Why a box?
An elderly couple of friends gave me a large pile of highly flamed “fiddleback” maple, hoping I could build fiddles of the wood. This was Big Leaf Maple wood that the woman’s father had salvaged specifically because of the beautiful grain, perhaps fifty years ago, while making wood to heat his home.
Unfortunately, the wood turned out to be riddled with worm damage so that most of it is unusable. I felt bad about it, because she had hoped, all through the years, to have a box or something made of the wood, and now it seemed to be lost.
I had just repaired my bandsaw, though, while in the process of building the five-string double bass, and was busy cutting up billets of violin-wood to see what I really had that would be useable. I salvaged a few pieces of their maple wood that (maybe) could make a violin, and enough thin slices that I thought I would try a box for her.
When most people think of a box, they are thinking of a rectangular enclosure of some sort: but, I’m a violin maker! So…I bent the wood into an oval, and went from there:
There was not enough solid wood to do very much, so the heavier sections are from a different tree; one cut from the yard of my wife’s family home.
I inlaid the fiddleback maple section about 3 mm thick, into the lid which was also flamed maple, but not as spectacular. I trimmed it with purfling left over from the building of the five-string double bass.
The sides were only a little over a millimeter thick and bent around a hot iron made for that purpose. But they would be too fragile, if that was all that was there, and there would also be no secure way to fasten them to the base. So there is a 4 mm raised section glued to the base and the sides wrap around that “plug.” I added a 5 mm thick ring around the top, the same size as the bottom plug, in order to reinforce the upper edge.
Then I inlaid a 7 mm wide by 2 mm thick band of bent willow wood into the lid, positioned so that it fits cleanly inside the upper ring. As it happens, the lid fits perfectly in one direction, but if you turn it 180 degrees, it is very loose. So I stamped my name in the base and the lid: when you open the lid, if both are readable or if both are upside down, then the lid will fit.
I varnished the bentwood box pretty much the same as I do my violins, and delivered it the following Saturday.
Both the husband and wife seemed quite pleased, so I am happy too.
Thanks for looking,