Tag Archives: box

Lisa’s Geological Specimen Box


When Christmastime was rolling around, I had some gifts (almost all of them, I guess) that would require access to Schenk’s laser cutter.  But then he was called out of town at the last minute.  Oh no!  Fortunately, his wife was kind enough to allow me to stop by and finish my gifts in time for Christmas.  When I was walking out the door with my arms loaded with gift parts, I told her that I would design her something worthwhile.

The BPAL Box for Isaac’s wife Cyl.  The Needlepoint Box for Pete’s Wife Sarah.  I decided to continue the tradition of box-making tailored to the recipients specific hobby.  Something that makes them unique.  For their wedding centerpieces last year, Lisa deployed some of her finest mineralogical specimens to support the rustic, natural theme of their reception.  But visiting their home a few months later, I saw some of them in a bucket.  That just won’t do.

DSCN3900I doodled a couple ideas for what I wanted the box to look like.  I knew I wanted shallow sample trays, so each specimen would be easily visible and accessible.  I wanted doors on the front so that the trays wouldn’t slide out during transport.  If the doors were deep enough, I could make space for smaller containers for sands, soils, and agates, along with specimen maintenance tools like brushes and loupes.

Withe dimensions roughed out on paper, I translated the design into Sketchup so that I could get some hard numbers.

I didn’t want visible screws, so this box marked my foray into plate-joinery.  I received a plate joiner as a gift last year, but haven’t had an opportunity to use it.  The box was going to have rocks in it, and I didn’t want it coming apart when moving it.

DSCN3904The carcase is made of 1/2″ sandeply joined with biscuits, and the trays are Poplar fronts with 1/4″ MDF joined using my 17-gauge pin nailer.  After assembling the third tray, I finally got the idea that the MDF wouldn’t split if I pinned it closer to the middle of the boards.  Better late than never.  I didn’t trust myself notching all the tray dividers on the table saw, so it was a perfect job for the laser cutter.

Each tray got a wipe-down of paste wax on the bottoms and sides for a smooth ride in and out of the box.  The drawers fit so snugly that they give a little owl “hoot” when pushing them back in; the escaping air has to pass over the tops of the sample compartments, in effect creating a type of whistle.

Brass hardware keeps everything together.  Even though I wanted to use nickel hardware, I was kind of forced to use brass hardware since I couldn’t find the handles I wanted in nickel.  Lisa’s keeps the collection secure with an antique brass lock.

DSCN3903The box was finished with Dark Walnut stain and two layers of semi-gloss poly.  Before applying the poly, I cut out stencils on the Cameo for each side of the box and applied a quick spray of rattlecan white.

For maximum personalization, I created a name plate so that there would be no question or confusion as to who owned the box, and what was inside.

Lessons Learned

When working with plywood, if I’m making something nice as a gift, I need to either apply edge banding to the exposed plywood edge, or paint the whole box.  I finish the plywood surface because I wanted to give a ‘finished wood’ look, but the exposed ply edges really take away from the whole aesthetic.

Also, I got to use my plate joiner for a practical project, which was fairly easy and fun.

Christmas Boxes for Aunt Gloria

At thanksgiving, I drew my Aunt Gloria’s name out of the bowl for our family’s secret-santa.  Decided on making a pair of small boxes.

IMG_2705The bodies of the boxes are miter-joined Maple with Oak keys on the side edges.  The lids are a miter-joined Oak frame with 1/8″ laser-cut plywood set in a slot in the frame.

The box on the left is laser-cut all the way through.  It features my aunt and uncle’s name around a monogrammed initial, and is intended to be a potpourri box (I included a bag of potpourri to drive that point home).  The box on the right is etched with just my aunt’s name, and is intended to be just a keepsake or jewelry box.

Lessons Learned:
I should have used a darker contrasting wood for the keys, like Walnut or Purple Heart.  I was hoping the Oak wood would absorb more of the darker stain.  Also, some of the filigree work on the potpourri lid is alarmingly thin.  A couple small pieces broke off, and I had to break off the mirrored pieces to retain a symmetrical look.  The filigrees look like they just touch the lid frame, but they extend to a sturdy rectangular piece that runs around the entire inside of the slot it fits in, so the majority of it is surprisingly sturdy.

A Needlepoint Project Box

IMG_0304aMy friend Sarah enjoys knitting and needlepoint in her spare time.  I noticed she kept her thread cards in one container, her scissors and pins in her sewing kit, and hoops and projects elsewhere.  Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, if she could keep all her needlepoint-related projects in one place?

When I sketched up the plans, I knew that I wanted to have a partitioned area to keep the little plastic ‘cards’ of thread, an area for miscellaneous supplies (I think sewing enthusiasts call these items ‘notions’), an area for the ‘skeins’ of thread waiting to be put on the cards (not sure of the technical term for those), and an area for hoops when they aren’t in use.

IMG_0302At first, I was going to have just one box with a lift-out tray.  But I wanted to have three separate compartments.  I figured I would put a drawer in the bottom for large, infrequently-used items, the lift-out tray for frequently used items, and the main bottom compartment for moderately sized, moderately-used items.

Instead of going with the lift-out tray, I decided to go with a fold-out style box, which I figured would be a bit more elegant and just as functional.

The box is made from Poplar with miter keys made from Purple Heart.  The lid is Purple Heart with a Poplar Frame.  I didn’t have a wide enough piece of Purple Heart for the lid, so I got to do my first book-matching rip on the table saw, and it turned out great.

IMG_0301To keep her mother-in-law (another needlepointer) from purloining the box, I burned Sarah’s full name deep into the lid using a Scrabble™ tile font I found online.  It’ll take a lot of belt sanding to get that name off the box.

Click to embiggen.

The lid is retained in an almost-upright position by a black chain on the right-hand side.  Since the lid is a little wider than 11.5″, I took a couple of scrap pieces of Purple Heart and used them as standoffs for a piece of Lexan.  That way, Sarah can keep needlepoint patterns with her projects.


Lessons Learned:In hindsight, I really wish I spent more time on getting the drawer flush with the front.  It looks fine head-on, but it sticks out a bit on the profile shot.

BPAL Scent Index – Proof of Concept

I have a friend that collects perfumes.  Lots of perfumes.  She showed me a perfume storage box on Etsy she had her eye on, and I thought I would rip off the design wholesale, and give it as a gift.

IMG_1293After creating a copy of Millinginline’s design in Sketchup, I started making modifications to it.  After an hour, I had a design that was all my own.  Millinginline’s design is made for compact ease-of-accessability, and features ‘bonus’ storage for odds and ends.  My design, however, holds standard 5ml bottles only, and would fan all the perfumes out at once.  I dubbed it The Peacock.

Got to work on the proof-of-concept.  It took forever to drill all the recessed holes for the perfumes to sit in, as the thing holds 150 5ml bottles of perfume.  There are two sets of doors on each side that are mirrored copies of each other.  One side of each panel is longer to act as a ‘kickstand’ to keep the box from tipping to the left or right.  Unfolded, the wingspan is pretty impressive.

IMG_1294I also noted that when folded up, there’s an unsightly gap between each ‘page’ of the Scent Index.  Something I’ll need to remedy before making the finished product.

Mom’s Keepsake Box

IMG_1282Welp, here it is.  The reason I started woodworking in general.  For Christmas, I wanted to make mom something, so I decided on a jewelry box.  I didn’t like any of the plans I found online, so I decided just to make one from scratch.  Doodled up some blueprints at work, then got down to business.

The box is Cherry with Walnut lid, base, and edge accents.  I routed a very wide groove along the sides to accommodate laser-cut panels glued to the sides.  The oval emblem on the front had two cut passes; the first pass was to cut out the emblem, and the second pass cut out an expanded oval that I could use as a template for the guide bushings on my router.

IMG_1281The lid is a Walnut frame surrounding thin Oak ply with a Rosewood veneer inlay.  I cut out and glued a mirror pane onto the underside of the lid, and added a chain to keep the lid from flopping back too far.

I also lined the inside of the box with navy blue velvet, which I did after I took the picture at the top of the post.

Lessons Learned
There’s a lot of wasted space under the drawer, and the box sits taller than I’d like.  I should have made the Walnut part of the base shorter, and eliminated the gap between the bottom of the drawer and the walnut base.  Maybe making the box wider or deeper would make it feel not so ‘tall’.

I picked up the least-intrusive handle I could find, but in hindsight I probably should have used a dresser-style hanging pull that would have sat more flush with the front of the box.

The Triskelmoon Hoard

IMG_1274I have a friend who is fond of dragons, so for my first foray into box making, I thought I’d make her a dragon-themed box.  I found a sizable assortment of vectorized dragons online and chose a few to use in the project. I also figured that this would be excellent practice for making a keepsake/jewelry box for mom.

The box is made from cheap Pine obtained at Home Depot.  The sides were shaved down to accommodate laser-cut panels that were then glued to the sides and front.

IMG_1278The lid inlay is Walnut veneer glued into a corresponding laser- etch so it sits flush with the lid.  The corner filigree work on the lid is etched, and you can plainly see that the etching is textured where the laser couldn’t quite penetrate the growth rings.

The whole thing was coated with semi-gloss polyurethane, and sanded between coats so that it feels mirror smooth.  I also glued a deep indigo velvet to the inside of the box and the inside of the lift-out tray.

Lessons Learned
How to build a box out of wood.  Using the laser to make veneer inlays.

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