Heirloom box in wild cherry and London plane (often called lacewood).
The heirloom box is now almost forgotten as a traditional wedding gift (normally from the bride’s parents to the bride). Catherine Middleton was given one, made by Ian Hawthorne (see ‘Chums’). But they can be equally relevant as a Christening gift, for an anniversary or graduation.
I use solid hardwoods and traditional joinery (dovetails for example). This places extreme importance on the selection of woods, their handling and preparation - to ensure lasting stability.
I don't make many boxes and every one will be totally unique, usually starting with a detailed briefing discussion. Overall size, intended contents and likely surroundings are all considered with care..
A box like this will take as long to make as a full size cabinet, but given good time and a clear brief I will make it sensibly affordable.
*The Crown Estate is removing selected planes from within the Tower, to be replaced by oaks. Confusingly, London plane is actually a French native, not English at all.
Handmade using fine solid hardwoods
Many boxes use a base of manmade board finished with fine veneers. I prefer to use solid hardwoods throughout. I go to very considerable lengths to source the ideal woods. They have to be extremely stable (over decades or more) and will always be air-dried and old.
This box uses wild English cherry with London plane (known as lacewood) for drawers. The knobs and bun-feet are Madagascar ebony (hand-turned).
The London plane used here actually grew within the grounds of The Tower of London. (It's a long story but some of the planes there are being replaced by oaks - the 'London' plane really being a French native.)
Traditional dovetails and mouldings
All cabinet joinery is traditional - dovetails, mortice & tenons etc.
The final profile of mouldings was created using an old hand-tool called a scratch-stock (see 'First you make the tool' in the Journal).
The ebony knobs are hand-turned (freehand) so vary a tiny amount. This is a part of what I feel defines 'hand-made'.
The tray is lined with finest kid leather. The recessed higes are made by Ian Hawthorne (see 'Chums') and are the very best box hinges available anywhere.
Here you see the fine figuring of the wild Cherry.
This was the first test fit of the drawers, which are made to just fit and then trimmed very slightly (a few thousands of an inch).
The top and sides are made in two halves, bookmatched so the grain pattern is mirror-imaged about the centre vertical joint.