Inlays, curves and tapers....the story of jewellery box lids

I do like making jewellery boxes that have curved tapered lids. There is another blog post talking more about how the curve is done. Here I am talking more about having a curved lid, but with solid wooden inlays that are visible of the lid top, bottom and side - yes they do go right through the lid.


The first thing to do is cut the wood that will become the lid oversized in all dimensions, because once the inlays have been inserted, it will be cut back to fit the box.


Here I am bending the inlay to get some idea of the curve I am after.


As I have made a number of boxes like this before, I have various MDF templates used in association with a router to cut the lids in half.



Here I am gluing an ash inlay into a walnut lid. As there will be two inlays in this lid, then two individual glue-ups are done.


Notice how I have clamps across the glue joint, but also across the ends of the lid. This double direction pressure is needed to keep everything square.


After about an hour, the clamps can be removed and then I leave it over night to fully cure.




After the glue has cured, the inlay is flushed back to the surface, and the lid sanded.


The process is repeated again, usually just twice for a box lid.


I have made coffee tables and console tables with these inlays, and these may have three or four separate inlays. Exactly the same method as for the boxes.





Four complete lids, two ash and walnut, and two walnut and ash!


The next stage is to cut the lids to fit the boxes, and do the hinge joinery work.


I do leave the lids a little deeper so they protrude past the front of the lid. Once the lid has been curved, I can plane back the overhang to get the final fit.






In this picture you can see the wood on the lid that must be removed to fit the box and follow the curve of the sides.


Using a combination of an angle grinder with wood shaping disc, hand planes and abrasive paper, the lid can be shaped back to the desired profile.


The underside curve of the lid can also be taken from the box side.


See this blog post for more information.



A completed ash lid, with the upper convex curve and lower concave curve, giving an overall tapering effect.


The upper curve is relatively easy to do, as it is convex. The lower concave curve is a bit more tricky to hollow out, but only takes more time.


Having this curved tapered shape removes weight from the lid, but also compensates for any cupping and movement of the lid.



It is always great when oil is applied to the wood, to see how the colour changes.


I normally use is Osmo Polyx oil as a finish.


The first coat goes on and is really absorbed into the grain, and I leave it overnight to fully dry. Then I will cut back with 240 or 320 grit sandpaper, and two more coats are applied, one in the morning and one in the evening.


A wax finish on top give that extra bit of shine.


One complete jewellery box made from American black walnut, with ash inlays in the lid.

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