellac Flakes: http://amzn.to/2ypquof
General Finishes High-Performance Top Coat: https://amzn.to/2xgsNrJ
Brusso© Solid Brass Hinges: https://amzn.to/2peTw3h
Adjustable Brass Ball Catch: http://amzn.to/2xZ9h3y
Flocking Applicator: http://amzn.to/2gbQZmx
Flocking Material: http://amzn.to/2xhencG
Special Flocking Glue: http://amzn.to/2ypMvDy
Freud Safety Dado Blade Set: https://amzn.to/2NkJJXO
Incra Box Joint Jig: https://amzn.to/2QwvuNP