Wenge Pencil Box

I finished up a gift pencil box for a friend. I have a bunch of lapel pins that I use for these projects. I cut off the back of the pin and then carve out a place to inset the pin into the box. Makes for a nice keepsake.

For this project, I used wenge for the sides and walnut for the bottom. I challenged myself to cut the smallest dovetails I’ve ever attempted and it was indeed a challenge. I almost scrapped this project to start over because I had so many problems. This is the completed box from the front:

wenge box front view

And from the top, showing the walnut bottom:

wenge box top view showing walnut bottom

I was originally going to make a sliding lid for this project, but that didn’t work out. I cut grooves for lid, but I cut them too close to the top of the box, so the top edge split the first time I tried to slide in a lid. So I improvised and shaved off the top grove to make it an open box. For the box top corners, I used a chisel to make little bevel edges so it looks like I planned it that way. I also had a heck of a time with the tiny dovetails. When I started this, I was thinking “I wonder how small I can go with dovetails?” Well, this is apparently as small as I can go with my experience level.

A few items of note for this project:

I used a Raamtang vise made many years ago. As I do many smaller projects, I find myself turning to this tabletop vise quite often. It’s a very useful appliance.

Raamtang Dutch tabletop vise

Planing the thin pieces took some creative work holding on my Nicholson bench.

work holding on my bench to plane small pieces

This is the setup I used to mark the tails. The hardest part about working with this wood: I could not see the lines, the wood is so dark.

marking the tails

When I was cutting the dovetails to the line, I used blue tape to mark where to stop since I had so much trouble seeing my lines. I used a Dozuki saw to cut the dovetails and it worked very well. I think I prefer using this saw over my western dovetail saw.

blue tape showing stop line on tails

A few holidays ago, I got this set of very tiny little chisels because my wife thought they were cute. I’ve never had occasion to use them until now! I felt ridiculous, but I couldn’t otherwise get at some of the places with my smallest regular-sized chisel.

tiny chisel used to chop out pins

Fun project, but looking forward to the large bookshelf I’ll be building next.

Troy Kitch @troykitch