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Cheap Product Boxes

by Ynot
posted 09-28-2020 08:57 PM


27 replies so far

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile

wildwoodbybrianjohns

2218 posts in 464 days


#1 posted 09-28-2020 10:39 PM

What is marketed in the States as Brazilian Cherry might work for you. AKA Jatoba, and not a cherry tree. Very common now for flooring material. Sorry for the tiny screen-capture. Says here, 2.60$ per square foot of 3/4” X 3.” Jatoba is tough wood, definitely need carbide tooling.

Good luck.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: The Big Bang: Nothing - exploded into Everything. Thanks to Nothing.

View SMP's profile

SMP

2874 posts in 822 days


#2 posted 09-28-2020 10:46 PM

If they are spending money on cbd products they may as well spend on some decent wood IMO

View Loren's profile

Loren

10788 posts in 4564 days


#3 posted 09-28-2020 10:48 PM

Dyed poplar sounds great. Locally I can get brown birch at a cheap price and I’ve got alder cheap in the past but for some reason it’s not stocked where I’ve shopped anymore. What you can get and what you’ll pay varies regionally. Sanding time will get ya’ too if you’re not equipped to automate it or you choose a wood that’s too hard for what your client is willing to pay for to compensate you for your time.

Try pricing out some different ideas for the client. His product may not be high end enough to afford the aesthetic qualities in wood he has a taste for. That’s clients, champagne tastes on a budget.

BTW, those foreign tea boxes are made of something like monkey pod or meranti I think. Soft, fast growing hardwoods.

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

1818 posts in 1505 days


#4 posted 09-29-2020 12:08 AM

Jatoba is inexpensive and tough as nails. The boxes will outlast the CBD. Because it is tough you can get down to 1/8” and still have a tough structural integrity. I’ve made many boxes with it and its a joy to work with. Its very stable.

Here are some nesting boxes my shop partner made. The smallest it 1/2”x1/2”x1/2”

Nesting jatoba boxes

Note the corners aren’t butt jointed.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View CWWoodworking's profile (online now)

CWWoodworking

1137 posts in 1095 days


#5 posted 09-29-2020 01:14 AM

Unless you go exotic, the cost of hardwoods should be a pretty small part of the price.

I would not use poplar because for pennies more you can get something that takes stain much better.

How about wormy maple? I can buy it cheaper than poplar and has much more character.

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

3832 posts in 2411 days


#6 posted 09-29-2020 09:19 AM

How many do you need?

IMHO – Much cheaper to buy pre-made product boxes. Wood box packaging is BIG business. Michael’s boxes are retail pricing, they sell at wholesale level down street for 40-50% of retail. Suggest your friend needs to find wholesale source?

There are packaging companies in US that sell large hinge top 10×12x3 Paulownia plywood boxes for less than $10 by case. Papermart is one online example. There are many more local wholesale packaging distributors scattered around USA.

Have toured several box factories in Philippines and Malaysia were these boxes are made, doing engineering inspections of factories to maintain the corporate ethics/responsibility ethos. The Asian box mfg sell them for couple bucks each by 100 qty. Hinged wine bottle presentation boxes sell for ~65 cents each by thousand.

Bottom line: I wouldn’t make/sell 100’s of product boxes, unless they had to be something really special using exotic woods and require laser/CNC customization. Would let the folks that are happy to get paid $1/hr do this work.

Best Luck on your business endeavor!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View CWWoodworking's profile (online now)

CWWoodworking

1137 posts in 1095 days


#7 posted 09-29-2020 10:40 AM



How many do you need?

IMHO – Much cheaper to buy pre-made product boxes. Wood box packaging is BIG business. Michael s boxes are retail pricing, they sell at wholesale level down street for 40-50% of retail. Suggest your friend needs to find wholesale source?

There are packaging companies in US that sell large hinge top 10×12x3 Paulownia plywood boxes for less than $10 by case. Papermart is one online example. There are many more local wholesale packaging distributors scattered around USA.

Have toured several box factories in Philippines and Malaysia were these boxes are made, doing engineering inspections of factories to maintain the corporate ethics/responsibility ethos. The Asian box mfg sell them for couple bucks each by 100 qty. Hinged wine bottle presentation boxes sell for ~65 cents each by thousand.

Bottom line: I wouldn t make/sell 100 s of product boxes, unless they had to be something really special using exotic woods and require laser/CNC customization. Would let the folks that are happy to get paid $1/hr do this work.

Best Luck on your business endeavor!

- CaptainKlutz

This could be said about anything. But people still buy some American products. Not everything is about price.

If I was into that type of thing and it was in a import box, there is 0% chance of me buying it. Especially if it was sitting next to a decent made hardwood box.

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

1780 posts in 3766 days


#8 posted 09-29-2020 12:47 PM

Start with getting your neighbor to tell you what he thinks he’s going to pay for the boxes.

ALL TOO Often people think that they know a wood worker and that we have some sort of magic tree full of elves where wooden products just fall from the branches. The average consumer has no idea what the cost of wood is or the cost of labor to produce the products.

Keep in mind that if you buy wood at $2 a bf by the time you have processed, trimmed, shaped, and finished final fabrication the cost of the wood left in the product is often twice what you paid for it before you have even examined labor costs, (it’s the same thing when butchering meats).

I do production for an artisan that needs “blank canvas” products for laser engraving and final artwork. For the cost of the products to make sense for the both of us, I sell him prepared unfinished “kits” sanded to 120 which he assembles and puts a finish on, and we both make a little on each item.

Once you know what your neighbor has in mind to pay you can see what makes sense, I’ve seen some very nice boxes for premium food items that are produced from 4mm Baltic birch which if you work a smart cut-list would minimize waste and cut the expenses of milling solid wood and you would be going from sheet stock straight to cutting and building the boxes.

Good luck always good to have the side hustle working for new tools!

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Rich's profile (online now)

Rich

6158 posts in 1506 days


#9 posted 09-29-2020 01:33 PM


Start with getting your neighbor to tell you what he thinks he s going to pay for the boxes.

- ChefHDAN

+1. You can’t possibly come up with a plan until you have a price target.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Ynot's profile

Ynot

25 posts in 2502 days


#10 posted 09-29-2020 01:46 PM

Thank-you all for your advice.

I spoke with him and he gave me a ballpark of what he’s seen them go for online. It might be something I can work with, but won’t know more until I find the right stock & other materials, know the amount of time spent per box and what my profit would be.

Once I get an assembly line down it’ll speed things up quite a bit, but have to work out the initial design first. I expect some going back and forth as well, but know it’s just par for the course. I’ll look into Jatoba and other native, hard woods and play around a bit. Each box may be somewhere around 8.5” wide x 6” deep x 4.25” high.

Not looking to make a living off this sort of thing, but something to put towards this crazy addiction could always help.

View 4wood's profile

4wood

66 posts in 870 days


#11 posted 09-29-2020 02:02 PM

There are many engineered wood floors that have a thick top layer of some very good species that you could resaw and use the top layer and still have some very good plywood left over for something else.

https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=engineered+floor+wear+layer&qpvt=engineered+floor+wear+layer&form=EQNASM&first=1&scenario=ImageHoverTitle

As Wildwood mentioned you could buy new solid wood flooring at a good price. I have installed wood floors for many years and have put a lot of cut-offs in the dumpster and also kept a lot for future use for projects. There have been many times when a solid nail down or click together wood floor had to be replaced because of water damage and is an insurance claim which required the whole floor to be removed. All of this wood goes into the trash On many occasions there may be one or two boxes left over from the job. My suggestion is to check with some of your local wood flooring companies or their installers. There may be a free dumpster full for you now. My local Habitat for Humanity store usually has some boxes for sale. Free wood may require a little more labor, but you will need to be the judge if it is worth it.

View Rich's profile (online now)

Rich

6158 posts in 1506 days


#12 posted 09-29-2020 02:20 PM


I spoke with him and he gave me a ballpark of what he s seen them go for online…

- Ynot

That alone would be enough information for me to say no. You can’t possibly compete in price with cheap production products. I wouldn’t build a hinged box that size for under $100, irrespective of the type of wood.

There are more points to consider besides the cost of the wood. What will the hinges cost you? Will he want it to have a clasp, and what will that cost? What sort of joinery are you planning? Will you have to buy any tooling to achieve that joint? What sort of finish will you use, and what will that cost per box? There are countless other pitfalls.

However, it’s your call. If you just want an excuse to get lots of practice building boxes, and can charge enough that you don’t lose money in the process, go for it.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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ChefHDAN

1780 posts in 3766 days


#13 posted 09-29-2020 02:54 PM


I spoke with him and he gave me a ballpark of what he s seen them go for online…
- Ynot

That alone would be enough information for me to say no. You can t possibly compete in price with cheap production products. I wouldn’t build a hinged box that size for under $100, irrespective of the type of wood.

- Rich

Agreed,

Unless it’s just for sawdust therapy, the client pays all costs and you get the woodworking JOY of making sawdust… I’ve been there and done that many times for the church,

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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Ynot

25 posts in 2502 days


#14 posted 09-29-2020 03:34 PM

Got it, thanks all. I can’t afford to work for free, so I’ll have to really crunch the numbers on this one and see if it’s worthwhile. If I don’t come by a box of very discounted flooring it’s just not going to happen at this point. I called my lumber yard and they said Jatoba is $7.15 b/f. Cherry is at $3.13. and that’s picking through the low qual stock.

Glad I inquired here first. Lot’s of great advice. Thanks

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

1818 posts in 1505 days


#15 posted 09-29-2020 04:07 PM

Remember that your per unit cost should drop in half every time you add a zero to the production quantity.

Suppose your “all in” cost for the first box is say $5. The 10th should only cost you $2.50 to produce. The 100th $1.25, the 1000th, $0.63, etc.

This cost reduction is from better skills at making them, lower costs for bulk buying, and better production techniques as quantities grow. You’ll find that you will figure out how to boil the labor content out. For example gang cutting instead of cutting one piece at a time.

On a related side note this type of production requires precise and repeatable cutting so that the lid from the first box will correctly fit in the 100th box. Thus fences like the Incra are a great help because you can reset to a given 1/32” measure +-0.002” in seconds. The speed difference alone in repeating a given measure exactly will pay the upgrade cost.

You’ll never be able to do interchangeable batches without precision tooling. The standard TS fences just can’t repeat to 0.002” in time. You can get that precision, but at a huge labor cost as you set, measure, tap & repeat. Either that or dedicate a tool to each operation and never change the settings (as is done in factories).

There are three factors in a bid, speed, cost, and quality. You can only control two.

  • Fast and cheap, it won’t be quality.
  • Fast and high quality won’t be cheap.
  • High quality and cheap won’t be fast.

In a past life I was a factory production manager & engineer.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View CWWoodworking's profile (online now)

CWWoodworking

1137 posts in 1095 days


#16 posted 09-29-2020 04:24 PM



Remember that your per unit cost should drop in half every time you add a zero to the production quantity.

Suppose your “all in” cost for the first box is say $5. The 10th should only cost you $2.50 to produce. The 100th $1.25, the 1000th, $0.63, etc.

This cost reduction is from better skills at making them, lower costs for bulk buying, and better production techniques as quantities grow. You ll find that you will figure out how to boil the labor content out. For example gang cutting instead of cutting one piece at a time.

On a related side note this type of production requires precise and repeatable cutting so that the lid from the first box will correctly fit in the 100th box. Thus fences like the Incra are a great help because you can reset to a given 1/32” measure +-0.002” in seconds. The speed difference alone in repeating a given measure exactly will pay the upgrade cost.

You ll never be able to do interchangeable batches without precision tooling. The standard TS fences just can t repeat to 0.002” in time. You can get that precision, but at a huge labor cost as you set, measure, tap & repeat. Either that or dedicate a tool to each operation and never change the settings (as is done in factories).

In a past life I was a factory production manager & engineer.

- Madmark2

It doesn’t work that way.

While the cost could drop in half going from 1 to 10. But the next drop isn’t gonna be that much, unless you didn’t do a very good job the first time around. The analogy isn’t linear.

I have a few products I make a lot of. If I find 1% savings from where I started, I’m jumping for joy.

View Rich's profile (online now)

Rich

6158 posts in 1506 days


#17 posted 09-29-2020 04:30 PM


On a related side note this type of production requires precise and repeatable cutting so that the lid from the first box will correctly fit in the 100th box. Thus fences like the Incra are a great help because you can reset to a given 1/32” measure +-0.002” in seconds. The speed difference alone in repeating a given measure exactly will pay the upgrade cost.

- Madmark2

I’ll skip the failed economics lesson (that CWW addressed nicely) and jump to the fact that you don’t cut the lid to fit the box, you build a solid box with all six sides and cut the lid from it. That’s how you ensure that the lid fits perfectly.

I guess I must be some sort of wizard because I’ve built hundreds of boxes, using just my little old Delta UniFence, that all have perfectly fitting lids. Proper technique is the key, not gimmicks.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Madmark2

1818 posts in 1505 days


#18 posted 09-29-2020 04:37 PM

Yes, but can you swap box lids?

Not all boxes are made your way. Some have pivoting tops, some have sliders, etc.

I specifically excluded hinged boxes because the $5 brass hinge swamps the wood cost and the OP specified cheap.


There are other ways to make boxes than hacking them in half with the saw!

P.S:
The OP specified 3/16” or less material. Just what “hinge” are you going to install on that? Too thin to edge mortise and too thin to screw to for flat mount!

If you have a half dozen on your boxes on the shelf will the lid lines and hinge locations all be perfectly aligned? Dimensions all tight? They should be dead even when stacked. Production implies your products be both identical and interchangable.

If you make a dozen perfectly square identical boxes and in between cutting the lids off and mounting the hinges someone mixes the boxes and lids up, can you just grab any box and lid and mate them up? Think this can’t happen? Let your better half call you for lunch and the dog chases the cat over the pieces. DAMHIKT

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Rich's profile (online now)

Rich

6158 posts in 1506 days


#19 posted 09-29-2020 04:41 PM


Yes, but can you swap box lids?

- Madmark2

The OP specifically said hinged boxes. You don’t build a hinged box in two pieces.

Since you included photos of a box with a sliding lid, explain to me how 0.002” repeatability matters?

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Madmark2

1818 posts in 1505 days


#20 posted 09-29-2020 06:58 PM

Sure you do. Its called a hinged, lidded box. The top is a frame that is hinged to a separate base.


Framed lid box.

Some boxes have lids that pivot on ends for hinges.


Pivot lid box

A sliding lid box with a .125” tab needs a .130” groove on either side to slide. Both being .125” will jam.

Why not spend your energy finding the OP a hinge for 3/16” material instead of insisting there is only one type of box – yours.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Rich's profile (online now)

Rich

6158 posts in 1506 days


#21 posted 09-29-2020 07:11 PM


A sliding lid box with a .125” tab needs a .130” groove on either side to slide. Both being .125” will jam

- Madmark2

Good grief. I call that common sense. I’m pretty sure you don’t need 0.002” repeatability for that, nor for the two boxes in the photos. If you don’t know what I was referring to, I can’t help you.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Ynot's profile

Ynot

25 posts in 2502 days


#22 posted 09-29-2020 10:16 PM

Thanks again. While my neighbor did in fact specify hinges he didn’t specify the 3/16. Admittedly that was me as I just thought 1/4 was getting on the thicker side for this type of box, yet hadn’t considered a hinge that would be descent quality, not break the bank, and most importantly fit such a small dimension. Since this has been brought to light I obviously have to rethink it if I do in fact move forward.

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

5962 posts in 1737 days


#23 posted 09-30-2020 12:57 AM

Unless he’s a good neighbour and you are looking at a project during lockup, consider
  • multiples can be mass produced by others much cheaper than in private workshops… often setup is a large cut of initial cost.
  • You will be held responsible for any defects… even if idiot customers drop and break the box.
  • If there is more than 1 recipient, general satisfaction works on diminishing returns.
  • If they become popular, can you handle more request.
  • The first one is fun... usually the rest become chores.
  • Are you being paid? Contrary to common thought, time is not free… it is your most precious commodity.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View AlanWS's profile

AlanWS

98 posts in 4475 days


#24 posted 10-08-2020 02:35 AM

You might find that glued in leather works as a hinge. It doesn’t for every box type, but it can be appropriate. If you also add leather to the edge, the box can slam shut silently, which is a nice feature sometimes.

-- Alan in Wisconsin

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LittleBlackDuck

5962 posts in 1737 days


#25 posted 10-08-2020 02:53 AM


... the 1000th, $0.63, etc.
- Madmark2

While the cost could drop in half going from 1 to 10. But the next drop isn’t gonna be that much,...
- CWWoodworking


Hell, by then who cares what the costs are… with 1,000 boxes toiled over, I’d be expecting the neighbour to pay for my pension… and maybe even all the way up to my great grand kids when the retire…

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

3499 posts in 2714 days


#26 posted 10-08-2020 03:30 AM

For cheap throw away boxes I think a kerf hinge or a applied hinge is appropriate. No one going to care how cool your boxes look or what hinges they have. Pot heads only care or are only capable of thinking about their pot.

Here’s a applied hinge. A kerf hinge is kinda invisible but easily found .

Good Luck

-- Aj

View CWWoodworking's profile (online now)

CWWoodworking

1137 posts in 1095 days


#27 posted 10-08-2020 03:39 AM


... the 1000th, $0.63, etc.
- Madmark2

While the cost could drop in half going from 1 to 10. But the next drop isn’t gonna be that much,...
- CWWoodworking

Hell, by then who cares what the costs are… with 1,000 boxes toiled over, I d be expecting the neighbour to pay for my pension… and maybe even all the way up to my great grand kids when the retire…

- LittleBlackDuck

As someone who’s made 1000+ of something that the public perceives as cheap, it’s harder than you think to make a dime.

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