Canadian Woodworking

Comparing two bold boxes

Blog by Rob Brown
Simon Jewel box

I came upon a nice box by Simon Jewell, a maker in the United Kingdom, while surfing the internet the other day.

You can read more about this box and see some other photos of it at

Though I prefer his design, Simon’s box reminded me of a box I made about 10 years ago that was in our Oct/Nov 2014 issue. I bent-laminated the top to give it an attractive curve, then shaped the box sides and ends around it. It’s often easier to shape the curved piece first, then cut everything else to match. I really like what Jewell did with the veneer work on the lid of his box, not to mention the subtle shaping of the sides. It’s details like these that help produce a very beautiful object; one that stands out from the crowd. The top on our boxes have a similar shape to them; each pair of opposing sides mirror each other, though each pair of sides is very different than the other. The veneer work on his box makes it stand out quite a bit from mine.

This article I wrote was called “Box of Many Curves,” and it had a pierced carved piece of solid wood inset into its curved lid. This reminded me of my post last week when I wrote about my scroll saw (“Who will speak for the humble scroll saw”), and although I could have made this pierced carving with a scroll saw, I didn’t have one at the time, so I used a fret saw and a steady hand. The process took a bit longer, but what’s a woodworker without a scroll saw to do?

“Shell III”

Simon Jewel, of the United Kingdom, made this curly walnut and macassar ebony box. Although the grain on the lid is quite bold, notice how the grain on the rest of the box is very straight and subtle.

Simon Jewel box

Somewhat Similar

I made this box about 10 years ago, and it appeared in our Oct/Nov 2014 issue. I find it has some similarities to Simon’s box (straight-grained sides, a curved lid, an overall shape that’s slightly off square,) but it also has some obvious differences.

Rob Brown box

Funky lid

The lid sits on four brass pins inset into the inner faces of the sides. To open the lid, you press down on one end of the it, and grasp the other end as it raises upwards. I enjoy making boxes with slightly different details than are expected. Usually a box has a lid that’s lifted off or is hinged.

Have you come across any lids that require a slightly different approach to removing them? Post some links in the comments section, or send me images or links to what you’ve come across. Or maybe you’ve made a box like this yourself. If so, I’d love to see it.

Back to the U.K.

Poke around Simon’s website and check out some of his other pieces. They’re quite incredible. Veneer plays a big role in his work, and he also comes up with some fantastic designs that are certainly “outside of the box,” shall we say.

By Hand, Slowly

While a scroll saw is often used to remove most of the waste from a pierced carving, I used a fret saw because I didn’t have a scroll saw at the time. I pasted a pattern to the insert before cutting out the waste.

rob brown box

The Final Pierced Carving

Once the main sections of waste were removed, I used a chisel to remove material from the top of some of the remaining sections of wood to create more of a three-dimensional effect. I also added two layers of contrasting veneer around the perimeter of the insert.

Rob Brown box
Last modified: April 6, 2023

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches


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  2. My neighbour next door has boxes on legs that are waist high. She bought them online from someone in the Niagara peninsula but I don’t remember the price – though I thought they were inexpensive.

  3. Hello Rob. Would you have any ideas on how to make planter boxes that stand off the ground? My husband and I are older and have a hard time getting down on the ground but we would like to make some planter boxes that have legs. Any ideas for us…

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