• Skills

    Woodworking, reclaiming, splines

  • Materials

    Yellow pine, cherry, teak oil, varnish

  • Inspiration

    A project in a box-making book. Materials selected for contrast, and to eliminate throwing out scraps.

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Decorative Gift Box with Corner Splines

Small boxes are a great way to exercise precision. In large projects you can often hide slop in the scale of the material in a way you just can’t get away with in a small piece. Small projects are a terrific way to utilize small quantities of exotic/expensive lumber. The sides of this decorative gift box are made from completely non-exotic pine. The mitered corners are reinforced with bubinga splines, adding visual interest to what might otherwise be a plain box.

Spline Detail

A spline is a simple strip of wood used to join to pieces. Splines are created by sawing matching holes in the work pieces, then fitting a strip of material (the spline) into the groove. Mitered box corners are an end-grain-to-end-grain joint, which can be quite week.  Splines add long-grain-to-long-grain glue surface to the join.  They add both strength and detail to the design.

This box featured bubinga splines. It’s a great way to utilize small quantities of an incredibly expensive material.

Lid Detail

This decorative gift box features a cherry lid. The bottom of the lid is captured by the box opening.  The lid features multiple angles: the sides are gently angled in toward the box. The top of the lid has a slight graceful descent.


One of the reasons I love woodworking is because I think wood is inherently beautiful. It feels damn-near criminal to cover wood with paint. The box is finished with teak oil. Teak oil tends to bring out the natural character and figure to the wood it’s applied to, and adds a silky yet natural sheen.  I clear-coated the box with a single coat of varnish.