Shaker Weave Box

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Project by tpastore posted 03-28-2008 02:21 PM 12262 views 98 times favorited 32 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Dimensions: 6 ¾” x 10 15/16” x 4.5”
Materials: Cherry, Brass
Finish: Boiled Linseed Oil
Interior: Two removable trays, each with 4 sections
Top: Basket weave
Hinges: Cherry
Inspirations: Shaker, Fibonacci

The design of the box and materials were inspired by the simplicity of traditional Shaker furniture and boxes. The wooden hinges and clean lines reflect this influence.

The hidden influence used in this design is a mathematical formula known as the Golden Mean or Fibonacci Numbers. This formula quite literally is the math behind the art. Leonardo of Pisa (aka Fibonacci) was an Italian mathematician back in the 1200s. He developed a sequence of numbers that are found to occur in nature in an almost eerie frequency. The sequence is simple, add the two previous number to get the next number. Here is an example:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233…

0 + 1 = 1
1 + 1 = 2
1 + 2 = 3
3 + 2 = 5
3 + 5 = 8

Why is this important? Nature has found that in many cases the most efficient configurations or forms are consistent with these numbers. So what does this have to do with design and art? Our brains tend to find things designed around the ratios of these numbers to be pleasing, therefore, artists for centuries have intentionally designed paintings, buildings, music, and other art forms around these ratios. A quick example is in photography. Have you ever heard of the “rule of thirds”? This “rule” states that you should try to set up your subjects, horizons, and other focal points along a set of imaginary lines in the picture. The lines divide the picture in thirds vertically and horizontally. The reason, because a perfectly centered subject is not as pleasing to the eye as one that is slightly off center. A picture may help here:

The picture is divided into 9 rectangles. The camera is positioned to have major objects along the imaginary lines. Again this rule is in place to help make the image more pleasing to the eye. So, how do we get from the Fibonacci string to rule of thirds and then to a basket top box? The picture below is a rectangle that has squares in it that are the numbers in the sequence above 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8. The entire rectangle is 8 units x 13 units (13 is the next number in the sequence). The dividing line between the 8 square and the rest of the squares is dividing the entire 8×13 rectangle into 1/3rd and 2/3rds.

So now we are starting to connect nature to math. You can see the nautilus shell has the same spiral pattern as the Fibonacci squares. You will see the same thing in many flowers, pine cones, ferns, shells, claws, etc in nature.
Now, lets discuss the connection to the box and design in general. Lets start with the inner trays. You will notice that they are similar to the picture above with the progressively smaller boxes. In this design the smaller 1, 1, boxes were omitted because they would be too small to be functional. Next lets look at the overall size of the box. The Fibonacci ratio is 1.618. This is the average of the change from one number in the sequence to the other. For example, the diagram above was 8 units x 13 units. If we take 8 and multiply it by 1.618 we get 12.944 or approximately 13. The wood box dimensions are 6.75” x 10.94”. If we take 6.75” and multiply it by 1.618 we get 10.92”. So the box is close to a perfect “Golden Rectangle”

Lastly, let’s look at the basket weave. The frame around the top is 1” wide. Lets change that 1” to quantity (8) 1/8ths of an inch. In keeping with the Fibonacci sequence, we want to use things that are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13… In this case, the strips of veneer in the basket are 2/8”, 3/8”, 5/8”, and the frame is 8/8”. The vertical strips are all 5/8” wide. The horizontal pattern is:

Hopefully, this explanation above was helpful. The subject matter is a difficult one to explain without going too technical. Below are some additional links to look at that help with the explanation. A search for Fibonacci, Golden mean, Golden ratio, or Phi, will all result in a long list of information. The last link is a basket weaver that uses Fibonacci in her baskets and even has a book out on the subject.

32 comments so far

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4249 days

#1 posted 03-28-2008 02:38 PM

That’s a really beautiful box. Great craftsmanship. I love those wood hinges and the woven top. I like to use the Golden ratio in my designs. Thanks for all the extra info that I didn’t know. Good post.

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4679 days

#2 posted 03-28-2008 02:48 PM

Ok, that’s a really cool lid design. Your design follow-through (i.e. the actual construction of said lid) was really on par, too. (No need to mention the tight miters and great hinge construction, is there?)

The whole package is very toit (toit like a tiger!).

But how did you get the box to FLOAT like that??

-- Ethan,

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 4496 days

#3 posted 03-28-2008 03:06 PM

I’ve seen many boxes here on LJ but this one is a real standout, love the basketweave. Thanks for sharing.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View NDwoodworker's profile


48 posts in 4239 days

#4 posted 03-28-2008 03:16 PM

The box is great, wood hinges are something that I need to try. Way to go with the Golden Mean, it’s a grest story behind the box.

-- Stuart, North Dakota

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4327 days

#5 posted 03-28-2008 03:22 PM

This is a gorgeous box. I am a fan of anything made from cherry. I love the wooden hinges as well.

thanks for sharing.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4723 days

#6 posted 03-28-2008 03:33 PM

Great box and fascinating lesson.

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

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4493 days

#7 posted 03-28-2008 03:44 PM

Great box. The top and hinges are really great.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4502 days

#8 posted 03-28-2008 04:09 PM

Great looking box -

Does it have some sort of foot or base, or did you prop it up for the picture?

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Ad Marketing Guy - Bill's profile

Ad Marketing Guy - Bill

314 posts in 4303 days

#9 posted 03-28-2008 04:18 PM

FANtastic Box- unique hinge design and the weave top is outstanding – excellent post very informative with a great project!

-- Bill - - Ad-Marketing Guy, Ramsey NJ

View davidtheboxmaker's profile


373 posts in 4310 days

#10 posted 03-28-2008 04:57 PM

Really nice box, well proportioned (as you intended) and a very pleasant colour and finish.

View Hawgnutz's profile


526 posts in 4581 days

#11 posted 03-28-2008 05:15 PM

Great looking box and excellent comments on the golden ratio! Does it have hidden keys in the miters for extra strength?

God Bless,

-- Saving barnwood from the scrapyards

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4379 days

#12 posted 03-28-2008 06:02 PM

That is just nice on so many levels. Thanks for the math tutorial, too.

View Bradford's profile


1434 posts in 4328 days

#13 posted 03-28-2008 06:33 PM

Thanks for this info and great box work. Very useful and appreciated.

-- so much wood, so little time. Bradford. Wood-a-holics unanimous president

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 4247 days

#14 posted 03-28-2008 07:44 PM

Very nice. Can we get as detailed an explanation on how to prepare, weave and finish the top now?
Thanks for sharing this very cool box.

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View sharad's profile


1118 posts in 4309 days

#15 posted 03-28-2008 07:48 PM

Everything about the box is class by itself but the mathematical explaination dominates the show. Fantastic.
We will now look at objects with a different angle.

-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

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