Box designing with poetry

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Blog entry by Edward83 posted 08-07-2010 06:49 AM 1237 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

One thing I love about building is design. When I was a carpenter I was limited to building code and specifications and so on. I find that when it comes to designing boxes I am more free from the standards and can let the creativity flow. Now though I do have a book of boxes drawn out that I would like to build there are still boxes I find myself building with no set plans, something built from just an idea. Sometimes these planless boxes don’t come out half bad, other times they wind up as nothing but a learning lesson on what not to do.

I am old fashioned so when I do make plans I still hand draw them. I am still learning CAD and sketchup (but I am still more just into plain old hand drawing with a pencil, ruler and graph paper.)

Honestly most of what I design starts off as poetry (I also like to write) But lately when a line for a poem comes into my head I am presented with a choice, Do I want to write that out or build it up? If I were to build it what would it look like? This is the case with a recent project I posted that started with the line “Under a maple moon” the next part that I didn’t post was “She sleeps on top of the city silhouette” Here were two things I wanted to portray in a box, a nighttime sky and a sleepy city. My first instinct was to go with purple heart for the night time sky, not nessacerily for the city silhouette but that is what worked out for me.

What wood would be best for the project is always my first descision I make. I like to use contrasting woods for a lot of the boxes I design but it’s not a rule, some woods can stand alone and be the epitimy of beauty and form

The next thing I decide is whether I want to box to be square or rectangular, tall or short. This I most often decide by the grain of the wood I am working with. I look around what I have to find what I like and what I think would look best. when I find the piece I like it is usually a toss up on what will be the front and what will be the top.

The next step I decide on how the top will be. Will it be a free floating top, if so will it have a pull or nothing. Will it be hinged? What kind of hinges? Will it slide? How will I get it to slide? Will the top be fixed? I consider these things with majority of the boxes I make. (unless the initial idea has already decided for me)

After the top is firm in my mind. I like to decide the joints of the corners. Miters are my favorite. ocassionally with splines, depending on the rest of the box. Box joints are my least favorite but I still do it on certain boxes to get an effect I may be desiring. If there are movable parts (aside from hinges) on the box I use box joints for there stability and maximum glueable surface.

Next I consider legs. It is actually rare instances that I put legs on a box but I have seen some very incredible ideas for legs on this site that have inspired me to do a few. I usually feel legs add a bit of awkwardness, not an uncomfortable one, but like if someone else is standing then maybe I should be too. The added lift to the box does however add presence in my opinion.

Interior is always a consideration on my designing. I do like to line jewelry boxes with velvet to match the wood. This I rarely do with keepsake boxes because of the added time and cost. It does add to the beauty though. Trays are also an option I toy with, I don’t like to make them for every box because I don’t feel as though every box has to have all the same nuances as the last. when I do design trays the rule is to keep it simple. box joints. maybe a divider. maybe a handle.

The last and most important part I feel to designing a nice box are the accents. shaping, inlay, etc. This is usually where the poetry comes in and is usually decided before I do design the rest of the box, but this is when it is solidified. The current box I am working on is for my ten year old sister. The line that entered my mind was “Canary pox on a purple box” and is canary spots on purple heart. I knew I wanted something cartooney and childish, I hashed out all the regualr detailes, and then decided on the spots. I had several ideas that came and went with this box, but wound up going with my first inclination. I will be posting pics of it in a few days when the purple heart turns purple again. I found myself designing it when I was actually out of town and nowhere near my notebook. But when it comes to poetry in box form, it tends to be easier to remember.

-- Praise God in all things, especially the bad things because they make the best learning experiences.

3 comments so far

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 4375 days

#1 posted 08-07-2010 04:42 PM

So true. That’s the thing about creativity. Those who don’t have it, just don’t ‘get it’.

It’s been my experience that the creative ones walk through life misunderstood by the overly organized ‘can’t-think-out-of-the-box’ types.

“It must”, or “It could”? is the difference.

I’m creative at the expense of being organized….

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4531 days

#2 posted 08-07-2010 07:21 PM

You have got a good method that flows for you. This is one of the most important things, for me, in design. That and the initial inspiration, external or internal.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Edward83's profile


161 posts in 4391 days

#3 posted 08-07-2010 08:03 PM

Ron, i would sacrifice organization for creativity any day of the week. I think worrying about the exact placement of everything on your pegboard is a waste of time. While I do like my shop to be clean it doesn’t have to be immaculate. I have known a few people that spend more time organizing their stuff than actually ripping any wood. It’s like the kid that doesn’t play with his toys, he just owns them, you want to teach him how to play but he’d rather just look at them neatly stacked. I never understood it.

-- Praise God in all things, especially the bad things because they make the best learning experiences.

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