Dilemma Over - Decision Made

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Project by Don posted 07-23-2007 08:53 AM 7541 views 2 times favorited 36 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve made up my mind.

Although I like the Mallet I made with glueless joinery, I think I like the small box more. After all, I can’t claim to be a lover of small wooden boxes without being prepared to be evaluated as a box maker.

In theory, I could disassemble this box quite easily. The only thing that holds it together is the bamboo pins that are snuggly pressed into holes. Nothing is wedged because as I quickly discovered with my first attempt, the wall strength of 5/16” wood does not accommodate joinery under excess tension – it simply splits.

The dimensions of the box are: 8 5/8 wide x 5 1/2 deep x 2 3/4 high.

So I came up with the method described here to hold the box together. The pins won’t fall out of their own accord. I would have to pull them out in some way, because there is enough surface tension to hold them in place. I played with the idea of a “Pagoda” type lid handle, but a) I didn’t like the look, b) I wasn’t sure I could design a joint that would hold and c) the natural way to open the box is by the “tabs” at the front of the lid.

Finally, I’ve finished the box with three coats of Danish Oil and three coats of sprayed lacquer on top of a single coat of Tung Oil. The two pictures above were taken with artificial room light and have distorted the color slightly. Although their appears to be a sheen on some surfaces, I’ve actually rubbed out the finish to give it a slightly flat but deeper finish.

Late Change: Karson stated the following here ”No one has asked, but I’ll bring it up. In my mind no plywood, because that is glued. The constructor of the project might not have glued it but it is a joint and it does have glue.

I don’t want to be a stickler about this, but, I think that is what the description of the contest states.

So that means no veneered projects either, in my mind.”

I panicked a little; the base of my box was birch ply.

I must confess, that the idea that plywood was a raw material that had been laminated, hence glued, had never dawned on me, and at first I thought it was being a little pedantic. But as I lay awake in bed last night it suddenly dawned on my that this was one of the hidden benefits of my style of glueless joinery. My retainer pins for the bottom panel were held there by the tightness of the fit. But with a pair of pliers, they could easily be extracted, which is what I did. Voilà! I simply replaced my ply base panel with a 4mm piece of solid Tasmanian Myrtle.

The third picture shows the new solid wood panel. I’m not changing the center picture, because it helps to verify I’ve done so because of the difference in color between the Birch ply (center pic) and the Tasmanian Myrtle (last pic).

I made the solid panel slightly smaller than the ply panel to accommodate expansion. Being a floating bottom, the base will exert no pressure against the walls of the box.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

36 comments so far

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4074 posts in 5525 days

#1 posted 07-23-2007 09:24 AM

Good choice, Oh lover of small wooden boxes. But I am glad you shared the mallet with the foxed tenons, as I have never seen that style of joinery before. Although I have done some garden projects, and they see the light of day everyday, they will likely not be seen through the light of a monitor screen. Maybe the next challenge.

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

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6883 posts in 5441 days

#2 posted 07-23-2007 10:37 AM

Hello Don;

Don’t you hate it when you have to chose. It’s like getting married all over again. LOL

Nice choice.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View TonyWard's profile


748 posts in 5790 days

#3 posted 07-23-2007 11:57 AM


I think the box has a better chance than the mallet! Well done.


View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5622 days

#4 posted 07-23-2007 12:23 PM

(Lee: I’m sure there is a story behind those words!!)

The box is lovely – I especially like how you made the lid mimic the side pieces, tying it all together.

Nicely done and I guess a lover of small boxes should enter a small box into the challenge. :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View john's profile


2389 posts in 5843 days

#5 posted 07-23-2007 01:20 PM

Nice work once again Don.
The corners kind of remind me of my birdhouses but then again everything reminds me of birdhouses. lol

View Karson's profile


35300 posts in 5862 days

#6 posted 07-23-2007 02:00 PM

Don Great little Box. Good choice.

-- 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 Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5424 days

#7 posted 07-23-2007 02:03 PM

a very unique approach. nice work. I especially like the look of the corners. great grain. thanks for the nice comments on my projects

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View TomFran's profile


2964 posts in 5456 days

#8 posted 07-23-2007 03:00 PM

”Although I like the Mallet I made with glueless joinery, I think I like the small box more. After all, I can’t claim to be a lover of small wooden boxes without being repaired to be evaluated as a box maker.” - Don

Don, I agree with this logic. You have established yourself as a “lover of small wooden boxes” and in order to maintain consistency with this motto, you must stay with your choice of this “small wooden box.” ;^D

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

View 's profile

593 posts in 5434 days

#9 posted 07-23-2007 03:24 PM

Interesting design Don, I like the choice of the bamboo pins taking the place of the glue and the protruding fingers. It’s certainly a change from the machined fingerjoints that sport the indonesian-made little boxes that flood the market nowadays.

Pardon my ignorance but what exactly is a ’”Pagoda” type lid handle’. I can’t really visualize it… and it’s not that I don’t have any real scale pagodas to look at nearby! Now that I think there’s one of many down the street, half a mile away. :o)

I do agree with Tony and the rest: this is a better choice for a joinery challenge.

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5639 days

#10 posted 07-23-2007 03:40 PM

Jojo, perhaps using the term Pagoda was overstating my idea. I spent an hour shaping a piece of Ebony as a handle or knob, shaped with upcurved ends similar to the look of the roof-line of a Pagoda. My research indicated that most Pagoda roofs have more than one layer with the layers on top being smaller than the ones under them. Also, most appear to culminate in a small spire of some kind.

I came up with a shape that looked OK, but with the following problems.

My design difficulty, is that a lid is normally lifted from the edge opposite the hinge. This would dictate that the Pagoda-shaped knob be no more that 1/3 the distance from the front to the hinge, but preferably closer to the front edge. However, this flies in the face of the symmetrical nature of the Pagoda. Placing it anywhere but dead centre looked strange.

Also, a spire shape just doesn’t work well on a knob. And even if it did look OK, I wasn’t sure that I could come up with a glueless joinery idea that would both work and look right.

Hence I abandoned the concept.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 5623 days

#11 posted 07-23-2007 04:08 PM

Bravo Don. I think you made the right choice. This box looks even better now with the finish.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 5772 days

#12 posted 07-23-2007 04:19 PM

I was unable to see your mallet, but I believe that your box is exceptionally well done and very interesting in its design and joinery. Congratulations!

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1823 posts in 5548 days

#13 posted 07-23-2007 04:46 PM

Good choice Don. I really like this box.

Good choice on not using the pagoda handle. It looks good on a lift top box, but a hinged box would make it look odd.

Good luck.

-- Bob

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5498 days

#14 posted 07-23-2007 05:10 PM

Don, great box! Thanks for blogging it as well. I love a wooden box. I just have to bring myself to start makin them. I have all kinds of wood devoted to the box. I just haven’t pulled the trigger. I better get on it!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Lboy's profile


199 posts in 5543 days

#15 posted 07-23-2007 05:14 PM

Looks great Don!

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