octagon box

This box was created at the request of a client who wanted an octagonal box made from two different types of wood that he had given me — blistered big leaf maple and a redwood burl.  I recently learned that he didn’t use the boxes I made for him and that they were purely decorative.  Knowing that the box wasn’t going to hold anything opened up more design options for me.

The design inspiration for the box came from some triangular off-cuts from another project.  I was idly playing with the pieces on my bench one day and I randomly put them together so that they looked like a pinwheel.  I loved the kinetic nature of the shape and wanted to capture that in the box.  So I elongated the proportions, tapered the pieces and made the sides parallelograms rather than rectangles.  What I ended up with is a box that has a lot of implied movement and a bit of playfulness.

The sides of the box are made of blistered big leaf maple.  Since the box was more decorative than functional and didn’t have to contain its contents I kept all of the sides separated from their neighbors by about 1/8″, allowing you to glimpse inside the box.   The sides are connected with aluminum dowel.  I love the contrast of the warm, natural wood with the cooler contemporary feel of the aluminum.

For the lid, I chose a section of burl that had an intriguing bit of live edge on it.  I de-barked it and cleaned it with a wire brush.  I left all of the cracks, fissures, bore holes and other features of the wood unaltered as I wanted it to be as close to its natural state as possible.  The live edge provides a handle and another opportunity to glimpse inside the box.

To embellish the box, I inlaid small decorative ‘dots’ of burl in each of the side pieces, creating a rhythmic pattern that pulls your eye around the box.

The box was coated with a 3-part oil finish and hand-rubbed to a soft luster.  The resulting surface is satiny-smooth and invites one to explore the surfaces with your fingers as much as with your eyes!