Spirograph box

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Project by DHS posted 11-15-2018 04:45 AM 1278 views 3 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a gift box for the 60th birthday of a friend. My wife purchased a vase to put inside the gift box. I made the box from walnut. I dovetailed the sides and then added little feet that stick out. Those feet were probably the most complicated parts of the project. The lid was inspired by a game called spirograph that I remember playing as a kid. The game came with little gears that you stuck a pen into and then made different circular designs. To make this design, I built a plastic piece with eight trammel points and I secured it to the lid using double-sided tape. I then cut eight circles, one for each trammel point. I cut the circles using a radius cutter that I reverse engineered using a photo from the Lie Nielsen web site. After cutting a circle, I filled the groove with holly stringing, let the glue dry, leveled the surface with a scraper, and then cut the next circle. I then leveled the entire lid with a smoothing plane. I finished the box using shellac and paste wax.

Our friend let us know how much she liked the vase. (But she liked the box more.)

-- Dave S., Bellingham, WA

12 comments so far

View Peteybadboy's profile


2018 posts in 2752 days

#1 posted 11-15-2018 10:59 AM

I too remember the game. That is a great idea for a box lid. I must try string inlay. You did a beautiful job on that! p.s. the feet are a cool idea.

-- Petey

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4589 posts in 2425 days

#2 posted 11-15-2018 11:09 AM

The lid, the box itself or those absolute feet, it’s really a serious toss up as to which is an outstanding display of craftsmanship so I guess I vote all three !!

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View mikeacg's profile


1603 posts in 1860 days

#3 posted 11-15-2018 01:10 PM

I remember the Spirograph as well but I don’t ever remember thinking, “Gee, that would make a great woodworking tool!” Clever idea and well executed to boot! Thanks for sharing!

-- Mike, A Yooper with a drawl,

View Tooch's profile


2013 posts in 2679 days

#4 posted 11-15-2018 01:58 PM

wow that’s a really cool lid! the mix of light/dark colors makes it really stand out.

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

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5321 posts in 3774 days

#5 posted 11-15-2018 02:25 PM

Wow! nicely done.

-- Galootish log blog,

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5534 posts in 3932 days

#6 posted 11-15-2018 02:39 PM

Very nice!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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7648 posts in 1515 days

#7 posted 11-15-2018 03:14 PM

not sure if I like the top or the feet more but can guarantee its better then the vase LOL GREAT JOB :<))

I can remember spirograph with 4 color bic pen

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View oldnovice's profile (online now)


7594 posts in 4170 days

#8 posted 11-15-2018 08:24 PM

Great job!
Looks like the top had you going in circles more than the feet!

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4142 posts in 3911 days

#9 posted 11-15-2018 09:08 PM

That is really cool! What an interesting way to machine for stringing! Top 3 for good reason.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

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6553 posts in 3069 days

#10 posted 11-15-2018 10:09 PM

Very nice indeed!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

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774 posts in 1311 days

#11 posted 11-17-2018 05:22 PM

What an interesting piece, so creative. I’ve never heard of stringing, I’ll have to look that one up. Also I’d love to know how you made those feet. I have looked at them, but just can’t get my head around how you accomplished that. Congrats on a well deserved DT3.

-- John D, OP, KS

View DHS's profile


140 posts in 4027 days

#12 posted 11-17-2018 06:56 PM


Holly stringing: You make it by ripping thin strips from a piece of holly and you can then cut them into string with a knife and straight edge. Or, you can use a cutting tool and a jig (which is what I did). Use a block plane or other tool until the thickness of the stringing matches the groove you’ve cut for it. Heat the holly string, bend it to shape, and glue it into the groove.

Feet: I wish I had taken photos of the foot-making process, but I did not. So I’ll try to explain it w/o pictures.

Step 1: Rout the edge of a long workpiece with a panel bit. Imagine the edge of a raised panel that you would set into a door frame. The thinnest part of the edge of the workpiece will become the top of the foot.

Step 2: Rip off the routed edge, turn it around, and glue the narrow part back onto the workpiece. Now the bottom of the foot is where the top of the foot had been. By doing this, the piece that will become the foot will be supported by the rest of the workpiece before the next step…

Step 3: Shape the feet using a template and bearing-guided router bit. The feet are part of an apron that wraps around the bottom of the box and, once properly oriented, the feet stick out from it. Because the piece that will become the apron with feet is glued to the rest of the workpiece the bottom of the apron and the feet can be shaped on a router table. Use a template and bearing-guided bit to shape the inside portion of the feet and the bottom of the apron that stretches between the feet.

Step 4: Rip the apron+feet off the rest of the workpiece using the tablesaw with the blade at ~5 degree angle. That way the top of the apron will be angled a bit.

Step 5: Cut a rabbet along the top of the aprons on the inside of what will become a rectangle and then miter the corners where the feet stick out. The aprons form a rectangle and the rest of the box fits into the rabbeted portion of the aprons. Glue and clamp it all together.

I have no idea if that makes sense. But, you asked for it…

-- Dave S., Bellingham, WA

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