A jewelry box should do more than keep the dust off valuables. It should also suggest strength and security—and express the elegance of its contents. The box shown in the photo at left satisfies these requirements in a number of ways. It is made from an exotic hardwood—
pau ferro—and is joined at the corners by through dovetails, a sturdy joint that adds visual interest. The half-mortise lock protects the contents from prying fingers and accents the design of the piece. The tray inside the box features dividers for sorting smaller items and is assembled with finger joints.
For a box of the proportions shown, use ‘A – to %-inch-thick stock for the the
box and %-inch-thick wood for the trav.
To protect the jewelry from scratches, you can line the inside of the box and tray with a soft material such as felt or flocking (page 129).
Routing the dovetails
To cut the dovetails for the box with a router and the jig shown above, screw the pin – and tail-board templates to backup boards, then secure one of the tail boards (the sides of the box) end up in a bench vise. Clamp the tail template to the workpiece so the underside of the template is butted against the end of the board. Also clamp a stop block against one edge of the workpiece so the tails at the other end and in the other tail board will match. Install a top-piloted dovetail bit in the router and cut the tails by
feeding the tool along the top of the template and moving the ‘ bit in and out of the jig’s slots. Keep the bit pilot pressed against the sides of the slots throughout. Repeat to rout the tails at the other end of the board, and in the other tail board. Then use the completed tails to outline the pins on the front and back of the box. Secure the pin board in the vise, clamp the pin template to the board with the slots aligned over the outline, and secure a stop block in place. Rout the pins with a straight bit (above).
2 Routing the recesses for the tray
The tray inside the box rests in a recess routed into both sides of the box. Before cutting the recesses, dry-assemble the box and determine what should be the top of the box depending on the grain and figure of the wood. Label the pieces to facilitate reassembly, then outline the recesses on the sides and set one of the pieces inside-face up on a work surface. You can make a simple jig to keep the router bit within the outline by cutting a notch out of a piece of plywood and clamping it to the workpiece. Also clamp a stop block along the tails to prevent from cutting into them. Install a straight bit in the router, set the cutting depth to / inch and rout the recess. Repeat for the other side (left), then square the corners with a chisel.
Preparing the box for the bottom
The bottom of the jewelery box fits into a rabbet along the inside of the box. Dry- fit the parts together, then clamp the unit securely, installing the jaws on the sides of the box. Fit a router with a piloted rabbeting bit of a diameter equal to one-half the thickness of the stock. Then mount the router in a table and set the cutting height to the thickness of the bottom panel you will be using. Set the box right-side up on the table and, starting at the middle of one side, feed the stock into the bit against the direction of bit rotation. Keeping the pilot bearing butted against the workpiece, feed the box clockwise (right). Continue pivoting the box on the table until you return to your starting point. Use veneered plywood for the bottom and cut the panel to fit the opening. The plywood will not expand or contract with changes in humidity, allowing you to glue and nail it in place.
Cutting the lock mortise
Lay the front of the box inside-face up and position the lock face-down midway between the pins and flush with the top edge of the board. Trace the outline of the hardware (inset), then extend the lines onto the top edge of the board. Now clamp the front of the box to your work surface and use a chisel to cut a shallow mortise for the faceplate lip in the top edge of the board. Score the mortise outline on the inside face of the board then, holding the chisel horizontally and bevel up, shave away the waste in thin layers (above). The central portion of the mortise, which will hold the lock housing, must be deeper than the portion housing the faceplate. Periodically test-fit the lock
in the cavity and use the chisel to deepen or widen the mortise as necessary. Once the faceplate is flush with the inside face of the board, set the lock in the mortise and mark the location of the keyhole. (The mortise for the lock can also be cut out with a router, but work carefully, especially if you are doing the job freehand. Do not try to rout right to the edge of the mortise outline; instead, finish the cut with a chisel.) Now drill a hole for the key through the board and use a small, round file to refine the opening to the shape of the key, then install the escutcheon over the keyhole and screw the lock to the front of the box. You can now glue up the box.
Shaping the molding stock
Because the pieces for the base molding are relatively narrow, shape both edges of a wide board, then rip the molding from the board. Install a molding bit in a router and mount the tool in a table. To prevent kickback, use three featherboards, clamping one to the table in line with the bit and two to the fence, one on each side of the cutter. (The featherboard on the outfeed side of the fence has been removed for clarity.) Shape both edges of the board, feeding it along the fence (right).
Mitering and installing the molding
You can saw the molding pieces to length with a miter box or on a power miter saw adjusted for a 45° cut. Lay the stock on edge against the fence, butt a board against the workpiece, and clamp it in place as a hold-down. To ensure the molding fits the box perfectly, make the first cuts a little long, test-fit the molding under the box, and trim the pieces to fit (left). Spread glue on the mitered ends of the molding and secure the pieces together with a web clamp, using the box as a form. Once the glue has cured, apply adhesive in the rabbets and set the box on the molding.
Installing the lid and the lock strike plate
Before fastening the hinges to the box, mount the strike plate to the underside of the lid. Position the plate on the lock and turn the key to hold the plate in place. Apply double-sided tape to the strike plate and position the lid on the box. Turn the key again to release the strike plate and remove the lid; the plate will be in position on the lid. Outline the strike plate on the surface, remove the tape, and cut a mortise within the outline to the depth of the plate. Then drill pilot holes and screw the plate in place (right). To complete the lid installation, screw the hinges to the box.
Making the tray
Cut the sides of the tray to fit in the recess in the box and join the pieces with box joints (page 125). Before assembling the tray, cut dadoes for the dividers in the inside faces of the front and back. Glue up the tray, cut and insert the dividers (left), and set the tray in the box. Sand the tray as necessary to fine-tune its fit. As a final touch, you can attach a chain to the lid and box to prevent the lid from opening too far and straining the hinges.
irst produced in the 1790s, Shaker boxes were made in graduated sizes to hold household goods; when empty they could be nested inside one another. The smallest size, 0(Xis a 1 inch-by – 2-inch ellipse; the largest box, number 20, made from two bands more than 9 feet long, is 26 inches by 38lA inches.
The oval boxes remain popular today, and can be easily made from commercial kits, which sell the bands already cut to the proper thickness and size and the templates needed to trace the distinctive “swallowtail” fingers. You may choose to cut the bands yourself from a hardwood such as cherry or maple.
Cutting the fingers
To make a Shaker box from a commercial kit, first prepare the stock for the two bands—one for the box and one for the top. The bands are typically resawn from hardwood stock to a thickness of Ae inch. For best results, use straight-grained, quartersawn stock that has been air dried to a moisture content of 15 to 20 percent. Use the proper-sized finger template to outline the fingers on the box band (right) then mark the tack holes and drill them with a А-inch bit. Repeat for the top band.
2 Beveling the fingers
Clamp the bands to a backup board and bevel the fingers with a utility knife. Holding the knife firmly with both hands, cut an angle of 10° around the fingers (right). Then taper the outside face of the opposite end of each band using a belt sander, starting with the taper about YA inches in from the end. This will ensure a smooth overlap and uniform thickness once the bands are bent.
Marking the joint
Soak the box and lid bands in boiling water until they are soft—typically about 20 minutes. Remove the box band from the water and wrap it around the proper sized box core so the beveled fingers lap over the tapered end. Make a reference mark across the edges of the band where the ends overlap (left). Keep the beveled fingers pressed tightly against the core to prevent them from splitting.
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Working quickly, slip the band off the core, rebend it so that the pencil marks line up and tack-nail it through the holes you drilled in step 1 using the appropriate copper tacks. To clinch the tacks inside the band, use a length of iron pipe clamped to your bench as an anvil (left). Once the box bands are tack-nailed, place two shape holders inside the band—one at each edge—to maintain the oval form as it dries.