Walnut Recipe Box

Now that Christmas is over, I can share this project with you! My friend Micah asked me to make a "dark" recipe box for his new and beautiful bride Haley for his Christmas gift to her! I has some crotch walnut around and thought this would be the perfect wood, but knew it would be challenging to work with the wood because of how tough and random the grain pattern was.

First, I re sawed the crotch walnut for the front and back panels on my table saw, my bandsaw is not big enough or accurate enough for this task, and it didn't go easily, but I got it done with minimal cut cleanup. This is the rough result:

I didn't have enough of the crotch walnut to make all four sides, so I used some air-dried black walnut I found at an estate sale recently for the ends. I then cut a 3/16 channel across the bottom for the floating bottom panel.

Another view of the channel, still rough:

I then mitered the edges of each panel on a 45 degree angle (on my table saw), being very careful to keep them clean and sharp:

Micah, Haley, and myself spent a month last year working together in Kenya and Rwanda, so I thought it would be nice to include a touch of Africa in the box, so I added this lip of Gabon Ebony to the underside of the lid, mitered in the corners and glued up (only dry fit in this photo). This is the final lid (underside) but I went through 4 lids before this one because they were so thin, I kept breaking them as the first attempts were out of the remaining crotch walnut and the brittle grain did not cooperate:

I then built this jig for the creation of the splines I wanted to add to the corners, yes that's blood, I had a frustrating evening, but finally got it to line up perfectly:

I cut spline channels in the corners, two on each, and clued in splines of waxed Gabon Ebony into each.

I used a router to trim the splines, but in retrospect I would have preferred a hand tool such as a chisel or flush cut saw, as the router damages one of the splines and it had to be repaired with CA glue and ebony sawdust. But this is the unsanded box:

I rubbed it down in Boiled Linseed Oil to bring out these beautiful colors and patterns after sanding up to 1200. I think the front panel looks like clouds and rays of sunshine!:

I predrilled nail holes with a 3/32 drill bit (very hard to find) and added these brass hinges

And here's the final product! Difficult and a challenge to make, but fun for me to test my skills especially with two woods that were less than easy to work with, both were brittle!