It's a Box! Finally

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Project by Mary Anne posted 02-22-2010 05:04 AM 2617 views 1 time favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been wanting to make a box since the first day I discovered Lumberjocks and oohed and ahhhed over the many amazing and beautiful boxes posted here. I was inspired and a little bit intimidated by your skills. I made several false starts out of scrap cedar T&G from the room addition I am working on. They all landed in the fireplace and helped keep me warm this winter.

The only thing to do was take out some of my “good wood” that I’ve been hoarding and throw myself in the deep end and see what happened. This is the result I ended up with today. It is bloodwood with a curly maple top and hard maple splines. I’m pretty proud of it. It doesn’t look too bad for a first go. Still, it is a good thing I am sentimental about my “firsts” and will be keeping it for myself. There are too many flaws (lessons learned) to even think of giving it away.

The most difficult thing (or most obvious flaw), once I got going, was the hinges. I used Doug Stowe’s foolproof method. I guess this proves I am not a fool because I sure did make a mess of those mortises! Everything worked great every time I tried it on scrap pieces, but when it came to the real thing, everything went wrong. Twice! The bottom isn’t bad, but my stop block moved when I did the top the first time. I cleverly took the top back to the table saw and trimmed it so I could give it another shot. I cranked the clamps tight on the stop blocks and was prepared for perfection, but the shop gremlins loosened the fence on my router table while my back was turned. There is no more room for trimming it back again so I’ll get to live with the reminder. By the way, any suggestions how to remove tiny brass screws that have broken off?

Oh, don’t even ask about the finish… I had to sand it off three times before I was happy with the end result. The maple used to have a nice little chamfer. I tried a different finish each time. Sanding and finishing flat work is much more difficult than having a spinning lathe do most of the work. I do love the chatoyance in both woods, though, especially the bloodwood.

Any tips or suggestions for improvements on my next one(s) are welcomed and appreciated. Be gentle, it’s my first time. ;)


20 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5374 days

#1 posted 02-22-2010 05:17 AM

An excellent first box, May Anne! I wish mine had looked half as good. (But then I didn’t have Lumberjocks as a resource.) :-)

It sounds like you learned a lot. I think trial and error is the best teacher. About the only suggestion I’d offer is that in a box this size, you’d generally want to use a slightly thinner stock to keep everything more proportional. Of course, if you are using the wood you have on hand, and you don’t have a planer, your options are limited.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4497 days

#2 posted 02-22-2010 05:25 AM

very nice ,

and congratulations !

not all of my scrap is cut offs ,

much is failed projects .

there is no standard ,
every country in the world ,
makes boxes , the variations are endless .

this is a nice one ,

happy present to you !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View donjoe's profile


1360 posts in 4186 days

#3 posted 02-22-2010 05:29 AM

A very nice box. If this is number one I am very impressed.

-- Donnie-- listen to the wood.

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4364 days

#4 posted 02-22-2010 05:45 AM

Thanks for the encouragement, guys!

Well, it started out bigger, but some other lessons learned made it shrink. I also chickened out on planing it any thinner. Next time.

Thank you. Giving myself a present is a very nice way of looking at it.

View woodworm's profile


14477 posts in 4746 days

#5 posted 02-22-2010 06:46 AM

Beautiful box very nicely done. Great work!

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4464 days

#6 posted 02-22-2010 06:52 AM

For a first box it sure looks nice to me. I was just telling my wife that I want to start making some boxes. I tend to build large projects that consume time and a lot of lumber. I have accumulated a lot of… what I call scraps … and they could most certainly be used for smaller projects.

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 5146 days

#7 posted 02-22-2010 06:59 AM

Never met a box I didn’t like Mary Anne so don’t be too sure someone wouldn’t just love to have this one. My suggestions are to use smaller, shorter?, hinges next time and try to get the thickest guage you can afford. I’ve found that the very thin stuff is very hard to fit just right but the thicker stuff can sometimes cost more than the wood. I love bloodwood and it just goes great with maple. I love the proportions because I think a box should be built to last. As for drilling out small brass screws, the only way I’ve found is to take a super small drill bit and surroung the screw with holes. Eventually you’ll be able to push the screw into one of the holes and grab it with some tweezers or small needle nose pliars. I hope you kept some bloodwood scraps to push into the resulting hole with some glue? My repairs are sturdy and hidden by the hinges usually. Anyway, good work on the box and hope to see more of them.

-- Jim

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4733 days

#8 posted 02-22-2010 07:07 AM

Looks good from here ,one suggestion If you take the racoon off you head you could see better LOL.


View Don's profile


517 posts in 4228 days

#9 posted 02-22-2010 10:23 AM

I think it’s a great looking box. My recommendation would be to try some woods that are a little easier to work with. Bloodwood is a really hard and difficult wood.

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View littlecope's profile


3130 posts in 4658 days

#10 posted 02-22-2010 11:45 AM

Great First Effort, Mary Anne!! Hold on to that one! It’ll be fun to compare it in a few years to what you will be producing then…
Beware the Box Addiction though!! :)

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 4451 days

#11 posted 02-22-2010 12:26 PM

I have had those darn tiny brass screws break off too. Luckily I could grab the remaining post with my jewelers pliers and unscrew. When putting them in, I push the screws threads into beeswax, and in predrilled hole advance a couple threads , turn out, advance a bit further back out a bit. Works to prevent break off.

Wonderful first. Looks Great !!


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View Triumph1's profile


937 posts in 4235 days

#12 posted 02-22-2010 02:26 PM

This is nice even if it was a third box. Using bloodwood I am guessing it has a nice “solid” feel to it.

Ahh the brass screws. I have also had them snap off on me. I use Dustbunny’s approach. I push them in wax and then screw them in. I actually buy steel screws and “chase” the threads with those first. Seems to really help the brass go in with no problem. If you have one broken off I have heard good things on Wood Screw Extractors.

They drill “around” the broken screw and leave a hole that is the size of a common dowel. You just glue a dowel in the hole and start over.

Great job and let the box making addiction start!!

-- Jeff , Wisconsin Please...can I stay in the basement a little longer, please!

View webwood's profile


626 posts in 4406 days

#13 posted 02-22-2010 03:18 PM

great work – that tiny hardware takes some getting used to

-- -erik & christy-

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4364 days

#14 posted 02-22-2010 04:43 PM

Thank you all for the comments and great tips! I’m looking forward to my next box with a lot more confidence.

Now that I have completed my first box, I feel half the way to being a true lumberjock—I’ll be starting that first cutting board today. LOL

View Loucarb's profile


2388 posts in 4601 days

#15 posted 02-22-2010 05:27 PM

Very nice box. Nice wood combination & the design. This one came out awesome just think what your future ones will look like.

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