MY "WHAT IF" PROTOTYPE BOX. #1: Lesons taught by my Master Mentor...."Murphy!"

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Blog entry by DocSavage45 posted 04-01-2016 01:57 AM 2471 reads 0 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of MY "WHAT IF" PROTOTYPE BOX. series Part 2: Another Video blog please check it out. »



If you are interested, I’m posting a blog on this box including the steps Murphy guided me through. LOL!

What I’ve learned on Lumberjock’s says that a box is not a box. I’ve seen many wonderful and varied ”Art Boxes” on Lumberjock’s. My original excitement for this art form came from Andy who posted blogs on how to build his type of Art Box. The next inspirational artist is ”thesoutherner,” Greg, who is an exceptional sculptor and innovator. He has been supportive and is provided personal guidance. A lot of credit for this box goes to ”Big Al the Box Guy.” Al has provided an extensive blog for those of us who are building a box for the first time. I also want to give thanks to my Lumberjock’s Buddy Randy, whose avatar is “Blackie.” And Klaus Kiefer’s the innovative use of the table saw in developing boxes

This box prototype is in preparation for a hardwood box to be built formy friend Mark Hillard who wanted a “box for my treasures,” and gave me some parameters to work from. It is to be square and the size a record album. It is also to have a piano hinge rather than a butt hinge which he feels are too flimsy.

I several concepts in mind, but it requires practice to gain knowledge through experience regarding techniques and practices in building a box.

The box that you see is the result of Murphy’s mentoring as well as my imagination and adding different techniques I have observed demonstrated by master craftsman/woodworkers such as Charles Neil.


I’m using construction materials that I have acquired over many years for use “Someday!” And this is that Some Day! I culled some, one x eight pine that can be at least 10 years old or more.

I use my tablesaw Sled with a stop to cut the board into 12 inch sections and then set the saw to 45° to miter the ends.

I used my grizzly bandsaw to cut and arch into the bottom of the sides of the box before assembly to add some interest as well as practice. I probably could’ve used a router but the table that I have for my router would not accommodate a large box.

Cutting slots to the thickness of approximately quarter-inch for the top and the bottom. It required two passes on this one 8 inch saw blade.

Laying out the sides at the miter joints with blue painter’s tape which is supposed to be that easy way to glue the box together. LOL! There is a problem though that Murphy did not tell me about. Even though I kept the mitered boards enclosed in a plastic bag and together, I experienced what Charles Neil had demonstrated regarding tension release in cut wood. The result of the tension release caused distortion in my previous straight wood!

It’s a good thing I bought a lot of F clamps. Some of them were still in the package. When I see a box built on YouTube all that is needed is painters tape! No one-including Murphy told me that “if your wood is not straight, your mitered corners will be flush! I’m glad I bought a lot of extra clamps when Harbor Freight had a sale.

My last project posted was a “BOX SPLINE JIG” which is shown in this picture and I built to facilitate putting splines in the mitered corners with Walnut harvested from my chainsaw milling. ( THERE IS NO WATER OR COFFEE IN THE CUP ON THE SAW…lolo)

:Using my back saw to flush cut the Walnut splines.

This is my ”what if I did that?” Learning experience. I’ve seen Charles Neil plow out wood with his tablesaw before shaping a seat. A board is clamped at an angle across the bed of the tablesaw so that the blade is plowing out wood at the height set, which in this situation is about half the thickness of the board. It Worked!!

Using big Al’s blog, I proceeded to use the tablesaw to cut off the lid of the box. Due to Al’s suggestion about tear out I was successful and will continue to use his technique. I also used Al’s blog to determine the depth of cut and how to apply the piano hinge.

After looking at my planned/imagined top made of Walnut, I decided to go with quarter-inch mahogany that provided a less busy box overall. As you can see the knots and the pattern of the wood as well as the curved shape of the box with feet do not need more visual movement.

Before attempting to make a box I built a 2’ x 4’ Downdraft Table, which I have yet to post. It was necessary for dust control in enclosed environment here in Southern Minnesota in the wintertime. After I figured out how to use it, by reducing the work area, I was able to use my oscillating sander to clean up the box prior to putting a finish on it.

Putting the finish on the old aged pine. I used a sealer and then a couple of coats of waterborne polyurethane.

Thanks for checking this out and if you have yet to build your own box. I’m hoping that my misadventure with Murphy gives you encouragement to create your own Art Box. As always, your comments, criticisms and humor are invited and welcomed.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

23 comments so far

View PhilBello's profile


411 posts in 2573 days

#1 posted 04-01-2016 02:08 AM

Again, a lovely looking piece of furniture Tom, as you say, it’s not just a box! Thanks for sharing.

-- If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain - Steven Wright

View CharlieK's profile


595 posts in 4399 days

#2 posted 04-01-2016 02:11 AM

Nice work, Tom. I recognize those Harbor Freight clamps, but don’t ask me how I know that :)

-- Adjustable Height Workbench Plans

View DocSavage45's profile


8881 posts in 3448 days

#3 posted 04-01-2016 02:13 AM


Thanks for the nice words and for checking it out. Now you can build one? LOL! I’l send Murphy down south.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


8881 posts in 3448 days

#4 posted 04-01-2016 02:16 AM


Thanks! They were on sale! They might be one of the better HF finds? I’m struggling with the finish on my maple and walnut box. Need it to be completed to send pictures with application.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View drewpy's profile


991 posts in 1963 days

#5 posted 04-01-2016 02:19 AM

Great box and nice details in the blog. Thanks for posting the details. You really should wash that mug! :))

-- Drew -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

7122 posts in 3959 days

#6 posted 04-01-2016 02:26 AM

Lot’s of good information here Tom. My clamps look just like yours!

I made a nice cove molding for our fire place mantel using the table saw with the angle board method just like your “what if I did that” set up. Works great just like you said. Now you’ve got me thinking about a down draft table!
Nice work!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View DocSavage45's profile


8881 posts in 3448 days

#7 posted 04-01-2016 02:30 AM


Thanks but that’s years of character not dirt. Or are you talking about my other mug???? LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


8881 posts in 3448 days

#8 posted 04-01-2016 02:32 AM

Tony Thanks.

I will be posting my downdraft table, I wanted to do a vlog on it but it takes more than just thinking about it? LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

7122 posts in 3959 days

#9 posted 04-01-2016 02:41 AM

I need to make you my buddy. Should have done that a long time ago. Now I won’t miss out on a possible down draft blog! LOL!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View htl's profile


4872 posts in 1765 days

#10 posted 04-01-2016 03:05 AM

Really nice how to!
Blue painters tape LOL
I never have figured out how that works the stuff won’t stick to itself hardly.
Tried to use it when I made my wood cyclone and thought the better of it and used some of that aluminium tape like they use for duck work[just happened to have some on a shelf], really sticky stuff didn’t have to worry about it coming apart even when I had a problem.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View Greg the Cajun Wood Artist's profile

Greg the Cajun Wood Artist

492 posts in 1548 days

#11 posted 04-01-2016 03:27 AM

You’re on a roll now Tom…another box master is on the scene. There is no doubt your customer will love this box.
I tried the blue tape stuff one time…and that was also a joke for me… Miters that are tight fitting need more pressure that the tape can provide. I use picture framing clamps for gluing by boxes and have yet to find anything better.

-- Wood for projects is like a good Fart..."better when you cut it yourself" Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does

View DocSavage45's profile


8881 posts in 3448 days

#12 posted 04-01-2016 03:27 AM


Painters tape works if everything is square and true, but make sure you have your clamps for a back up. Thanks for checking it out!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


8881 posts in 3448 days

#13 posted 04-01-2016 03:29 AM


I’ll keep you in mind! Maybe I will just do a blog and project post.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


8881 posts in 3448 days

#14 posted 04-01-2016 03:32 AM


Thanks for checking it out. I have some corner clamps with straps, but I didn’t figure on the tension in the old wood. Harbor Freight clamps to the rescue.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2696 posts in 1669 days

#15 posted 04-01-2016 06:35 AM

That’s great, Tom. About the tape: On the rare occasion that I do a segmented turning, that’s the way I glue rings together. But not with blue tape. Masking tape or nylon packing tape is much stronger. With a small box that’s only, say, a few inches deep, you’ll get by with rolling the sides up in tape. Anything deeper than that will, of course, warp, due to tension release. If you’re more patient than I, and you can do like the pros do it, you’ll let the parts rest for several days before assembly, then plane them flat, then miter them, then assemble them.
On the table saw cove cutting: A little unnerving, at first, huh? But, oh, the wonderfulness that ensues. I haven’t done much of that. But, when I did, I was amazed at the goings-on, once I grew accustomed to the sensation of pushing something across the table saw at an angle. There are charts and tables available online that allow you to gain unimaginable precision in the depth of cut, width of cove, and such. As I recall, you input the desired depth and width of the cove, and it spits out the blade tilt and fence trajectory. Yeah. That’s how deep I went with it the first time I tried it. It was that scary. I felt like I needed some special education.
Speaking of precision: When you get around to making a lift-lid box, be sure to look into how to go about making the cuts on the insides of the walls such that, when you split the box, voila!, you have a perfectly-fitted lid, complete with rabbet and rebate. With a little easing here and there, it can also be done for a hinged lid.
So many words. I need a nap.

-- Mark

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