Sunday, April 22, 2012

Birthday Box

As hard as it is for me to believe, it's time for another birthday present for my boy. He loves to draw, so I decided on making a box to hold all his pencils, crayons etc.

Now normally my posts start from the beginning and follow the creation process through to the product. This one's going to be different - mostly because as the time crunch came on, the picture taking pretty much stopped.

So here it is, a bit backwards, but hopefully still worthwhile.

The completed box:

And now for what I have in way of "step-by-step" photographs.

The beginning:

The middle:

The end (assuming that you understand that by "end" I mean end of the beginning):

And pictures of two tips or techniques that I've found useful for making this style of box (which is really just a giant version of my pencil box):

The first involves shortening one end section to allow the top to slide in and out of the grooves. I rip down the center of the groove and then plane the remaining waste down to the bottom of the groove (well, "bottom" when the piece is oriented as it is in the finished box). It is easy to go too far, and then the lid does not fit snug; there is a gap between it and the end of the box. My improved technique is to first take a pencil and draw a line down the back corner of the remaining groove. As soon as this planes off, I stop. Pretty simple, but pretty darn effective. Why did it take me so long to think of that?

The second is a simple way to test the fit of the rabbeted bottom (or top) into the grooves in the box sides. I just grab an offcut of the grooved stock and use that as a handy gauge to test the rabbets. Again, simple but effective, and embarrassingly slow to come to me.

I guess I better start planning next year's birthday present, as it will be here before I know it!


  1. Dan,

    Great work. Is this something you would consider for a class project? I have just been told I will be teaching Crafts next year and I am looking for projects. We have no woodshop, so I was leaning that direction. It's also my strength, if there is one, in this class.


    1. Thanks Steve.

      I think it could make a good project, but it would depend on several factors: How many students? What tools are available? What are your work holding options? Etc.

      In some ways, since it is bigger, it is a little more forgiving than the pencil box. I think you might also want to consider making wooden spoons.

  2. I like the doweled joints. It looks nice in this size.

    I just recently bought a Record 44C so I've been building pencil boxes per your old posting. I made them previously with a router table, so this has been an interesting and fun contrast. And doing several one after the other has been enlightening in a way that making one-offs cannot. I've been meaning to take pictures and post something to Lumberjocks, but I suspect it would be a largely inferior reprise of your blog posting.

    1. Thanks Scott - and I agree, when you make something again and again, you become more aware of the work flow, but also more in tune with the whole process. I notice that I much more regularly avoid mistakes, not because I "fix" my technique, but because I am more effective at "listening" to the wood and tools etc. I don't know if that makes sense...

    2. Oh, I forgot - technically the joint is not doweled - it's screwed with finish screws and then bunged. I've had a few of my students' pencil boxes fail at the joint after an impact. This box has more surface area for glue, but is also big enough to screw, so I did both, as I am sure it will have a hard life.

  3. That's a great looking box and a great weekend project that I might have to steal! My kids love to draw too.

  4. I like it. Looks like one of those boxes you get with expensive wines.

  5. Ah, I think I just accidentally deleted a real comment - very sorry...


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