Boxguy Gets Penciled In

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Project by Boxguy posted 06-27-2012 04:30 AM 4731 views 33 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Background and Materials: When I was a kid someone in the family gave me a pencil box imported from India. It was designed something like this one and I liked having it. So I thought I’d make one to hold my drafting supplies pencils, lead, and erasers.

I use it as a kind of mechanical IQ test to see how long it takes people to figure out how to open it. You have to slide the top down and then turn the middle section to the right to get to the bottom. This one is about 8 inches long by 3 inches wide by 1 1/2 inches deep. The figured Movingui top is from Ghana, Africa and was a backer board scrap left after the veneer was turned off of the trunk. The Brazilian Mahogany bottom was made from a shipping crate for veneer.

Construction Process in Eight Steps: There are six pieces of wood used to make up the box. First, cut the left end of the mahogany piece off. Second, you cut the bottom lengthwise. Third, cut the right end off of the mahogany section. Forth, cut the dado grooves for the pencils in the center section and the bottom section. Fifth, cut a sliding dovetail in both sides of the inside of the top. Sixth, make an angled cut across the top section. Seventh, make a sliding dovetail cut in the top Movingui piece and cut away the section of the top that covers the solid left hand section of the top. (It is shown upside down in the bottom of picture 4) Eighth, glue the ends back on and add the swivel screw from the top of the mahogany piece to the bottom section. (There are several more construction hints lower in this posting in the replies to Kiefer and others. Please scroll down.)

Hint: When you are starting be sure your dado cuts leave enough room for your pencils to fit, especially ones with clips. Try making just the dadoes in a scrap and size your box from there.

Lessons Learned: When I started I thought I could sell these as great presents for kids and presentation boxes for pens, but the building process is so complex and the sliding dovetail work is so difficult to fine tune that I decided to just make three or four and give the ones I didn’t want to keep to friends for presents. I couldn’t make them pay off in terms of time spent and profit earned. People simply aren’t going to pay what the product is worth in time spent for a lowly pencil box.

Thanks! As always thanks for looking and a special thanks to those who take time to comment or offer suggestions. A big thanks to all for making this a “Top Three” for today. I appreciate the support.

-- Big Al in IN

22 comments so far

View woodpezzer's profile


125 posts in 3542 days

#1 posted 06-27-2012 05:22 AM

This is a very cool pencil box—both of them. Too nice for pencils I think. Really nice job. I dig all your boxes!

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4646 days

#2 posted 06-27-2012 05:26 AM

It sure can be an involved process to make what would at first appear to be a simple process. Very Nice!

View Ken90712's profile


18099 posts in 4526 days

#3 posted 06-27-2012 08:52 AM

Very cool and different, I like it. Looks fun to make.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6879 posts in 5317 days

#4 posted 06-27-2012 11:45 AM

Hi Al,

GREAT job!

These look beautiful.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 4405 days

#5 posted 06-27-2012 01:43 PM

Very nice!

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View sras's profile


6518 posts in 4467 days

#6 posted 06-27-2012 02:31 PM

Very creative design. Well thought out and very nice looking.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View bko's profile


118 posts in 4355 days

#7 posted 06-27-2012 02:37 PM

Very nice work!


View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4291 days

#8 posted 06-27-2012 03:07 PM

Nice. Both clever and nicely made. But, I also sympathize with anyone trying to make a buck selling nice box work. Apparently, the colonies did not inherit England’s appreciation of fine boxes. :-)

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4204 days

#9 posted 06-27-2012 03:34 PM

It’s very creative, beautiful, and useful. Very nice work.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4641 days

#10 posted 06-27-2012 04:16 PM

that is a really slick pencil holder, you did a fantastic job…i love the woods you used, they certainly belong in a busy corporate office , on the desk top of some rich executive…lol…....thats where i see them…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Rayford's profile


10 posts in 3499 days

#11 posted 06-27-2012 04:44 PM

Crafty and cool very nice. The grain of the wood pops nicely.

-- Ray

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 4414 days

#12 posted 06-27-2012 05:39 PM

Now these are very nice! Very well done!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Boxguy's profile


2905 posts in 3605 days

#13 posted 06-27-2012 08:39 PM

Pezz, I too had a pet raccoon when I was a kid. They are great fun when they are little. However, if you live in a house with wooden siding woodpeckers are not your favorite of Nature’s kingdom.

Greg, it is an art to make the difficult seem easy. Guess I’m not too artsy.

HofaW, I try to craft work that is utilitarian, not just attractive. Sometimes they are both.

Ken, they are fun to make, but they are not easy to make.

Steve, the fun was in figuring out all the steps.

Roger, my life would be easier if I could be content making crappy boxes for less money…It just is not in me to do it. That said, at my best I could not match your fine work. I really liked the one you posted yesterday.

Grizz, thanks. If you know someone in a corner office tell on me.

Rayford, figured movingui is a wonderful wood. It looks holographic in strong light. I try to use up every scrap of it.

-- Big Al in IN

View JoeyG's profile


1275 posts in 3963 days

#14 posted 06-27-2012 09:25 PM

You need to call the cops now, because I have no doubt this idea will be stolen. Heck, I might steal it myself. Don’t be surprised when it shows up in others projects. I have been looking for an excuse to make a grease box, but I don’t use handplanes so I don’t really need one. Now I have an excuse. I love pencils and I love this design.

Great job as always.


-- JoeyG ~~~

View Boxguy's profile


2905 posts in 3605 days

#15 posted 06-27-2012 10:39 PM


Steal away! The real trick is getting the dovetail right.

-- Big Al in IN

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