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Treasured chest: Build a jewelry box

Build a box that matches the luxury of its baubles

By Rick Campbell

Dont be deceived by the compact size of this elegant jewelry box: hidden within the gracefully curved drawers is an
abundance of convenient space for keeping precious treasures and family heirlooms organized and secure. Open the
etched-glass doors at the sides and you will find plenty of room to hang long chains and necklaces. Lift the hinged lid on
the top for ready access to favourite trinkets that are worn daily. The underside of the lid even has a bevelled mirror so
its owner can check her look before heading out the door. This project combines the rich look of cherry with contrasting
ebonized maple to achieve a stunning design that is as beautiful as the cherished valuables found inside.
The hinged lid not only reveals the charms stored underneath, but also a mirror for jewelry adjustments.
Instructions
Getting Started
Begin by cutting out blanks for the top, base, back, and drawer compartment sides from maple dimensioned to 1/2" at
the thickness planer. Prepare a cardboard pattern to lay out the shape for the base panel and trace it onto the blank. All
the information you will require to make the template is included in the plan details. Use a bandsaw to cut out the shape,
then sand the edges smooth. Now install a bearing-guided Roman-ogee bit in a table-mounted router and mill a
decorative profile on the bottom edges of the front and sides.

Follow the same process to create a panel for the top; but, when youre done, cut off 2 1/4" from each short side at the
tablesaw using a thin-kerf blade. When the project is assembled, these end pieces will be glued permanently in place on
top of the cabinet and the centre section will be mounted with two brass hinges to form a lid. Using a thin-kerf blade to
make the cuts minimizes the gap between the parts when they are finally installed, creating a crisper look.

Your next assignment is to use a dado blade to prepare 1/2"-wide x 1/4"-deep grooves on the inside face of the back
panel to receive the vertical drawer compartment sides. You will also need to prepare 3/8"-wide x 3/16"-deep dados on
the interior faces of the drawer compartment sides to accommodate the drawer runners. When all the grooves are
made, cut the drawer runners to size and glue them in place. The runners sit flush with the compartment sides front
edges, but stop 1/4" shy of the back edges to leave room for the back panel.
When this work is done, sand all the parts to prepare for the first stage of assembly. Start by gluing the drawer
compartment sides into the back panel slots. Check to see that the sides are square with the back before setting the
assembly aside to dry.

Next, attach the side and back panel assembly to the base using 1"-long flathead screws installed from underneath. For
appearance, countersink the screws so the heads are flush with the underside of the base. Now, glue and clamp the
ends of the top panel to the top of this assembly, using the movable section of the top, which forms the lid, as a spacer
to determine the correct positioning. To install the lid, I used a special type of hinge with built-in stops to support the lid
in the open position (Lee Valley #00D80.12). This feature eliminates the need for chain restraints.

Next, cut four 1 1/4"-wide x 5"-long blocks from 3/8"-thick material to serve as the tops and bottoms of ?the side
compartments, then glue ?in place. Cut a pair of 11/4"-wide ?strips for the front of the side compartments. Make them a
little long to start, then mark them in place and cut to achieve a perfect fit between the top and bottom blocks. After
gluing these pieces, youre ready to make the foot assemblies for your cabinet.

Fancy Feet
Each foot assembly is composed of two segments joined together with mitred corners. A cove profile is routed on the
outside face and the exposed ends are curved to further enhance the appearance. Start by cutting out a blank that
measures roughly 3/4"-thick x 3"-wide x 24"-long and mill the cove detail along the length of both sides with a
table-mounted router and a 1/2"-radius bearing-guided cove bit. Its much easier and safer to complete this step on the
large blank, before the parts are cut to size.

Rip 1"-wide strips from the edge of the blanks and cut the strips into 2"-long segments. You will need eight pieces to
complete the four feet. After cutting a 45 mitre on one end of each segment to join at the corners, use the bandsaw to
form a 3/4"-radius curve on the opposing ends. Sand to remove any marks left behind by the tools. Now, you can pair up
the segments and assemble the feet with glue. Packing tape works well to hold the pieces together while the glue cures.
After removing the tape and giving the feet assemblies a final sanding, glue them to the underside of the bottom panel.
You know you have them positioned correctly when the flat edges of the feet are perfectly aligned with the corners of the
bottom panel.
A cove profile on the feet elevates the jewelry box.

Drawer Construction
The most challenging part of this project is constructing the curved fronts for the drawers. The measurements for the
curved faces are on the plans, but a simple shopmade jig will make your life much easier. The jig serves as a template
that also holds the wood blanks securely in place while you use a table-mounted router and a 2"-long bearing-guided
pattern bit to mill the curved profile on the outside face. The jig consists of a panel with the shape of the drawer fronts
formed on one edge. Theres also a sturdy frame glued on top to support the blanks. A couple of pieces of double-sided
tape are all thats required to mount the blanks in the support frame. Start by constructing the jig from 1/2"-thick Baltic
birch plywood or MDF. (See the photo on page 34 for a reference.) Next, cut enough blanks from 3/4"-thick solid cherry
to make six drawer fronts. While youre at it, prepare a couple of extra blanks to use as test pieces. When youre done,
mount one of the blanks in the jig and use a pencil to trace the curved profile onto the edge of the part. Remove the
blank from the jig and head over to the bandsaw to cut along the outside of the layout line. Removing most of the waste
material with the saw greatly reduces the burden on the router while also minimizing the risk of burn marks on the
drawer fronts. Now, return the blank to the jig and fire up the router to finish shaping the part. Repeat the entire process
for all the remaining blanks, including the spares.

The next step is to mill the beading detail on the lower edges of the curved fronts. I did this using a 1/4"-diameter
beading bit and a fence to guide the jig template. As you pass the parts over the bit, you will need to rotate the jig slightly
so that the point of contact with the router fence always remains directly in line with the centre point of the spinning bit. It
takes a bit of practice, so use those extra blanks you prepared earlier to perfect the set-up and practise your technique.

After all the shaping is done, prepare 5/8"-wide x 1/4"-deep rabbets on the ends of five drawer fronts to accommodate
the sides of the drawer boxes. When you do this step, its a good idea to use a backer board behind the workpieces to
minimize tearout. The false drawer front that conceals the tray at the top requires 3/16"-wide x 1/4"-deep rabbets on the
ends to achieve a snug fit with the drawer compartment sides.

The next task is to cut the sides and backs of the drawer boxes from 3/8"-thick maple. Use a dado blade to make
3/8"-wide by 1/8"-deep grooves in the drawer sides to serve as tracks for the drawer runners. Its very important that
these slots end up being perfectly centred from top to bottom, so sacrifice a few test pieces to dial in the set-up. You will
also need a 3/8"-wide x 1/8"-deep rabbet on the back end of each drawer side piece for joining the drawer back. The
drawer bottoms are captured within 1/8"-wide x 1/8"-deep slots positioned 1/4" in from the bottom edge of the
surrounding drawer pieces. Prepare these slots, then cut the drawer bottoms to size from 1/8"-thick plywood.

After applying glue to the corner joints, youre ready to assemble the drawer boxes with the bottom panels in place.
Secure the joints with a couple of clamps and check for square before setting the drawers aside to dry. After the clamps
are removed, use a stationary edge sander to smooth the top and bottom edges. When you do this step, remove just
enough material to create uniform spacing between the drawers as they sit installed in the cabinet opening. A 1/16" gap
should do the trick.

Now you can cut out the parts for the tray at the top. Rabbet both ends of the side pieces and prepare dados for the
bottom panel, just like you did for the drawer boxes. After the tray is assembled, you can glue it in place between the
compartment walls. Make sure the top edge of the tray is flush with the top of the side and back panels before the glue
sets up.
Constructing the drawer fronts is one of the more challenging tasks in building this box, but worth the effort.

Vertical Columns
The plans show a matching pair of decorative front columns mounted on the fronts of the side compartments. The
columns are made from cherry and they have a fluted design routed on their outside faces. Cut the columns to size from
1/2"-thick stock, then mill a 1/4"-wide x 1/4"-deep rabbet along the inside edge on each to accommodate the corner of
the drawer compartment sides. To prepare the groove pattern on the fronts, I used my table-mounted router and a
1/4"-diameter fluting bit. When youre done with the cuts, the easiest way to sand the grooves is to wrap sandpaper
around a piece of 1/4"-diameter dowel. Position the columns in front of the side compartments temporarily to see how
they look. Glue them later, after the finish has been applied.

Glass Doors
Initially, I designed this project to have solid-wood doors, but I was concerned that a flat panel with no frame would warp
over time. Thats when I came up with the idea for framed panels with glass inserts. To add to the appearance, I
decided to enhance the glass with some etched designs. If you want to do this for your project, you will need
glass-etching cream, stencils, goggles and rubber gloves. All these materials are available from Lee Valley and many
craft stores.

With the glass etched, set each piece aside in a safe place while you make the surrounding frames. Cut out the parts for
the door frames from wood that has been planed to 7/16"-thick on the thickness planer. When you cut the parts to
length, mitre the ends and then cut 1/8"-wide x 1/4"-deep slots on the inside edges to receive the glass. Assemble the
frames around the glass panels, using glue and web clamps to secure the joints. I also applied a spring clamp to each
corner to keep the surfaces flush while the glue dried. After releasing the frames from the clamps, sand the top and
bottom edges of the doors to create clearance in the door openings. I used a pair of brass-plated, no-mortise hinges to
mount my doors on the cabinet.

Glass doors with etched designs both protect and display necklaces and bracelets.

Finishing
Now, its time to remove the doors, lid and front columns to prepare the parts for finishing. To enhance the grain of the
cherry parts, I applied some cherry gel stain, followed by three coats of wipe-on polyurethane. When you apply this
finish, tape off surfaces to be glued later on the backs of the front columns and the sides of the drawer boxes. Bare,
unfinished wood is essential for the glue to work.

I used black aniline dye to colour some of the exposed maple surfaces of the cabinet. If youd like to do the same, you
need to prepare the wood properly. Dont skip any steps or you wont be happy with the results. Start by brushing on
distilled water to raise the grain. Let the surfaces dry completely, then use 400-grit paper to sand off the fibres that have
lifted. Repeat this process a couple of times to be certain the grain will remain flat when the dye finish is brushed on.
After preparing the wood, mix the dye according to the manufacturers directions.

I find that a foam brush works best to apply the finish, but be sure to wear gloves to prevent a mess on your hands.
Stained fingers dont come clean easily or quickly. Dont be concerned if you get some of the finish on the inside walls
of the top tray or side compartments because these areas will be covered by felt later on. Simply do your best to keep
the dye off the sides of the drawer compartments because it may cause the drawer runners to swell, preventing the
drawers from sliding smoothly.

After brushing on the dye, wait 24 hours before applying several coats of wipe-on polyurethane. The additional coats
enhance the richness of the black finish.

Next, line the drawer boxes and cabinet compartments with adhesive-backed felt. You could use powdered flocking that
is dusted onto a glue-covered surface, but I find peel-and-stick felt easier and neater to apply. After lining the side
compartments, install hooks for chains and necklaces. I used a pair of brass-plated key-box hooks (Lee Valley
#00S03.50) for my jewelry box. They are simply fastened in place with a couple of brass screws. This is also an
opportune time to mount the bevelled mirror on the underside of the lid. A couple of strips of double-sided tape is all
thats required.

After all the interior work is done, glue the vertical columns to the front of the cabinet and reattach the doors and lid. You
will also need to drill holes to install the drawer pulls and knobs. The knobs I chose are glued in place with epoxy. Finish
up by mounting latch mechanisms to secure the doors when they are closed. There are many options, but I settled on
tiny rare-earth rod magnets (Lee Valley #99K38.00) recessed into the edge of the compartment frames. A 3/8"-diameter
steel washer (Lee Valley #99K32.61) is recessed into the corresponding location on each side compartment front to
serve as strike plates for the magnets.

As a final touch, why not write a meaningful message to your loved one on the back of one of the drawer boxes to make
this special gift even more memorable?

A jig, a beading bit and a bearing-guided bit will help you make the drawer faces.
Tools and Materials
Part Material Size (T x W x L*) Qty.
For the main cabinet
Top and base soft maple 1/2" x 6 1/2" x 11 1/2" 2
Back soft maple 1/2" x 10" x 12" 1
Drawer compartment sides soft maple 1/2" x 5 1/2" x 12" 2
Drawer runners soft maple 3/8" x 3/8" x 5 1/4" 10
Side compartments tops and bottoms soft maple 3/8" x 1 1/4" x 5" 4
Side compartment fronts soft maple 3/8" x 1 1/4" x 11 1/4" 2
Top tray sides soft maple 3/8" x 2" x 5" 2
Top tray front/back soft maple 3/8" x 2" x 6" 2
Feet segments soft maple 3/4" x 1" x 2" 8
Top tray bottom panel plywood 1/8" x 4 1/2" x 6" 1
False drawer front cherry 3/4" x 2" x 6 7/8" 1
Front columns cherry 1/2" x 2" x 12" 1
For the drawers
Fronts cherry 3/4" x 2" x 6 7/8" 5
Sides soft maple 3/8" x 2" x 5" 10
Backs soft maple 3/8" x 2" x 5 7/8" 5
Bottoms plywood 1/8" x 4 5/8" x 5 7/8" 5
For the doors
Top/bottom rails cherry 7/16" x 1" x 5 1/2" 4
Side stiles cherry 7/16" x 1" x 12" 4
Inserts glass 3/32" x 4" x 10 1/2" 2
Hardware
Lid stop hinges brass-plated 1
(LV 00D80.12) pair
Door flush hinges brass-plated 2
(LV 00H51.12) pair
s
Drawer and door knobs brass 8
(LV 01A01.11)

Adhesive-backed felt red 2


(LV 76K04.05) rolls
Etching cream 3
(LV 27K01.01) oz.
Etching stencils of your choosing
Rod magnets 2
(LV 99K38.00)

Oval mirror 1
(LV 42K04.03)

Washer strike plates 2


(LV 99K32.61)

Key-box hook strips brass 2


(LV 00S03.50)

* Length indicates grain direction


Plan

Illustration by Len Churchill