I was buying some lumber at the Hardwood Store of North Carolina several months ago and walked by where they sell cut-off ends of lumber they use in fabricating items for customers. A piece of 6/4 sapele with a really interesting grain pattern caught my eye. Sapele is an interesting wood. After it has been sanded and finish applied, the grain will "pop" and under certain lighting almost glow. So I bought the cut-off and added it to my lumber stack.
Just before the Holidays, a customer who has bought frames from me in the past asked if I would consider making a keepsake box for her. That piece of sapele immediately came to mind. I suggested making a box with sapele and maple, we agreed general dimensions and I provided quotes for a box with and without a lid and how much hinging the lid cost. Good brass hinges for boxes are very expensive, so the customer decided for a non-hinged box.
I had two Holiday Markets and another commissioned project ahead of this one so it took a while to actually start on the boxes. It occurred to me that there was going to be a lot of equipment setup for the various steps and it would make sense to make two boxes at once. I decided to make two variations, one predominately dark sapele with light maple splines and inlay and the second with a maple base and edge of the lid for a more striking appearance. I had not made this type of lid before, so lots of dry assembly and fine tuning with a shoulder and hand plane was required to get the central raised portion of the lid to fit into the rabbits cut in the sides of the edge pieces and to get the ridges on the bottom of the edges to fit snugly inside the box.
I hope you like the finished product!
I've got a couple of commissions to do, but after they are finished I'm going to make another of these but will use the dark base and lid along with curly maple for the body of the box and inlay. While I am at it I'll probably re-make whichever box my customer takes home. ;-)
John Schwartz - watercolorist and woodworker.