"Art Box" Tutorial #12: Shaping

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Blog entry by Andy posted 08-11-2009 01:55 PM 33226 reads 46 times favorited 29 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: Butt or Barrel Hinges Part 12 of "Art Box" Tutorial series Part 13: Finishing »

Updated 1/16/12

This is the fun part!

Its scary too!
The idea of taking a nice crisp box, one you have spent countless hours making, and attacking it with a tool designed for slag removal is…well…its a little disturbing. Maybe I was influenced by old Hitchcock movies more than I know.

Seriously, what I enjoy is the freedom this gives me. Everything up to this point has been tied to measurements and careful setups. This is where we can cut loose a little. But slow down Hotrod!
A little care must be used or you will wind up with a ruined box. That has happened to me more than once when I first started playing around with this concept. Just go slow and you will be fine.

I like to mount my box to a stool or a low bench to keep it from moving. This places it at a comfortable height and allows me to shape the top, front and both sides. To shape the back, I remove the box and reset it facing backwards. ( An adustable stool with a top a little smaller than the box would be perfect since you could get at the top and all four sides, and raise it as needed.!)
I simply screw it to the stool right through the bottom, about center. The hole will get covered on the inside with a liner and a tag with the name of the box, woods, etc., will be pasted over the bottom hole.

The tools needed:

First of all, get a Moaning Stool or chair or something so you will be comfortable if you mess up. If you have been a woodworker very long you no doubt have a contingency plan.

I use a 4’’ angle grinder with a flexible sanding disc. I use a 50 -80 grit disc depending on the wood. A flap sanding disc works good too but they tend to burn or gum up so I use it after the heavy work has been done with the sanding disc.

The guard was removed for the picture.

You can use a random orbit disc sander from start to finish, though it will take longer,and inhibits freedom of movement, at least to me. I like the way I can get wide sweeping strokes by using the angle grinder, because it removes material faster, I can move faster,with a more natural fluid flow.

You could also use a Dremel or a Foredom with different attachments.

Or the old fashioned tried and true tools, chisels and gouges are an option.

Even a stationary sander with a disc and belt will give nice results.
(I used the radiused edge of my stationary belt sander to do much of the shaping on the sides of the “Deco Box” I used the grinder to establish the top details though.)

I recently bought a Merlin long neck angle grinder and I like it for detail work.The chainsaw works very well for hogging out small bowls and spoons. The carbide disc last forever and is great for recontouring edges and the flap sander eases it all together. Very nice tool for light work with good control.

My wife got a hold of it and made twenty spoons in a row.

What you use will determine how much control you have and the contours you want. Obviously a small handheld disc sander will allow much more freedom and will cut a tighter pattern than a 12’’ stationary sander. Feel free to use what you have, but experiment with it first on some scrap to see what profiles you can get.

How I do it:
I always start at the top and remover the edges of the medallion and then the lid, shaping a dome.
Be careful around the hinge area and the handle. You should still have the temporary pins in so they are a reminder of where to keep an eye out.
After the top is domed I round off the corners. The rest of the shaping depends on what I want to express, how I am feeling, what kind of mood I am in or the music I am listening to. (This is one of the few times I have music on.) So, I cant really explain how to shape a box, its personal. I aim to shape in a way that looks natural, an organic flow, like driftwood has. Thats my style though and may not be yours.
Here are some pictures of how the shaping developed on this box.

Then I took a 4” random orbit sander with a 100 grit disc and smoothed it all out.
Here is a picture with just the morning light filtering through a side window. It casts the rest of the box in shadow but really brings out the shaping in the lid.

Notice how I left a ridge of wood at the hinge location.

Next is the finishing.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

29 comments so far

View TomFran's profile


2964 posts in 5281 days

#1 posted 08-11-2009 02:30 PM

That’s a great “problem” to have, Andy!

Wow! Those are some cute grandchildren.

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4074 posts in 5351 days

#2 posted 08-11-2009 03:06 PM

A whole crowd of future box recipients. Pretty good summer job there Andy.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 5226 days

#3 posted 08-11-2009 04:00 PM

Grandkids sure are a distracting bunch, and I can fully understand your inability to resist. Looks like a great bunch of kids, so have fun.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5339 days

#4 posted 08-11-2009 04:29 PM

Hey Andy!

You have a Grand bunch there!

With a bunch like that close by, I’m surprised that you have ANY time for anything else!

Yes, priorities are Priorities! :)

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View majeagle1's profile


1429 posts in 4783 days

#5 posted 08-11-2009 04:35 PM

I don’t really think you have much problem “acting” like a caring grandfather, I think you are a very “proud” grandfather, and rightly so!!!
Cherish all the moments you can…...........

and BTW, great photography ( composition, lighting, etc…. )

Thanks for sharing

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View PineInTheAsh's profile


404 posts in 4555 days

#6 posted 08-11-2009 04:52 PM

With a heavy schedule staring at me I swore I would not post on LJ today. But, Andy, you got me with those beautiful pics. My grandson’s a little too young yet, but I’m looking forward.

Andy, if you took those pictures, you’ve got a wonderful creative touch.

You know, grandfathers are THE man!

I’m sure you enjoy every moment and are bursting with pride.

Now, I forgot, what was that woodworking project you were working on?

All the best,

View Andy's profile


1724 posts in 5195 days

#7 posted 08-11-2009 05:37 PM

Thanks to everyone for the nice comments and for being patient with me finishing this tutorial.

@Tom-Thank you,it is a good problem for sure.
@Douglas-I recently the older girls the Designer boxes I posted here on LJ,just a few weeks ago.
@Russel-Yes,they are distracting, in a good way…usually.haha
@Joe-Thats something we often learn too late in life.
@Gene-Thanks.Its pretty easy really.I am glad you like the photos too.
@Peter-I am honored that these photos moved you to comment.Yes,I did take the pictures,another hobby of mine.Thanks.BTW,your grandson will be in the shop before you know it :-)

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5339 days

#8 posted 08-11-2009 05:43 PM

Andy, just enjoy it while you can… for whatever it takes… :)
You only have ONE chance to do it… so, just Do It… :)

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Karson's profile


35279 posts in 5687 days

#9 posted 08-11-2009 06:06 PM

They will/can keep you busy even when they are not there.

Great looking kids. they must take after your wifes side of the family. LOL.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View RWR's profile


42 posts in 4888 days

#10 posted 08-11-2009 06:17 PM


Great looking grandchildren ,have 5 myself, and great pictures to boot… em as much as you can cause they grow up really fast.

-- Wayne

View gbear's profile


544 posts in 5386 days

#11 posted 08-11-2009 06:39 PM

What a great looking bunch of kids…who could ever pull themself away from those wonderful faces…
Enjoy them while you can Andy the “art boxes” will wait.

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View Bob N's profile

Bob N

131 posts in 5214 days

#12 posted 08-11-2009 06:49 PM

I only have 2 and you see how much time I have to visit here :)

Great looking crew Andy and I know you are 6X as proud as I am.

View Andy's profile


1724 posts in 5195 days

#13 posted 08-11-2009 08:40 PM

Thnk you all.
@Karson-Thats very perceptive of you.haha

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View degoose's profile


7285 posts in 4642 days

#14 posted 08-11-2009 11:51 PM

My grandson is in New Zealand so visits are rare. He is only 6 months or so .. be better a little later when he can annoy me in the workshop LOL

-- Be safe.

View Andy's profile


1724 posts in 5195 days

#15 posted 08-12-2009 12:05 AM

@Degoose-haha,prepare yourself now while you have time.Its a blast.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

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