Introduction: Marilyn Monroe Walnut & Maple Box

About: Average Can Be Extraordinary

This box would make a great gift especially for Christmas which is just around the corner.

I have made a video showing how I made the box here:

Material Used:

  • American Black Walnut
  • Maple
  • Black Milliput (Epoxy Putty)
  • SmartHinges with Screws
  • Gloss Spray Lacquer
  • Self Adhesive Paper

Tools Used:

  • Table Saw
  • Router
  • Rotary Tool
  • Hand Plane
  • Orbital Sander
  • Drill
  • Screw Driver
  • Sand Paper
  • Masking Tape
  • Wood Glue
  • Printer

Step 1: Cut Walnut

I didn't use any specific dimensions on this project. I made what i could from the materials I had. So this is where you can choose your desired sizes yourself.

I cut the walnut to width on the table saw.

With the walnut cut to the desired width its time to create a rebate on the edges. This is basically a groove that will later except the maple top and bottom pieces to the box. I remove this material by lowering my blade on the table saw and the cutting away the width of the blade one pass at a time. Moving the fence and repeating until all the material is removed.

Then set my mitre saw to 45 degrees before using it to cut the walnut to length. You need 2 long pieces at the same length and 2 short pieces at the same length. Unless you choose to make a square box of course then all 4 sides need to be the same length.

Step 2: Glue Walnut

Gluing mitres can be awkward so I always use masking tape to hold the pieces together while the glue dries.

Lay the pieces flat with the outside edge facing up. But up the mating pieces and add a piece of masking tape across the joint. Do this for all 4 sides.

Then flip them over to have the inside edges facing up. Add the wood glue to the mitres corners then roll the pieces up and secure with the last piece of masking tape. You can add more tape all the way round to add some extra pressure too.

This is the easiest way I have found to glue up mitres.

Step 3: Cut Maple

To fit the maple it needs to be cut to size so it will sit snugly into the grooves made earlier in the walnut.

There needs to be 2 pieces of Maple cut. 1 for the top and 1 for the bottom of the box.

I trimmed it close to the width it needed to be and then used my hand plane to remove the final amount until it would fit into the box. Once the width was snug I cut it to length using a sled on my table saw.

The fit is a little difficult to push in by hand but it will definitely hammer into place later.

Step 4: Carve Design

I printed the design I wanted onto some self adhesive paper. I then stuck it to the maple which will be the top of the box.

Using a rotary tool I carved away the areas in black. It may take some practice but it is very easy to do. Take your time and just feel for how the tool wants to move. Once you get to know the how the tool wants to move it becomes very easy to counteract it and you will get some great results.

Remove the material so it is below the surface. The depth doesn't have to be the same all over just make sure it is deep enough to be sanded later and retain the detail.

Step 5: Fill & Sand Design

To create the inlay, I used Milliput which is a 2 part epoxy putty. I use it all the time. I have a playlist put together of projects I have used it in here:

I have an amazon affiliate link if you are interested in getting some milliput here:

All you need to do is mix equal parts together until the colour is solid and there are no streaks.

Then its just a case of filling in the areas carved earlier. I always mound it above the surface because even though it sets like stone it is still very easy to sand.

After leaving it over night to set I sand away the excess with my random orbital sander. It doesn't take long at all to do. I love to see the design start to show through. Even though I know its there its still a surprise to see how it turned out.

Step 6: Glue Maple & Cut Lid Free

Now the design is done its just a case of gluing the top and bottom of the box into place.

Add glue to the groves and then add the maple into place. A couple of knocks with the mallet and they are done. If the fit is good there is no need for clamps. If its a little loose its best to add some clamps while the glue dries.

You may think we have made a mistake by gluing the top and bottom into place. How can the box open? Well we are going to cut it free on the table saw.

It may look dangerous but take your time, hold the piece steady and it is an easy procedure to do. I raised the blade so it would cut through the thickness of the sides. Then I made a cut on each to side turning the box each time.

The lid is now free.

Step 7: Fit Hinges

I decided to use some SmartHinges for the box I made. I think they are perfect for this project. They are concealed hinges that have a positive stop just past 90 degrees so the box lid will stay open on its own.

To fit them you can use an 8mm or 5/16 inch router bit. I used 8mm for fitting mine.

I got my hinges from the same site that has excellent instructions for fitting the hinges. I highly recommend you follow those here:

The hinges come with screws which is great. I put the hinges into place and mark the holes so I can drill pilot holes. I then add the screws to make sure it all fits correctly.

Step 8: Spray Finish & Done

I removed the hinges and sanded everything to 320 grit by hand.

I used gloss spray lacquer for the finish. I used 4 coats sanding between each coat. Then its just a case of adding the hinges back and the box is done.

I hope you like it and give it a go for yourself.