Wonky pine box

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Project by scottb posted 07-01-2010 03:44 AM 2929 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When life gives you wonky wood…. you can cut it down into usable pieces, plane it to veneer to get it flat or toss it on the burn pile… OR you can use is exactly as is!

I don’t know where the inspiration came from, but it occurred to me to grab these wide cupped boards, and to use them, highlighting the curves they had. Squaring them to the bottom, they curved up and outward nicely. And as luck would have it, I had just the piece, with only the slightest twist to it, that was exactly the right size for the top. All reclaimed or salvaged wood – no glue ups! – all wide pieces of knotty pine with a former life in some project or another. Or rejects thereof.

I also had the idea (and crazy ambition) to handcut dovetails on the outward curving pieces – all four sized curve up and out by the way. The sides are NOT flat. So, I measured the pieces and sized them perfectly to dovetail together under a single board for the top.

I traced the shorter side pieces to match the curve of the front and back pieces and cut/sanded/filed and sanded (and sanded) to get the fit right, and tight. (Only had to sand the top of the box sides in the end to fine tune the fit of the lid.

Then I thought better of my ridiculous first stab at hand-cut dovetails. Yes I AM a lumberjock, but… lets start at level 3 or 4, not 11.

So I glued up, screwed, plugged and sanded the box some more.

Oh, yeah, the top doesn’t fit. The box was supposed to be smaller by the thickness of the walls. Ooops.

Hmm. Think, think, think.

I know, I’ll cut a curve into the top and splice in a filler piece. Ambitious? Yes. But it’ll look like a feature, an intentional design element, not a fix.

Search for the right wood. (Put off fixing the cheap bandsaw) Think. Rethink….


entertain other simple notions. Search for more wood to glue together. No I am NOT buying wood for this warped box, even though I don’t seem to have the right piece for the top.

(months pass)

What I started last summer at the old house, in my old shop, FINALLY was one of the first projects to roll out of the new shop.

I looked at a two piece top. A thin stationary strip with a piano hinge, but didn’t like the look of it. This is supposed to be a small trunk/toybox at the foot of my daughters bed, and any amount of obstruction of the top is too much… Plus, I like how the angle of the back allows you to open the top past 90 degrees, yet still provide a positive stop to keep it from falling open all the way without needing a chain or specialty hardware.

In the end, I glued up a top panel from two fairly well matched, reclaimed pine stair treads. The treads were quite beat up, but an afternoon of sanding, raising the grain and more sanding got things nice and smooth. On the underside of the lid you can still make out the faded portion where the tread rested on the stringers. Funny the discoloration from time and light on the underside of a stair tread in the basement!

Incidentally, I’d previously resawn another of these treads to make this box :
Click for details

Overall, the box is roughly 12” x 12” x 30” The box is finished with Howards Orange Oil and Beeswax, and the lid with Shellac. Already looking antique, but full of toys and what not, in the little ones room, no longer taking up valuable shop space!!!!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

10 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4659 days

#1 posted 07-01-2010 03:48 AM

View Gary's profile


9419 posts in 4514 days

#2 posted 07-01-2010 04:14 AM

Neat idea. I like that

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Skylark53's profile


2863 posts in 4142 days

#3 posted 07-01-2010 04:58 AM

You made it work! Way to hang in there. That story will be even more meaningful with time.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View sedcokid's profile


2738 posts in 4680 days

#4 posted 07-01-2010 01:31 PM

Looks like you had fun making the Box!!

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View Karson's profile


35273 posts in 5482 days

#5 posted 07-01-2010 02:52 PM


A great box and nice use of reclaimed materials.

-- 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 RobS's profile


1334 posts in 5388 days

#6 posted 07-01-2010 04:49 PM

Super savy save.

Would you ever consider putting a piece of white board or chalk board paint on the underside of the lid? I’ve seen a lot of toy boxes end up with writing/scribbling on them and that big blank space looks tempting even to me, just as soon as I find my Crayon’s in the bottom of that box…. :)

Or maybe even better… a low profile frame that you could slide poster board into, that way the doodling can change with the times… hmmmm…

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 4407 days

#7 posted 07-01-2010 06:50 PM

Very good idea. I am sure you were inspired at the thought of having to burn wood.

View spclPatrolGroup's profile


233 posts in 3976 days

#8 posted 07-01-2010 08:02 PM

As a fellow cheapskate I enjoyed your post, I have so much odd shaped wood, in every dimension you can think of, I cant bring my self to get rid of it. Sooner or later my insurance agent will get wind of the worlds largest kindling collection and make me do away with it due to the fire hazard. There is a purpose for every thing, dont blame me if I cant think of it.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 4079 days

#9 posted 07-02-2010 02:38 AM

True artistry: Turning a flaw into a feature. Looks really nice.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14189 posts in 5064 days

#10 posted 07-02-2010 05:15 AM

well done Buddy

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

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