When the Material Dictates the Project Design: A Box from a Walnut Scrap

Box from Walnut Scrap

Box from Walnut Scrap

While rummaging through some small pieces of wood at a lumberyard in Raleigh a few weeks ago, I came across a piece of walnut with a neat grain pattern. The piece was about 7/8″ x 8″ x 7″ — not very big. I had no idea what I might make with it, but I figured something would come out of it. I started out resawing it into two pieces and book-matched them together into one piece about 3/8″ x 8″ x 13″. I thought it would make a nice top for a box, but the size was strange, and I could not come up with a good design for it. I set it to the side for a few weeks, and spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do with it.

Finally, I picked it back up and started trying to come up with something — it was too neat of a piece not to build something out of. So, I cut it back apart where I had book-matched it, and decided to use one half for drawer fronts and the other half for the top of a little box. I cut the top piece and mitered it, continuing the pattern down the front into the drawers. The sides are quartersawn white oak, with a slight taper. Here’s what it looks like with the first coat of finish on it:

Box with Pulls at the Bottom

Box with Pulls at the Bottom

The problem with drawers is that you need something to grab onto to pull them open. And, this gets in the way of a neat piece of wood. I just could not bring myself to drill a hole and mount a pull on each drawer. So, here is what I came up with. I embedded a magnet behind each drawer front, and made some little pulls with a magnet glued into the bottom. At the bottom is a row of mortised parking places for the knobs. So, if you aren’t using the box too often, you can leave the pulls down there. Here is the box with the pulls “parked” at the bottom.

It kinda looks like an old fashioned radio with the dials at the bottom. The finished box is about 8″ wide at the bottom, 7″ wide at the top, 7″ deep and 11″ tall. I am using Tried and True Varnish and Oil finish.

Dovetailed Drawer

Dovetailed Drawer

On a side note, I usually use my router table with the Jointech positioner and a dovetail bit to mechanically do the dovetails when making drawers. This was my first real attempt at hand-cutting the dovetails. I won’t say it was easy, but they didn’t turn out terrible.

Here is a look at one of the little drawer pulls which has a magnet inside it:

Magnetic Pull

Magnetic Pull

After applying the finish, I plan to use flocking inside the drawers. The drawers have grooves cut into the sides which engage with  maple rails. After applying shellac to the outside of the drawers, they slide easily, and a bit of wax will be the final touch.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “When the Material Dictates the Project Design: A Box from a Walnut Scrap

  1. Wow! What a great looking box. Nice work

  2. any idea where i can get those magnetic drawer pulls? thanks

    • wilburton

      The magnetic pulls were something I made from a very strong magnet that came from Woodcraft. I glued one magnet into the wooden pull and put another behind the drawer front. I don’t know of any place that sells magnetic pulls.

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