First attempt at box making

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Blog entry by Cato posted 07-26-2011 10:29 PM 3493 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So I have seen a lot of good boxes on the site, really really nice boxes from a lot of you.

And so I thought hey I will make my girls some for Xmas. Jeez good thing I started early!!!

Normally I will read up a little on whatever project I am going to tackle since me and finer woodworking are not mentioned in the same sentence.

I should have done that before starting blindly into this project, but I have learned a lot and of course made tons of box building and no no’s, but oh well.

Now I have gotten a Doug Stowe and David Freedman books, so maybe just maybe my next two will be better quality and design.

I still have to make the inner tray, line with felt and put in tray and drawer dividers, but here is where I am so far in this new project attempt.

I like the way walnut finishes out and a bunch of firsts for me with this box, dovetails, transtint orange dye, and working with little tiny pieces of wood in small spaces!!

I finished with sealcoat shellac, orange dye, amber shellac, dark paste wax, and very light coat of waterlox sealer finisher.

Once I get past this last stage, then on to a box made of maple, and one of mahogany or butternut. I’ll try miter joints on one and maybe finger joints on the other. Still studying the Stowe and Freedman books for design ideas.

14 comments so far

View cwdance1's profile


1158 posts in 3287 days

#1 posted 07-26-2011 10:44 PM

Looks beautiful to me. You did a fine job.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10123 posts in 4081 days

#2 posted 07-26-2011 10:48 PM

Hi Cato!

Hey, I think you’re doing a darn GOOD JOB!

Looks very nice to me!

I’m wondering why you finished it the way you did though…

”I finished with sealcoat shellac, orange dye, amber shellac, dark paste wax, and very light coat of waterlox sealer finisher”

Is that the sequence you used to Finish it?

If so, how long do you think the Waterlox is going to stay on top of that Paste Wax?
The first “sealcoat of shellac” for blotching control? Did you sand it down afterwards before applying the TransTint?
The amber shellac over the Orange looks really good!

Did you design it yourself?

You’re doing GOOD! Keep it up!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Cato's profile


701 posts in 3341 days

#3 posted 07-26-2011 11:01 PM

Hey Joe I told you I broke a lot of rules. I knew that finish schedule would cause some head scratching.

The dark paste wax was to blend in and mask a small dye run on the back panel. Also I think/hope the waterlox finish sealer will be fine over the paste wax as I just wanted to get the wax deep into the pores of the walnut, then I buffed most of it off before applying just the thinnest of coats of the waterlox finish sealer. Have to wait and see how that works out.

The sealcoat was to limit the amount of dye into the wood. On my test pieces the porous walnut would grab the dye, where with a sealcoat it was way more manageable to apply. Yes did sand between all coats.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10123 posts in 4081 days

#4 posted 07-26-2011 11:05 PM

OK… I don’t think the waterlox is going to do much good on top of the wax… Good Luck…
Hope it works for you.

I can see waterlox on top of dewaxed amber shellac, then the dark wax & buffing.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Cato's profile


701 posts in 3341 days

#5 posted 07-26-2011 11:24 PM

Cwdance and Joe, thank you for your nice comments. There are a lot of mistakes I had to go through, but guess that is the only way I seem to learn.

Yeah Joe I probably got a little out of sequence with that but if the dark wax did not fix the dye run, then I had the option of taking the whole finish off the back panel with alcohol and redoing it.

So if the waterlox going down last doesn’t offer any added protection, the only reason I used it, then the wax will have to do. Next time I will try and avoid the whole dye run issue and not have that problem to deal with.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3850 days

#6 posted 07-26-2011 11:39 PM

Cato, this did turn out pretty well. The box looks good. I am sure doing the dovetails was something that you gave a lot of thought but they look like they came out pretty well. I am betting the next box will go a lot easier.

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

View LarryB's profile


97 posts in 2657 days

#7 posted 07-26-2011 11:53 PM

Cato, just keep up the good work. You’ll learn something new, or what not to do, or what you wish you had done with each project.
Your girls will not care about the “mistakes” but only love the fact that “Daddy made this for me!”

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3317 days

#8 posted 07-27-2011 01:28 AM

great work

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View fisherdoug09's profile


122 posts in 2703 days

#9 posted 07-27-2011 03:28 AM

Great job Cato, we all learn more and more with every box we make, or anything we make. I too started making boxes using the David Freedman book. He does an excellent job explaining all the steps in each box he has in the book.

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 3020 days

#10 posted 07-27-2011 03:47 AM

I really like the way the finish came out, especially in the second picture.

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2962 days

#11 posted 07-27-2011 06:02 AM

your first attempt yield a nice box.

I think your at second attempt we will see a terrific box.

great work!

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 3815 days

#12 posted 07-27-2011 02:43 PM

Holy simolies…your 1st box? Really?
It turned out very nice. That walnut looks great. I hope to see more from you in the future.
Thanks for sharing your work with us.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3065 days

#13 posted 07-27-2011 04:26 PM

Its a fine start. Well done. Lets see more.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Cedar64's profile


26 posts in 2433 days

#14 posted 11-05-2011 06:06 PM

Very nice box. I have never built a box, but I plan too cause know I have a pretty good amount of scrap lumber from the ceiling project that im working on. My older sister hinted to me about a small cedar chest.
Let’s see what happens. :)

-- Russell @ Rhode Island Woodworker

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