Butternut practice box that didn't come out too bad

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Project by lumberjoe posted 04-18-2013 04:35 PM 2269 views 4 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is your standard mitered box with a rabbeted bottom and the lid cut off after assembly. The splines are walnut and there is a walnut stripe on the top. I finished with danish oil, but it left the butternut really flat. After it dried I wiped on 2 coats of Arm-R-Seal. It was buffed with steel wool and waxed.

I have a huge 6/4 piece of butternut laying around. It is riddled with huge knots so I cut a clean slice off of it. I wanted to practice a lot of different things, and really had no hopes of this box coming out well at all.

First was resawing. I recently got a bandsaw and wanted to see if I could resaw a board that would be usable in an actual project. I was able to get a nice, clean 1/2” slice out of it

Next was cutting miters on my table saw. These are far from perfect, but came out halfway decent and much better than anything I have done previously. My sled still needs a few tweaks.

Also, not a single clamp was used in the construction. I have been using Hot Hide Glue for veneer work and some shop stuff, but I wanted to use it in a real project. Let me tell you, it is a pleasure to use. No fumbling around with awkward strap clamps or complicated corner clamps. I rubbed all the pieces together, got it square, than wrapped it once with painters tape so it wouldn’t shift. After sitting overnight, I could not pull it apart without mechanical advantage. Believe me, I tried. Also HHG does not affect finishes. A little hot water to clean up the dried squeeze out from gluing the top on, and I was good to go. Forget about the hours of sanding in tight spots.

The bottom is crappy shop grade 1/4” plywood. I had some bubinga veneer, so I applied it using hot hide glue and a veneer hammer.

The finger pull was done with my spindle sander. Also I used Soss hinges. This is where my fatal flaw was. The lid doesn’t line up perfectly. I was too lazy to make a jig for drilling the holes because I wasn’t even planning on finishing the box. had they lined up better, this would have been really nice


22 comments so far

View Sodabowski's profile


2393 posts in 3803 days

#1 posted 04-18-2013 05:34 PM

Looking pretty =)=

Not flush? Ahm oh right, now that you say I can see it in the pictures. Well, how about the edge sander to fix this?

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View Michael Wilson's profile

Michael Wilson

588 posts in 3460 days

#2 posted 04-18-2013 05:49 PM

I dunno man, you’re “not too bad” beats my best.

You’ve piqued my interest about hide glue.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3218 days

#3 posted 04-18-2013 06:03 PM

Thomas, it’s already finished, and it isn’t too bad. I knew it wouldn’t be perfect because I eyeballed the hole locations and drilled them free hand. If I had set up my drill press table properly, it would have been perfect

madwilliamflint, thanks! Look up some of Shipwrights blogs on using hot hide glue. I’m never going back to PVA’s unless I need waterproof characteristics.


View toddbeaulieu's profile


842 posts in 3974 days

#4 posted 04-18-2013 06:58 PM

This is really nice. Inspiring. I bought two books on boxes. Made one design (eight of ‘em) and stalled out on the finish, which I’m terrible at. I’d love to make more boxes and I really like the stripe in your lid.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3218 days

#5 posted 04-18-2013 07:01 PM

Thanks! that was not intentional. I was planning on making the lid from a little bit thicker piece of butternut, but it didn’t look right. The piece I had left over from cutting the sides was a little short, so I just added the strip. I wanted to offset it a bit toward the back. It could have been a little further back.


View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 3080 days

#6 posted 04-18-2013 07:07 PM

Looks good! Butternut is nice stuff.

I don’t use clamps on boxes like this, either. I use 2” blue tape, and roll the box into a circle, trapping the bottom and/or top. This works fine with any kind of glue. I prefinish the inside surfaces with shellac, and the small amount of wet glue squeezed inside wipes right off.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3218 days

#7 posted 04-18-2013 07:19 PM

Barry, I’ve done that with PVA glues, but they have come apart when I block plane the edges on the top so the lid seats perfectly. Probably more to do with my crappy miters than the glue though.

Edit – butternut is nice but it is VERY soft. There are a few dings in it already


View david38's profile


3518 posts in 3313 days

#8 posted 04-18-2013 08:20 PM

nice box

View Don W's profile

Don W

19839 posts in 3537 days

#9 posted 04-18-2013 09:04 PM

I love butternut. You did it proud!

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3218 days

#10 posted 04-18-2013 09:37 PM

Thanks Don! You are killing it with those Infill’s. Keep it up and Mr. Nielsen is going to be contacting you :)


View maineman1's profile


14 posts in 2840 days

#11 posted 04-18-2013 11:03 PM

Nice work. How did you like to work with the butternut? I am in the process of building a 4 poster king size canopy bed from butternut, Kind of tough, grains can be a problem fuzzing up.

-- Mike facebook/littlemaincreations

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3218 days

#12 posted 04-18-2013 11:52 PM

I actually found it a little difficult to work. I’m not sure if I have a difficult piece or this is par for the course with butternut – but it is heavily interlocked and the grain is completely random and swirly. Planing is almost impossible and it even tears out with 80 grit sandpaper. It did fuzz up quite a bit.

I may make another box with some of the stuff I have left. I will definitely pore fill before finishing. A lot of people refer to butternut as white walnut, but I think the grain is far more porous.

Finishing was tricky too. For some reason with just danish oil, it looked worse finished than unfinished. A lot of the different shading and the grain pattern kind of disappeared, it blotched up pretty bad too. I just waited a few days between danish oil coats, and actually applied a few more than I normally would and it evened out.

A couple coats of gloss Arm-R-Seal brought the color variations and grain patterns right back. I’m not a fan of glossy finishes, so I knocked it down a bit with steel wool. The Briwax took the super glossy sheen down a few notches also.


View SPalm's profile


5337 posts in 4852 days

#13 posted 04-19-2013 12:05 AM

Man that is some pretty looking wood. Gott’a get me some of that.

I think it is a very handsome box. You can fix the top alignment with sanding it you really want.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 4075 days

#14 posted 04-19-2013 12:15 AM

Nice work. Haven’t tried butternut. It does look good, but Nice to know it is soft. I am too careless to use soft woods very much!! Interesting about the Danish Oil. I have found a few woods I don’t like it on. have fun with your practice!

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 3117 days

#15 posted 04-19-2013 12:18 AM

Looks great!

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