Freeform Box

These freeform boxes make a great gift and are a classy way to show off your small marquetry designs.  The box is a variation on the classic band saw box and is easily made.  It’s a favorite box with our club members.

Note: For more on Free Form Boxes, see page 42 of Ken’s book, Basic Marquetry and Beyond.

You can select any kind of wood or combination of woods you’d like.  Red Oak is commonly available and it’s straight grain patterns make it easy to hide the glue lines.  Walnut is another great choice, but any hardwood will do.

The small size of the box is perfect for smaller marquetry patterns like a single flower, butterfly, fish, or whatever you’d like.  Veneer is often sandwiched between layers of the box to add contrast to the side and to give the box an interesting inside bottom.


Hardwood of your choice: 20″ L x 4.5″ w x 3/4″ thick
(4) – 1/4 diameter flat rare earth magnets.
Various veneers, glue, tape, and sandpaper


Table saw
Chop saw
Band saw
Drill press
Rasps and files
Spindel sander or belt sander (optional)
Saber saw (optional)

Making the Box:

1. Start with 1 piece of Red Oak, 20” L. x 4.5” W x 3/4″ Thick.
2. Cut into 3 equal length pieces. (Each about 6.5” L.). Use Chop Saw.
3. Glue 2 of the blocks together either with or without a piece of veneer in between.
4. While the glue is setting, re-saw the 3 rd block to give two 3/8” thick pieces. These will be your box top and bottom. Use Big Band Saw.
5. Remove clamps and put app tape on the top of the glued-up block.
6. Draw the outside and inside shapes of your box on the top. (Free Form shape)
7. Drill a 1-in. diam. hole through each end to define the inside walls. Use one of the Drill Presses.
8. Use saber saw and cut out interior of box.
9. Use rasps, files, sand-paper and smooth inside walls.
10. Glue 3/8” bottom on box with veneer between, or no veneer.
11. Draw outside shape of box.
12. Cut outside of the box to shape (Incl. newly added bottom) with 1/4-in. band-saw.
13. Sand and smooth outside of box.
14. Temporarily fasten top to box with double-sided tape.
15. Drill two 1/4″ holes through top into box walls. About 3/8” Deep in box walls.
16. Cut 1-in. dowels to length, about 1” long.
17. Insert dowels and attach top.
18. Cut top to shape; using dowels as positioners. Use 1/4-inch Band Saw.
19. Shape and sand top to shape.
20. Use dowel holes as guides to add magnets.
21. Add marquetry to top. This covers the 1/4″ holes in top.
22. Sand and finish.

Examples of completed boxes:

00 Linda Free Form Butterfly

Linda’s box with butterfly


Linda’s box


Ken’s box with flower


Ken’s box with rose.