Wooden Boxes
Skill-Building Techniques for Seven Unique Projects
by Dennis Zongker

215 x 275mm

Published by The Taunton Press, Connecticut, USA.


ISBN 978-1-60085-522-1

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Serpentine Coin Box

Playing Card Box

Playing Card Box

Artist Sketch Box

Music Box

Rose Box

Rose Box

Cameo Jewelry Box

Traditional Jewelry Box

Traditional Jewelry Box


As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 174

There would be few people who work with wood who have not, at some time, been interested in making boxes.

Aesthetic considerations aside, and even ignoring their usefulness, there are many practical reasons for this. Boxes are generally small enough to require little material and only a modestly sized workshop. They allow inclusion of 'special' wood and, above all, encourage exercise of skills to achieve a finely crafted result.

There have, however, been so many books written on the subject that any new text must offer something quite different.

This book does just that. It contains instructions for seven projects, each a unique box. Together, they require the use of an unusually wide range of skills, including joinery, carving, marquetry, radius inlays and even segmented turning.

Zongker’s first creation is the Serpentine Coin Box which has a serpentine bow front and sits on a plinth supported by small bun feet.

The author begins with cutting instructions, first for the hardwood parts, then the veneers for the box top and bottom, followed by the mitres and rabbets...

Already a pattern emerges. The author explains each step so as to focus not only on the requirements of the specific project, but also more generally, on the technique as it might be applied elsewhere.

These are some of the headings of the sections that follow: Rout the corner dovetails; Make the dovetail splines; Glue the box together; Veneer the box top; Make a serpentine caul; Turn the bun feet; Install a full-mortise lockset.

The treatment given to each of the projects is similar, although the boxes are different.

The Playing Card Box is conventionally rectangular; it has decorative banding around the top edges and sides as well as marquetry images of playing cards on the lid. (A six page description of the ‘window method’ of marquetry is included).

The Artist Sketch Box, also rectangular, is covered with decorative veneers.

The Music Box has projecting mouldings on the lid and at the bottom of the sides; it sits on turned feet and is square at the rear corners.The front corners are mitred off and it has a marquetry image with a musical theme on top.

The front and back of the Rose Box are concave; the ends form serpentine curves. The lid is handsomely curved from its centre to the edges and is decorated with rose carvings.

The last two projects are jewellery boxes. The lid of the Cameo Box is decorated with a marquetry cameo and ribbon banding. The top of the lid is flat, but every other outside surface of the box is comprised of complex curves.

The final project is a Traditional Jewellery Box. Its sculptural design incorporates tapered corner pillars, a shallow divided tray beneath an ornate lid and below that, three drawers hidden behind a curved and marquetry-decorated door.

While the book will doubtless appeal to those who already have the necessary skills to undertake work of this standard, the author clearly hopes it will also guide many others to develop their woodworking skills.

Photos: Colour

Units of Measurement: Imperial



Serpentine Coin Box
- Cut the hardwood parts
- Cut and veneer the box top and bottom
- Cut the miters and rabbets
- Cut the bottom groove and rabbet
- Lay out the serpentine front
- Cut the serpentine front
- Rout the corner dovetails
- Make the dovetail splines
- Glue the box together
- Veneer the box top
- Make a serpentine caul
- Cut the box veneer
- Cut the box in half
- Cut rabbets for the ebony banding
- Cut the ebony banding
- Cut the base parts
- Shape and assemble the base
- Turn the bun feet Install a full-mortise lockset
- Install the hinges
- Make the coin trays
- Apply the finish
- Install the tray liners

Playing Card Box
- Make the banding
- Window method of marquetry
- Make the box bottom
- Cut the bottom groove
- Rout the box miters
- Cut the box in half
- Veneer the edges
- Rout rabbets for the banding
- Install the hinges
- Make the box feet
- Turn the knob
- Cut the interior dividers

Artist Sketch Box
- Cut the hardwood and plywood box parts
- Cut the pencil-tray parts
- Glue the box together
- Make the decorative banding
- Veneer the decorative side panels
- Glue on the veneered end panels
- Cut the top veneer panel
- Make the Greek key banding
- Cut the rabbet and the corner banding
- Cut the box in half
- Make the interior panels
- Make the inside cleat and support blocks
- Install the hinges
- Attach the catches and handle
- Finish the box

Music Box
- Veneer the hardwood parts
- Lay out and cut the box parts
- Glue the box together
- Veneer the top edges
- Construct the inner box
- Install the radius trim block
- Fabricate the decorative trim with inlay
- Install the trim
- Make the segmented feet blank
- Veneer the box top
- Attach trim to the box top
- Rout the box top
- Make the lyre harp
- Install the hinges
- Finish the music box

Rose Box
- Prep the parts for glue-up
- Cut and glue the ebony accent pieces
- Cut the miter joints
- Shape the front, back, and ends
- Cut the box top and bottom
- Assemble the box
- Prepare the center medallion
- Shape the top
- Stab-cut the roses onto the top and front
- Rout the top for ebony trim
- Install the hinges
- Finishing touches

Cameo Jewelry Box
- Cut the hardwood box parts
- Rout for the splines and bottom
- Cut the bottom profiles
- Veneer the inside surfaces
- Veneer the outside surfaces
- Glue the box together
- Prepare the outside corners
- Veneer the top edges
- Make the box-top
- Veneer the box top
- Rout the cameo marquetry recess
- Glue the cameo marquetry to the box top
- Make the elliptical inlay
- Veneer the box top edges
- Create a finger pull
- Make the inside dividers

Traditional Jewelry Box
- Make the bottom platform
- Veneer the lower box parts
- Fabricate the back and back base
- Cut the mitered base trim
- Make the two box ends
- Make the drawer slides
- Make the fronts, corners, and return corners
- Make the upper tray sides
- Veneer the edges
- Make the tray bottoms
- Turn the maple columns
- Start assembling the box
- Mill the maple accent trim
- Make the radius doors
- Select and cut veneers
- Nail and rivet the veneer packets
- Cut the veneer packet
- Glue the marquetry to the door
- Make and attach the door pulls
- Build the drawers
- Make the box top
- Install the door hinges
- Install the door catches install the box top hinges
- Finishing and flocking
- Mount the chain carousels

Metric Equivalents