Larry Ciesla Woodworking

Treasure Box

I built this treasure box as a wedding present for my son.  The box is bubinga and the top is fiddleback anegre veneer.  This little box turned out to be one of the most challenging projects I've done thus far.  I wish I had done a better job documenting the construction process, but the pictures I do have I share below.  This project started out with a full size drawing on 1/4" MDF.  The project starts, so to speak, at the top.  After I had what I considered to be a pleasing curve for the top, I made the form on which the top would be pressed.  The form is made like an airplane wing with many ribs on which 4 sheets of 1/8 Italian Bending Poplar is laminated.  The picture below shows the form.

The completed form for the top.  Four sheets of 1/8 inch Italian bending poplar were pressed and laminated on the ribs then trimmed.  The top was covered with packing tape to keep the pressed top from sticking.  Note the center line faintly visible.  With curved work it is critical to keep a constant reference of the center line. (Top of page)

Here I'm using a roller to apply glue to one of 4 sheets of 1/8 inch Italian bending poplar that will form the curved plywood top.  The glue I use is specially formulated for veneer work and available by mail order.  It is called Urea Formeldhyde and is a two part glue consisting of a resin and hardener.   (Top of page)

All four sheets have had glue applied and the plywood sandwich is taped with blue tape to minimize movement in the press. (Top of page)

The form and plywood sandwich is placed into the vacuum press.  Here I'm sealing the vacuum bag. (Top of page)

As the vacuum starts to draw down I keep an eye to be sure everything remains aligned. (Top of page)
The vacuum is fully formed.  The top will remain in the press for about 8 hours to allow time for the glue to fully cure. (Top of page)
The completed top with its ebony handle attached.  After the plywood top came out of the press in the previous step, two more pressings were needed.  One to veneer the fiddleback anegre to the top and another to the bottom.  Note that all the edges are banded with anegre as well.  The figure of the anegre is not apparent in the photo, but it really pops after a coating of tung oil. (Top of page)
I used very simple rabbit construction to build the box.  Note the brass pins inserted to add both strength and for their visual appeal.  I should also say that the box is constructed based on the precise geometry of the top. The top fits into rabbits cuts into the curved sides. (Top of page)
After 5 coats of hand rubbed tung oil the treasure box is ready for the wedding. (Top of page)
I made an insert out of polycarbonate with a slot to allow wedding cards to be inserted.  Technically this was the purpose of the box.  My daughter-in-law now uses the box to store wedding mementos. (Top of page)