Small box was fun (and quick) to make
I like making boxes. It’s something you can make in an afternoon or evening from just a bit of wood. And when you’re used to working on a piece of furniture for weeks, or months, at a time, it’s refreshing to get something done in just a few hours. However, boxes are a challenge, too. Because they are small there is no room for mistakes–not in the joinery, not in the design, and not in the finish. That’s another reason I like them.
And that’s how I found myself down in the shop recently on a Friday night. Earlier in the day, I had come up with an idea for a small box subdivided into smaller sections. I wanted the section dividers to be just as tall as the box sides, so that the lid would need to be cut up into smaller lids. I thought the strong geometric look would be attractive. I also thought that it would be fun to size all of the parts using my Phi ruler. Once I got into the shop, I realized that because the overall dimensions of the box were on the small side (about 2 in. wide by 4 in. tall by 6 in. long), I couldn’t put in as many dividers as I had wanted, so I went with just one. But I located it by dividing the internal space according to the golden ratio (Phi). I really like the way it turned out.
|More on Box-Making Basics
• Video Workshop: Box-Making
• Making a Wooden Box Hinge
• Make a Bandsawn Box
• A Better Way to Build Boxes
It took me about 3 or 4 hours to make the box. I used a mix of hand tools and power tools. I planed the miter joints on my shooting board, and cut the grooves for the bottom with my grooving planes. The rabbets for the tops were done at the router table with a rabbeting bit, which I also used to rabbet the bottom. The divider is joined to the sides with a bird’s beak joint, which I routed with a 90 degree v-groove bit.
The box body is English elm, left over from my box making video workshop. The lids are flame birch, I think. The wood came from a table leg. My mother-in-law gave me an antique table with the understanding that I’d re-use the wood to build stuff–the table wasn’t worth keeping intact–so I don’t really know what it is. (I really need to make her something!) I had a perfectly sized piece of ebony scrap for the pulls. I’m in the process of making padded inserts for the two sides. They’ll be covered in the fabric you see.
A note on the Phi ruler: I bought the 36 in. version because I wanted a long ruler, and I was confident that it would be easy to read and well-made. It hasn’t disappointed me. However, I’d never used it as a Phi ruler until this box. I liked it and could see using it for boxes again. I don’t think I’d use it for furniture, though. I really don’t use a ruler very much when making furniture. After I build a carcass, I fit everything directly to the case. I wish I had a shorter version for boxes, though. I suppose Christmans isn’t too far off.