The Box with a Great View

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Practice your miter joint skills while building this attractive mahogany box that features a glass window and a hidden compartment. 

This project is intended for people who either collect or turn pens or who wish to create a very personal gift presentation. (I originally designed this box for my wife.) Beneath the framed glass top lies a lined velour space which stores up to six pens, and below this is a secret compartment for one last, very special pen. The project is a real router workout, but the most visible joinery involves the mitered corners.  

My interest in building boxes dates back to my Army days when I was assigned for a time to a unit that made gifts, such as cigar boxes and pistol boxes, for visiting dignitaries and others. In order to make the joints in my boxes as inconspicuous as possible, I began using miter joints which achieved my goal when cut very true. The challenge in this project is to cut consistently accurate 45° miters.

Using a vintage Craftsman contractor saw, I cut 5/8"-thick pommele mahogany to build the main parts of the box. Pommele is a French term that means “dappled,” and your supplier may refer you to a specific species called sapele when you ask for mahogany with this figure. If you don’t have access to a thickness planer, rip the stock to a hair over 5/8" thick, and plane (or belt sand) to the final dimension.

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