The Jewellery Box

If you'd like to know more about the viewer designed jewellery box I made. This blog post expands on some of the topics that didn't make the final cut.

Before we begin...

Let me just confirm that the storyline behind this video was an act. I was in fact excited to make this project and the viewer was excited to receive it (on behalf of his wife at least)

That being said, the risks in making the project itself were very real. You have no idea how fragile this thing was!

Where did the competition originate?

Sometime around the start of 2021, the Fan Club hosted a design competition in which the brief was to design a jewellery box that could be built in a day or two. Everyone would then vote on what they're favourite design was and have the pleasure of watching me attempt to make it.

I was not allowed a say in this. In fact, I wasn't even allowed to see the submissions themselves. The first time I saw this design was when I was handed the plans. Although it took me a full 5 months before I was even able to begin considering making it.

Overall, the build took around 7 days. This was largely down to procrastination as well as figuring out how to progress with the project, making various jigs, and working on other projects simultaneously. Now I know how to make the thing, I could probably do it in half that time.

The Design

Overall, I am very fond of this design. Considering this was one of the viewers first proper attempts at designing something, I believe he did a cracking job. It's certainly got a strong theme running throughout the piece as opposed to being a ‘Mr Potato Head' design (as I like to call it) where lots of contrasting elements are blended into one. Instead, he kept it minimal while still challenging me at the same time.

To expand on the concept of theme, what I mean by this is he chose 3 primary materials / colours to make this from. Oak / OSB  as the primary colour, Rosewood as the secondary, and Grey lining as the tertiary colour. Adding a forth colour to this would simply look messy. Of course you could argue that glass is a 4th material, which it is. But in reality, all it allows you to do is see the dark grey within the drawer.


Similarly, balancing these so the primary is the most prominent, the secondary provides contrast, and the tertiary for punctuation is a difficult thing to do.

Of course this is my own design preference and shouldn't be taken too seriously. But in my experience, it works very well. In fact, its a similar process I used to design the Cabinet Project. Ash is the primary, Walnut is the secondary, Ebony is the tertiary.

Did I change anything?

Yes. This project was a fine balance between demonstrating the hard way to do things, while also attempting to keep my sanity in check. There were a few things that were so unviable, that it simply would have been boring and frustrating to progress with. Although I was careful to ensure that every adaptation I made did not affect the overall theme of the box. 

Here is a list of the things I changed.

The Material

This box was originally designed to be made from Oak and Bog Oak. However with COVID restrictions making sawmill access difficult, and the fact I don't trust online sellers for precious material such as Bog Oak. Instead, I used my existing stocks of Rosewood to make the box.

The Groove for the Glass

One of the things that took a lot of figuring out was the frame surrounding the glass. Not only was it fragile, but I didn't want to put the glass in until the very end of the build out of fear of smashing it. Therefore I needed to figure out a way of adapting the plans to allow me to do so.

Normally, glass panels would be inserted retrospectively with the use of beading on the back side of the frame. However this was not possible due to the difficulty with accessing the inside of the box after assembly.

As stated in the video, the way I got around this was by leaving the back of the frame dry. Therefore giving me an opportunity to slide the glass in at a later time. The downside to this was that I needed to run a through groove on the back of the frame that would be seen on the back of the box (pictured). The remaining two corners at the front of the box however, had a stopped groove.

This defect is very small and I chose not to patch it at the end of the build to make it easier to replace the glass later. Titebond 2 is reversible with steam. So in theory, the back of the frame could be removed and replaced if required.

The Drawer

Drawer construction is one of those things that you learn the hard way. You design something that looks easy on paper, to then realise what an abomination it is you've created. The main difficultly with this design is that the base of the box didn't allow for through grooves to be cut in the front and sides. Instead, they needed to be stopped grooves.

Additionally, the back of the drawer did not allow the base to slide in after assembly, and did not allow for air flow either. This is an important consideration because the box is so light. If there is any suction or compression of air behind the drawer, it's going to drag or push the box as the drawer is operated. Which isn't ideal.

Allowing the air to flow over the back of the drawer as it's operated greatly reduces the risk of this happening.

The Drawer Runners

The original plans I used did not specify a method of fixing the drawer runners. This isn't a problem as there are many ways to do this. However the main consideration that needed to be made was an allowance for seasonal movement.

This is because the grain direction on this box means that over time it will expand and contract from to back. The issue with these drawer runners however, is that they could potentially restrict that by having the grain run perpendicular with the grain in the carcass.

This is somewhat difficult to explain in words, however a similar consideration needed to be made when making the drawer runners for the cabinet project. So if you're interested in learning how to allow for this, consider watching that video. To get around this, I screwed the drawer runners in place using expanded slots. Which allowed the runner to stay tight against the insides of the box while still allowing for movement.

The Back Panel

On a similar note, the back panel also needed to be adapted to allow for movement in height. Otherwise there was a risk it could cause the upper frame to buckle or split as the back panel changed dimensions.

A common fix for this kind of thing is to simply use a manmade board as the back panel. I chose veneered plywood for it's strength and ease of machining. I also opted to hold this in place using loose tongues (pictured) as opposed to dominos. Partly to avoid breaking the material by plunging the domino into it, but also because the material was likely too thin in the first place.

These loose tongues were fixed into the bottom and the sizes of the box but not the top. The reason for this is that a loose tongue on the top of the back panel would have made the back of the frame impossible to assemble, as you would need to slide frame both horizontally into the glass, and vertically into the tongue. Instead, it was a simple glued butt joint.

Overall Thoughts.

As always, there are things you know you could have done better if you were to make it again. But overall, I enjoyed making this thing despite the challenges it entailed. I want to thank everyone in the Fan Club for organising and partaking in such a brilliant event, and for everyone else for watching the video and of course your continued support. Who knows, we might do this again at some point?

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The Jewellery Box

I'll start this blog post by confirming that this video was an act. I WAS excited to make the project and the viewer most certainly WAS excited to receive it. 

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