carved box wth drawer, pt 2 or maybe 3 I forget

I finally got back to the carved oak box with drawer that I started.

till is next


I have been thinking about this box for a month, and was thrilled to get back to it. I shot a slew of photos yesterday and today. First, I had to make the till parts and install them, so I could then finish nailing the box together. Once I had the till’s trenches cut in the front & back, I nailed the back to the sides. Then after fitting the till, I nailed the front in place.

Planing thin stuff like the till lid gets scary when you shove it against the toothy-bench hook. I made a board with a very thin stop at one end, to sit the workpiece on, then I shove the board against the bench hook. 

planing till lid

There’s lots going on when you’re fitting the till parts; 3 pieces that can one at a time, or all together hang you up, and keep the box parts from fitting. A bunch of fiddling around gets you there. Best to take a breath when fitting a till. 

fitting till


I make the till lids from oak, often with a molded edge like this one. The till sides and bottom can be various woods in my work; all oak, white pine, or Atlantic white cedar. This one’s cedar. 






Then I worked on carving the drawer front; in this case based on/inspired by the original – but I didn’t copy it note for note. Outline begun. 

drawer front begun

Shaping & beveling. 

carving detail

Relieving the middles. 


I work at my regular joinery bench, often hunched right over the carving. Some carvers work higher, but I find I like to get right above it sometimes. 

low bench


This gives you an idea of the shaping, prior to adding the gouge-cut details. 



I just try to keep from making the same design on 2 consecutive rosettes. 

carving detail 2


I had one panel of oak ready for the bottom of the box. It needs a bevel on its rear end, to fit into a groove in the back board. The front edge fits in a rabbet. To bevel it, I jammed it up against some scrap and the bench hook. Held down with a holdfast. 


bevel bottom board

The inner edge gets a rabbet, so the next board will overlap this one. 



A dis-orienting shot – the box is upside down, This first bottom board slips into the groove, drops into the rabbet, then gets slid/knocked over til it bumps up to the inside end. 

bottom's up


Tap. tap. 


tap it over

Bang. Bang. 



Here’s where I quit for the day. 

first bottom board in


8 thoughts on “carved box wth drawer, pt 2 or maybe 3 I forget

  1. Nice sequences and comments Peter – thanks!
    Did you attach the snipe hinges for the lid early on before you attached the back? Seems like a smart way to go!

    • Hi Peter -not in NZ yet then? Yes, after many years, I hit on the idea to install the hinges in the box’s rear board before assembly. Give me long enough, & I’ll catch on…

  2. Hello Peter,
    I was interested to see that you are carving different flower motifs in the guilloche ornament. This struck a chord. I have been researching and analysing a timber-framed building called The Reader’s House in Ludlow, Shropshire, here in the UK. This has a spectacular storeyed porch – dated 1616. There are carved consoles on the facade and carved angel figures in the spandrels of the doorhead. On each side of the door (the jambs) the timbers are carved with guilloche ornament with flower motifs very similar indeed to the work you have been doing. A fascinating aspect is that there are three designs of flower and these repeat – 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, etc. The flower designs are also linked to the flower motifs carved on the consoles. All, undoubtedly, by the same hand. I was going to send you a couple of images but there seems to be no provision here so to do.
    My specialist subject involves research concerning vernacular buildings, mainly of 15th to 17th century date, that often contain superb carved work carried out to cabinet maker’s standard.
    Seeing the work that you do helps to inform further my understanding of the craftsmanship involved. Keep up the good work.
    With best wishes,
    Duncan James

    ps. I have just checked on the Internet and the link below will take you to an illustration.

  3. I use a bench-hook like appliance for planing thin stock with the hook against the end of the bench. It’s more stable than pushing up against a narrow toothed stop.

    • Well, Jim – you couldn’t tell because I didn’t take any shots of it dis-assembled. I figured I must have covered tills in detail on the blog somewhere in the past 6+ years – but come to find out all my pictures of tills stink! It’s a round, whittled tenon on the ends of the till lid. these fit in holes bored on the inside of the chest or box.

      next time, I guess I have to shoot the un-installed till lid.

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