Three Little Pencil Boxes All in a Row

Completed the fabrication of the three pencil boxes today.  I really like making these.  The kolrosing that I add to the lids puts my stamp on them and I have a lot of fun doing it.  I do it with almost no measuring.  Sort of just start making lines and see what develops.  When the finish goes on the kolrosing will jump out.  Almost magical when I apply the first coat of finish.


This one is from the last round of pencil boxes so you can see the difference the finish brings out in the kolrosing.


The basic design comes from Paul Sellers’ Masterclasses with a variant on the bottom panel.  Since I’m trying to utilize the left over bits from the HB Tansu builds my bottom panels are from birch ply and flush to the sides.  Paul’s design calls for a solid wood bottom with an overhang and a rounded edge detail like below.  His design is more elegant but I can live with my compromise.


Tomorrow I’ll do a last round of cleanup on these.  I need actual daylight in order to find the surface flaws.  My shop currently only has fluorescent lighting and they are horrible for  catching defects.  I need raking light for that.  I really need to invest in a single source lamp that can be adjusted and aimed for this type of finish work.  Then I’ll apply a few coats of clear shellac.  Sometime this week I’ll buff the shellac out with 0000 steel wool and apply a couple coats of paste wax.

Tomorrow will also see the conclusion of HB Tansu #2.  I’m excited to have this one done and get it moved into the house.  All that is left is one last round of buffing and install the “hardware”.

Greg Merritt

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13 Responses to Three Little Pencil Boxes All in a Row

  1. davidos says:

    love making these also .i think if you left an overhang with the birch ply rounded over it would look equally well .i have seen it done on kitchen cabinets and children’s furniture and the layers once finished look attractive. best of luck David

  2. davidos says:

    Greg. could you post about the lighting system when you get around to it i have a fluorescent system and understand your thoughts but have never heard of raking light .sounds interesting ,kind regards David

    • gman3555 says:

      It’s really just a bright light source. You shine it across the work at a low angle to highlight any surface imperfections. The fluorescent lights won’t give you that. Its the shadows that you want. Brian’s comment is what I’ll probably be doing.

  3. Brianj says:

    Im working on a few of these in different shapes for gifts this year. Using some sapele for the bottoms i found at a lumber supplier scrap bin with oak and pine. I have one of those cheap desk lamps on swing arms i picked up at a second hand store for six bucks, just missing the base. Drilled a half inch hole in bench for the stem that would have gone in the base and ta-da!! Serves me for task light and suedo raking light.

  4. joemcglynn says:

    Greg, those boxes look to be the perfect size to keep fret saw blades in — for whey you build your Chevalet, ya know… 🙂

    • gman3555 says:

      Stop it! I’m not going to follow you down that rabbit hole. I’m perfectly content to watch you from a distance. If I build one of those then I would have to learn how to do marquetry. The next thing you know I would be hoarding turtle shells, mother of pearl and every scrap of exotic wood I could get my hands on. 😉

  5. joemcglynn says:

    Sigh. Turtles make such great pets too.

  6. Very nice set of pencil boxes, Greg. The dovetails look well-cut and tight to knifewalls. I had never heard of kolrosing. It seems to me you’ve employed the technique to very good effect. Congrats. Woodworking by hand is an endless sea of discovery, int it?

    • gman3555 says:

      Thank you Carlos. The kolrosing is a Scandinavian technique. My examples are very, very basic.

      There are so many possibilities in woodworking that it would be impossible to even be aware of them all. Every culture throughout history has had their own set of techniques. I like to explore those and see what I can combine to create something that is uniquely my own. There are no limits if a person is willing to develop the skills. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So maybe I’m only creating things that look good to me and no one else. I’m OK with that. I derive joy just from the doing.


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