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Peggy Schmid Demonstrates for CMW – April 9, 2022

Peggy comes to us from the Atlanta area and demonstrated how to turn a lidded box for embellishment either with her dotting technique or with the use of polymer resin clay inserts.

Turning a lidded box:

The box was turned from a blank that was about 3.5” long and 3” in diameter.  She used sugar maple table leg cut offs obtained from New England Hardwoods. 

Turning the box:

Initial Shaping

  • Turn the blank round between centers
  • Create a tenon on both ends.  She suggests that the tenon be 1/8th inch wider than your closed chuck position. This reduces the chance of hitting your hand when turning the box and creates the most secure fit. 
  • Decide on the size of the top – Peggy uses about a quarter the way down the blank.
  • Decide on whether the flange will be on the top or the bottom of the box. Peggy prefers to put the flange on the top.  Make the flange about the size of the tenon.
  • Separate the top from the bottom using a thin parting tool and remove from the center pins.

Forming the box bottom

  • Mount the base section in the chuck.  Check to see that the bottom is running true. 
  • Shape the outside of the box, leaving wood at the base near the chuck.
  • Fit the flange of the top section to the base of the box.  Use calipers to mark the size of the flange on the surface of the box bottom.  Work from the center to the marked lines, going carefully until the top fits snuggly.  Use faster speed, small cuts and check frequently.
  • Once the lid fits, finish hollowing out the box using a small bowl gouge and a small scrapper.  You will want to leave a small “shelf” on the inside of the flange for the chuck to sit on when removing the tenon.
  • Measure to depth of the box, so that you leave room to remove the tenon. 
  • Sand the inside of the box and finish if not applying any dotting or resin to the inside of the box.  For this demonstration, Peggy used medical grade CA glue as her finish.  This is applied using pieces of polyester felt held in a hemostat.
  • Reverse the box bottom and fit the chuck inside the box bottom. The chuck will sit on the small “shelf” and expand to the inside edge for a snug fit – it doesn’t have to be super tight. 
  • Bring up the tail stock, shape the bottom of the box, following the curve of the inside shape. You will want to continue the shape of the outside into the wood near the tenon. 
  • Cut thin termination lines in the side of the box if using the dotting technique, or a slight recessed area if applying polymer clay to the box.
  • Finally, remove the tenon and create a concave recess so that the box will sit evenly.  The box will have a secure enough fit to remove the tail stock for the last cuts.
  • Sand the box and finish only the areas that will not have polymer clay or dotting

Forming the box top:

  • Mount the box top into the chuck using the tenon.
  • Clean the flange and check to see that it is fitting the box bottom well.  You may have to remove a small amount of the rim to make it level. 
  • Hollow out the inside of the top – using a gentle curve.  This will remove the weight of the top. Be careful not to go too deep because you will be removing the tenon.
  • Sand and finish the inside of the box.  Be careful not to sand the flange to maintain a tight fit.
  • Remove the top from the chuck.  Wrap the flange with a piece of blue tape and fit it into the chuck.  Check to see that is running true.
  • Shape the outside of the box top, making sure that the outside diameter is smooth with the box bottom. 
  • Make a groove, if “dotting” or a recess on the top for polymer clay.  Sand and finish only the portions not receiving paint or clay.

Embellishing:  Peggy described 2 embellishing techniques. 

Hint:  after sanding, Peggy used a “magic eraser” to remove the last bits of sand dust from the box before applying finish.  This ensures a smooth surface for any paint or clay that is applied.

Dotting technique

  • Apply color to the areas of the box that you wish to “dot”.  Color can be acrylic paint, alcohol ink, or enamel.  This is in the areas you marked with grooves on the box. 

Dots are applied using a dotting tool that is easily obtained from Amazon.  They come in various size balls or with a flat surface. 

  • Once the base color is dry, dots are applied in a random pattern or using a mandala design. 
  • The dotting paint can be regular or metallic acrylic paints.  Peggy used the paints from Deco Art which can be easily obtained from Walmart, Hobby Lobby, or Michaels. 
  • Once the dotting end is placed in the paint, the first dot will be heavier and subsequent dots will have less paint – creating a nice pattern.

Polymer Resin Clay:

  • Polymer clay can be combined in many colors.  If you are getting your own, buy all the same brand.  Peggy used black and white a lot.  There are many YouTube videos that will show you how to make “canes” from the clay in various patterns. If you don’t want to make your own, canes can be purchased from Etsy.
  • You will need a pasta machine to roll the polymer clay together.  You can get a hand cranked one at a craft store, or thrift store, or get one with a motor to make it easier to roll several colors together.  The clay must be fairly soft in order to combine colors.  To make a gradation in the colors, you will need to roll colors together, fold them and reroll through the pasta machine. 
  • Once you have a resin “cane”, thin slices are cut from each cane.  An adhesive is used on the recessed portion of the box you wish to decorate with clay.  Place the thin slices in the area as you wish using various patterns and sizes to fill in the recessed area.  
  • Once you have places all the clay pieces, use a roller to blend the pieces together. The roller can be smooth or textured.
  • Trim away any clay that extends beyond the grooves in your box.  Peggy used a scalpel blade and lifted up on the clay to form a clean edge. 
  • Bake the box with the clay resin in the oven using an aluminum foil tent over the box not touching the box).  You will need to do a test run to determine the temperature and time for your box. Peggy uses a temperature of 275 degrees for 40 minutes. If it is pliable, it is not done.
  • Another option is to make a flat piece or one shaped over a glass container, and glue it into your box as an insert.  The flat pieces are easily sanded to create a good fit 
  • Once baked, let the box cool for about 2 hours under the foil tent. 
  • Sculpy Clay makes a glaze coating if you want.  Peggy usually finished with a clean Krylon spray finish.  You can also use CA glue around the edges if you want. 


  • – She has a PDF for instruction on making the box. email:
  • Munro Crafts in Berkley Michigan – has all the supplies you will need including knife blades at a good price:
  • Mark Sillay for medical grade CA and activator: – Parfix 3408 and activator
  • Box blanks – can be obtained from New England Hardware through ETSY – use 16-3×3.5 sugar maple turning blanks – in the search engine.  Keep checking if they are not immediately available