Projects: Making a Cutlery Box

A piece of some exotic African wood

It is not always that a woodworker gets to showcase a beautiful piece of wood. Often, the object is such that a large splendid plank of wood has to be sawn to smaller size or fitted in a manner that does not befit its aesthetics. Table tops, counters, large panels and the like offer opportunity to show off lovely wood.

I had a couple of planks of some exotic African wood - the seller couldn't say what it was - lying around and I could not for the life of me decide what to do with it until I hit upon the idea of a cutlery box. This isn't an essential or common object around the house but can add a touch of class to a dining situation. A cutlery box can be carried to the table or sideboard and used as necessary.

Top and bottom

I had just about enough wood to cut and join the planks to make the top and bottom of the outer case of the cutlery box. I used Oak for the sides and White Ash for the rest.

The outer Case in clamps

I used straightforward joinery methods for the outer case construction: routing trenches for the sides and a groove for the back. Once fitted, I glued all five parts together to form the case.

Outer Case Ready for finish

The drawers came next. After the usual fussing with the fit of the sides and front, I marked and cut dovetails. After the box was ready, I added a piece of wood as a slip to the inside of the front, then routed a groove to take the plywood bottom. The back of the drawer was cut to allow the back to slide in as is done with most drawers. I finally attached a false front to the dovetailed drawer. This was a piece of old Padauk marked by fine beetle holes.

Dovetails on the drawer sides

Drawer in clamps

Finishing was the best part because both the Padauk and the top and bottom took polish well. I used my favourite finish - de-waxed Shellac - and found it was such a pleasure applying it on receptive wood.

Cutlery Box Finished

Once the drawer was complete, I made and fitted dividers, and attached a brass pull.

It was a fairly straightforward project, the making of which I have shown in a video uploaded on Youtube, which could be viewed at

Indranil Banerjie
4 May 2020


  1. I have been following your excellent blog for a while now, the standard of your woodworking skills is something I hope to reach one day. Have done a few projects around the house mostly with plywood and finished with laminate only because they are readily available....lots to learn.

    I recently bought a second hand harmonium for my son and couldn't help but admire the woodworking that went into it. While the principle behind it seems simple I have a feeling there's more to it than meets the ear.

    I am sure readers would find the makings of a harmonium interesting, and only you can do justice to reveal its secrets. Hence my request to you to do an article on the woodworking involved in making a harmonium. Thanks and regards.

    1. Thanks for your comments but my woodworking standards are not as high as I would like them to be. Still miles to go. As for harmonium making, I have no clue but my friend, the excellent guitar maker-painter-woodworker Manmeet Singh has been making them. I will have a chat with him and put up something that might e of interest to you and others. Best wishes.


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