Ribbon and Bow Box Techniques

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Blog entry by Lenny posted 03-19-2013 03:30 PM 25894 reads 160 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Enough people have asked me how the Bow Boxes I made and posted were crafted that I figured a blog was warranted. My post is here “Bow Box”: I have seen others make the boxes and thought you might like to see different interpretations of them. bigogre has done several. Here is one of his: “Box”: moonls recently posted one with wonderful banding in the ribbons and bow. See it “here”:

The design for my boxes came from the August/September issue of American Woodworker magazine, issue #161. Credit for the design and plans go to Ken Marble. The article refers you to their website where you can download the necessary template for the bows. You have to increase the size of the document until it reaches the called for dimensions. To get the pattern, go “to”: On their home page look on the left for “Web extras for past issues”. Click on it and find issue #161. Click on it and scroll down to “Ribbon and Bow Box”.

Marble uses the French expression, “Trompe l’oeil” to describe the bow. The expression translated is “It fools the eye.” The bow is not bent. It is cut on a scrollsaw. Marble used a three stripe pattern of aromatic cedar and birch for his ribbons and bow. My blog will cover that process. You could very well use one solid color (species) as I did on one of mine or, like moonls, come up with your own design.

First, you need two glue-ups or laminations of three pieces of wood dimensioned at ¼” thick by 2” wide by 10” long. One glue-up will be for the ribbon, the other for the bow. I am unable to do woodworking right now so the stock in the photos is not to dimension.

Three pieces of 1/4” stock dimensioned to size.

After glue-up, it would be 3/4” thick and look like this. Remember, two of these.

Once dry, for the ribbons you joint one edge and then slice 3/16” wide strips on the band saw. I cut them a bit thicker and used my planer to bring them to the 3/16” dimension.

For the bows, here’s the pattern or template.

You cut out the template and using spray adhesive, glue it to the top of the other 3/4” glue-up.

You then proceed to drill holes as necessary and scrollsaw the pattern. When finished the pieces look like this.

Actually, the “arrows” won’t have the points yet. Using another template, you cut those later. Similarly, the middle section of the bow needs to be precisely shaped to fit in its place. Here’s a photo showing those templates.

From here, its just a matter of sanding and gluing the pieces to the box. Here is a sequence of photos.

So that’s how they are made. I’ll be happy to answer any questions.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

25 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4155 days

#1 posted 03-19-2013 03:31 PM

wow lenny excellent blog, this is just great, what a beautiful result…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Napaman's profile


5533 posts in 4929 days

#2 posted 03-19-2013 03:38 PM

I love these…thanks for the details…this is going in my favorites!

Hope all is well…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


19559 posts in 4527 days

#3 posted 03-19-2013 04:07 PM

Thanks Lenny. Great blog.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4427 days

#4 posted 03-19-2013 04:18 PM

Great blog Lenny.
Thanks for sharing this tip.
Yours come out great !

View ken_c's profile


337 posts in 4014 days

#5 posted 03-19-2013 05:04 PM

thanks for the tutorial – nice job

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3995 days

#6 posted 03-19-2013 05:25 PM

Another example of why this is the greatest site on the web! Thanks, Lenny!

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View oakwood's profile


327 posts in 2921 days

#7 posted 03-19-2013 06:17 PM

Thank you Lenny. The blog answers all the questions I had and now I can go ahead when ready. Thank you so much and I’m sure that you might be seeing a few more of these on LJ thanks to your helpfull information. LJ is so great for ideas and info…John

View Rxmpo's profile


270 posts in 4597 days

#8 posted 03-19-2013 07:27 PM

This is what makes Lumberjocks the awesome site that it is! Thanks Lenny!!! Picture is worth a thousand words.

View Woodenwizard's profile


1366 posts in 3895 days

#9 posted 03-19-2013 07:30 PM

Lenny, great blog. I still have the infromation you gave me but haven’t actually tried the box yet. It is still on my to do list.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View Lenny's profile


1674 posts in 4379 days

#10 posted 03-19-2013 11:13 PM

Thanks everyone. I am glad it will be of use to you.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4525 days

#11 posted 03-19-2013 11:51 PM

Neat box, Lenny.

View bladedust's profile


222 posts in 3118 days

#12 posted 03-20-2013 04:08 AM

Very cool Lenny. Going in my favorites to try when I build my skills.

-- ok, is it cut once measure twice, cut twice measure once???? I know....I'll just keep cutting until it's long enough.

View Ken90712's profile


17902 posts in 4040 days

#13 posted 03-20-2013 08:52 AM

Lenny Great work and Blog!! Amazing and so nice of you to share. Great job!!!!!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3656 days

#14 posted 03-20-2013 12:28 PM

Very nicely done, Lenny. Thnx for the how-to

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3888 days

#15 posted 03-20-2013 01:31 PM


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

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