Gift box for my Aries sister


A quick writeup on my gift box. Material details:

The box is made from Wenge, with a yellowheart inlay of the ram. The yellowheart was beautiful when sanded, it really shimmers in the light.

The box is lined with black oiled leather, which is engraved with 50 stars in honor of her 50th birthday.

The lid has an inset bronze colored mirror (Inventables acrylic bronze mirror), and it appears hazy in these pictures because I have left the protective plastic on it.

The entire box is friction fit, but the inlay was glued in to prevent it ever coming loose due to differences in the way the two woods react to temperature or humidity changes.

For the base, I cut an insert of 1/8" MDF to add some heft before putting the leather in. The MDF is wood glued to the wenge box, the leather is then attached to the MDF with contact cement.

For hinges, I was going to use some cheap small rubbed bronze hinges that I sourced from amazon, but I found that there was far too much slop in the pins, the top could wiggle a millimeter or two, and that was not going to fly. After a minute of panic – I’d already engraved slots for the hinges and assembled the box – I hit on an idea, and used a photo to trace a vector outline for the hinge and cut leather pieces to fit. The leather hinges look great, and they are my new go-to hinge construction. [Look for another post with a different box for my other sister soon, I use the same trick]

I debated making a latch, but in the end, the top is heavy enough with the acrylic mirror that I deemed it unnecessary.

The entire box is sanded to about 800 grit and finished with Danish oil. The leather is already oiled, so I didn’t touch that.


That turned out exceptionally well! Your sister should be very happy with it!


Yep, it’s lovely! (I’ve got an Aries sister too - I’d make her a box but she likely wouldn’t have the room for it with all the other boxes.) :smile:

Gift box for my Pisces sister

Really Nice! Love the contrast!


Really dig the leather hinges! Amazing how just a bit of leather adds so much to a piece.


This is beautiful, so much skill, care and effort in both the design and build.


Wonderful box, the texture is amazing! And I am certainly going to remember that leather hinge trick.


That came out great and the bronze inside looks great. I was thinking of getting Wenge and now I think I’m sold. The rubber hinges are a great idea too. Think I’m going to have to make some out of leather.


The wenge came from Green Valley. I’ve had good luck with them, and it does make a statement.

Price breakdown:


This is really attractive. I didn’t anticipate how great the yellowheart would look.


In person, the light catches the yellowheart because of its figuring… you get an almost metallic sheen. It’s really pretty in sunlight. Hard to capture here.


This is the kind of project I dreamed of when I purchased a GF. Fantastic work!


Great job. I am sure she will love it.


Especially love the yellow heart! Beautiful work … And like the 50 stars!


Loving the hinge idea! Beautiful box!!


This is just lovely! Fabulous details. I must say I am particularly impressed by the friction fit and in Wenge no less! I’ve only used wenge once in the GF so far but I found it hard to dial in a consistent kerf width to compensate for, in that the wood is so variable in density. Moreover that stuff splits so easily that the fit must be precise indeed! !! I bow to your superior power!



I have to admit though, it’s not magic, it’s more persistence — I did 2 or 3 test fits in scrap pieces to get it right. You’re right, Wenge is a bit brittle, but not much worse than most of the other hardwoods I’ve tried.

Like all hardwoods, when friction fitting finger joints the grain direction is a very big deal. Fingers that go with the grain are a piece of cake. Across it? They want to crack so easily. I just very carefully tap the joints together with a mallet, and try to always push the fingers that are strong into the fingers that are weak; this puts less strain on the weak piece.

I should write up a separate post on this concept, pictures would help clarify what I mean here. We’ll see if I get to it!