Bird's Eye Maple & Koa Box

Beautifully figured woods joined without using fasteners.

SHOP OWNER: Drew McManus

    I am in the middle of producing a gaggle of small boxes. Here are the first two, a Bird's Eye Maple & Koa box, and a Spalted Maple & Ebony box.
    Since I knew some folks who were planning a trip to Maui, I contacted a woodworker I know via a woodworking message board, to find a source where they could pick up some rough-cut koa. On their return, they had a very nice piece a 4/4 koa and asked if I could use it to make an earring box. I gladly accepted, and got to work.
Bird's Eye Maple & Koa Box

    The body of the box and lid is solid bird's eye maple from Groff & Groff in Quarryville, PA. The darker trim on the box and lid, the feet, the bottom, earring inserts, and the handle are all solid koa. I joined the box with simple miters cut on my router table. I also used the router and a 1" dish cutter bit to cut the "divots" into the earring trays. The edge of the lid has a 15-degree angle cut all the way around, done on my router table and a 15-degree chamfer bit. I sanded the feet to shape on my belt sander, clamped to my workmate. The handle was cut on my bench saw.
Bird's Eye Maple & Koa Box

    Everything is hand finished with natural Watco Danish Oil. Overall, the box will hold 30 pairs of earrings. There are no screws or nails used at all! The dimensions are 8" long by 5" wide 6 " tall.
Spalted Maple & Ebony Box

    I made this box for my wife. I picked up a beautiful piece of spalted maple from Groff & Groff over a year ago and have been waiting for a good project to use it. After the success of the first box, I decided to try resawing the spalted maple and making a continuous grain box with a book matched lid. It's similar to the first box in that the lid featured a 15-degree chamfer around the edges and the box is joined using 45-degree miters, all cut on the router table.
Spalted Maple & Ebony Box

    The big difference in this box, however, is that the bottom is enclosed in a " dado, cut just below the top of the lower ebony trim. I wanted to use as much of the spalted maple as possible and this seemed like a good way to do it. The lid features my first attempt at book matching, while not perfect, it at least works. The ebony trim has a 1/8" round over on the top piece and a 1/8" round over on the inside of the bottom trim.
Spalted Maple & Ebony Box

    Overall, I think the continuous grain pattern turned out to be one of the box's best features. The handle is solid ebony and is 3/16" thick and "disappears" when you view the box from the proper angle. I had to seal the spalted maple with a 1 Lb. cut shellac. and then everything is finished with two coats of Natural Watco Danish oil. The dimensions are 7 " long by 4 " wide by 3 " tall.
    Everything was done here at my shop in Bel Air, Maryland. I have further pictures and details about the construction on my Website at:

. . . Drew McManus



This is the place to share views of your shop, woodworking tips and methods,
mug shots, special tools or machines, finished work--you name it!
    We prefer digital images via e-mail, but prints or transparencies will do. Include your name, address, phone number and a paragraph or two explaining the photo(s). Not every entry will be used, we reserve the right to edit for length and clarity, and we will not return photos.

P.O. Box 493
Springtown, PA 18081