"My Tell-Tale Heart"

“My Tell-Tale Heart” box series was designed and created to celebrate my younger brother’s wedding. Right from the start I knew I wanted to make them a special box. They got married on Halloween which was a big influence on the design. Taken from one the most famous pieces of gothic literature, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edger Alan Poe, I translated the beating of the heart in the floor boards to something a little more cheerful….the sounds of their hearts beating for each other. Since you can’t really do the sound part in wood I represented the heart beating with morse code. Looking at the boxes you will see there are four separate stands, each containing a different style of box. The four styles represent the word “LOVE” spelled out in morse code. One pictures shows the “L” boxes off their stand and how the stand itself contains the dots and dashes needed to signify the letter “L”.


L : ..-.
V: ...-
E: .


The main bodies of the “L” boxes are made from East Indian Rosewood. The lid has a floating panel of quilted maple and all the edges are lined in curly maple. A miter joint was used. The grain of the rosewood is continuous around the box.


The “O” boxes are made from quartersawn sycamore and bocote. I used a mortise and tenon joint along with handmade 1/8” ebony dowels to make it. The lids are held in place using brass pins. The shape of the box was made using a drill press, bandsaw, oscillating spindle sander and hand rasps.


The main bodies of the “V” boxes are made from curly maple using a miter joint. Black walnut splines where used to strengthen the joints. The lids are made from ziracote and curly maple handles turned on the lathe.


The “E” box is made from a lamination of wenge/bloodwood/wenge. I used miter joints. I did the shaping on an OSS. I loved how sanding into the box exposed the bloodwood. The lid is made from wenge. Hard to see but it has a very asian inspired shape.


All the bases are made from black walnut. After constructing them I ebonized them using a steel wool/vinegar mixture. After that I texturized the angle cut sides using a 3/8” router bit on a Foredom, which exposed fresh black walnut. Finished with that I then stained them with a dark reddish mahogany stain. It made the ebonizing even darker and the carved areas became a mixture of dark red and black. All the stands are lined in red velvet to really make the morse code pop out. Items can also be placed in the stands since the boxes all lift off.


All the boxes are lined in black velvet. Size wise I tried to keep everything in a 2.5” scale meaning the dot boxes are around 2.5” x 2.5” x 2.5” and the dash boxes are 5” x 2.5” x 2.5”. The boxes and stands all got 3 soakings of Danish oil. The boxes where polished using a Beall system and the bases got a liquid wax applied. Overall there is over 5 feet of boxes!



“My Tell-Tale Heart” is in a private collection.


Jeff Baenen Boxes

Kenosha, WI



Tel: 847 331 0756