Winter Leaves Box

Winter Leaves Box

I took some photos of the wet winter garden in December, I was feeling pretty low because SAD really kicks me hard these days. I was pleased with some of the photos and this one reminded me of some pictures of marquetry I'd been looking at. I was thinking of trying out some myself, and I thought this would be a good thing to start from. Why not use the miserable winter full of decaying things to make something nice and new?

The box is 15cm by 15cm by 7.5cm and contains a single drawer. It's made out of 3mm MDF, the veneers are a combination of birch and walnut (I think). I used a laser cutter to put all the bits out.

The inspiration, our garden path covered in fallen cherry leaves

I wanted this to be interesting and to create something I'd be glad I made, so I wanted the wood grain to create the impression of the leaf structure. That meant cutting individual pieces and rotating them so they would be aligned to the wood grain, then when I brought them together they would fan out to create a realistic leaf image. I traced some real leaves and invented others, and some I broke down into small parts, others I left with larger areas. The real leaves on the path had a similar variation in details, depending on how decomposed they were.

The worst jigsaw

I wanted the light areas to be a single kind of wood, but I was using a pile of offcuts I'd bought and liked the idea of just using those and not ordering specific things. So I used the leaf shapes to cut out the background in a couple of lighter woods.

Putting the veneers together

I laid out the leaf pieces to make sure they all fit and that I would be able to assemble them quickly while the glue was wet. I was using Titebond 'Cold Press for Veneer' glue which gives you plenty of time, but even so I didn't want to push my luck.

One problem I had was with the drawer front, which I'd bevelled to 45 degrees. The glue and the veneer caused the thin edge to curl a little bit. It means the drawer doesn't sit as flush and neatly as it did before I put the veneer on. Something to keep in mind in future projects.

Still putting the veneers together, with quite a bit of glue everywhere

The drawer pull I designed to resemble a leaf that had been folded and was sticking up. There were a few of these on the path, though not visible in the photo above (they were on other bits of the path). I used waxes to fill in the gaps in the veneer, which was very satisfying.

Adding some wax, and installing the drawer pull

I had a few ideas of what to do with the inside of the drawer, but I decided to go with these gold leaf flakes I had. It resembles the broken up rough texture of the path itself, but obviously with a lot more shine.

Golllllld! Well, fake gold

The finished box. I'm very pleased with it.

The finished box

And you open the drawer and it's like that bit in Pulp Fiction with the briefcase.

The finished box with the drawer open