Apartment Projects #4: Paying the Bills

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Blog entry by littlecope posted 12-03-2009 12:30 PM 1487 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: A Better Entrance Part 4 of Apartment Projects series Part 5: A sort of Trestle/Skid/Box/Tray? type of thing... »

Yeah, Everybody’s got to do it! About 8-9 years ago, I was doing exactly that, paying the bills, when my Girl Friend casually told me about her “system”. She kept her Checkbook in the same box that the envelopes come in, and put all the Deposit Slips, ATM Slips, and Sales Receipts where the ATM Card was used, behind the envelopesThe original envelope box
Maybe a lot of people do this, but I had never heard of it and really liked the idea of keeping the whole procedure, and records thereof, in one place.
Of course, over time, three things eventually occured: #1) The box filled up with receipts, #2) The cardboard envelope box began to wear out, and #3) I ran out of envelopes!! I purchased some more envelopes and, wouldn’t you know, the new and improved envelope box was more like a dispenser and couldn’t be used in this fashion… What to do…?
If you haven’t guessed already by the repeated use of the “key word”, I built a box!! Bet you couldn’t see that coming, right?
Nothing fancy here!! I had a scrap piece of Oak that was the approximate height, and used some leftover Lexan for the bottom. Since the appropriate size was already established, the challenge for me was to make a box that the cardboard box would slip right into… Much is said about “Thinking Outside the Box”, but there is a lot that could be said about thinking “Inside the Box” as well!! For those of you who have done this before, you know what I mean, but I found it very instructional and kind of “Backwards” thinking to make a box that another would fit inside of…Envelope Box Project
I used the cardboard one to mark the cut depths for the box joints, and added the thickness of the wood to both sides to get my side lengths… It was actually an interesting little project, working inside-out like that!! :)

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

14 comments so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3105 days

#1 posted 12-03-2009 12:55 PM

Good deal Mike. You found a way to combine efficiency and need and turn it into a practical shop project that will hone skills and make good use of that scrap laying around.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1229 posts in 3995 days

#2 posted 12-03-2009 12:59 PM

Cool little box.

I made a simliar one (same overall size size) but it has two dividers making three compartments where I keep pencils, pens, inexpensive reading glasses, 6” ruler and scissors.

How about some other ideas guys?

For example, we have another one about this size we keep on our kitchencounter top. There is no bottom and we lay it flat. The small TV is placed on top of it and on the inside we keep a small cable TV box to save counter space and it’s easy to turn the box depending what side of the room we are watching it.

-- Bob A in NJ

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3935 days

#3 posted 12-03-2009 01:10 PM

Necessity it the mother of invention and sometimes Mom says, “Stay in your room!” There are times when being practical is more important than being artistic. The box does what it was meant to do, and looks good doing it.

-- Working at Woodworking

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3105 days

#4 posted 12-03-2009 01:25 PM

I hear you Russel!

Bob, I love it when people turn to their shop instead of Walmart when need presents itself. This box is nice. I have made a few projects for practical use that got the job done, yet was uglier than sin. Last year, I needed a cart in my utility room for holding laundry soap and those types of odds and ends. After price checking some cheap plastic models, I went downstairs and constructed one out of some of the ugliest lime green plywood boards you ever seen (I tore them out of a room in my house shortly after buying it. I kept them for odd uses) and some pine 2×4s. I ripped the boards for legs and shelf supports and put on some wheels I saved from some other trashed item. Took me a couple hours and I had the cart I needed. It fit the bill and probably will last forever, though I wish my sons wouldn’t greet new guests by showing them the cart that “Dad made.”

Very cool idea on the use for a hollow box for counter space efficiency.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3429 days

#5 posted 12-03-2009 01:38 PM

Another box… how addictive!
I love the practical nature of this box. It is always nice to make something we can use immediately.
Have a happy holiday.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 3910 days

#6 posted 12-03-2009 02:56 PM

Dude! Online banking, online billing, automatic payments – no checks, no bills, no receipts, no envelopes.
You can still build a box – but you’ll have to use it for something else!

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4157 days

#7 posted 12-03-2009 04:34 PM

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3337 days

#8 posted 12-03-2009 05:54 PM

gee mike ,

now i’m going to measure my refrigerator ,
thats about the right size for my paperwork !

i have saved everything for 20 years ,
as they say you might need to prove ownership ?

but i am smarter than that ,
when i find something i cant read anymore ( faded ink ) ,
i throw it away !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View degoose's profile


7233 posts in 3351 days

#9 posted 12-03-2009 09:30 PM

I had so much paper work… I built a timber filing cabinet. For the hangers I cut some strips of steel 12 mm by 3 mm and slotted them in front and back… now can hang the folders in a drawer… need to weed out all the older stuff so I can fit some more papers in… lol
Good job on the box…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4296 days

#10 posted 12-04-2009 12:37 AM

A great project for leftover boards.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3187 days

#11 posted 12-04-2009 09:17 AM

Oak is the right wood!! My boss is always on me to think out of the box (our company has a tooling shortage).
I’ve used the envelope box thing for years, and then I throw the envelope box into a bigger box, and then we throw those boxes into a moving box, where they are stacked for our children when we pass away. They might even find my first pay check stubb from Dogs beautiful, $1.25 an hour. Nice box, and the perfect organizational system.


-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3498 days

#12 posted 12-04-2009 11:56 PM

Thanks, Everybody!!
Steve in NZ: Yeah, I do that now, but when I made this (3-4 years ago) I didn’t have a computer… And there are still Rent payments to be made, which require a “Old Fashioned” Check… And ATM visits… And I still manually keep track of it all in my Checkbook, to keep the Bank honest…
Just a few months ago, I was confounded by their numbers never matching mine. Asked at the bank, they looked into it, and $8 to $12 was being siphoned out of my account a week by some bandit company out there on the internet… They issued me a new ATM card and #, so far, so good… Be careful what you click!!!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Andrew's profile


709 posts in 3195 days

#13 posted 12-06-2009 05:15 PM

Looks great, I would assume this is also free wood as that is your MO, Hope things are going well for you, enjoy the holidays

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

View nmkidd's profile


758 posts in 3169 days

#14 posted 12-07-2009 09:22 PM

Great concept Mike…..however…if your like me…instead of emptying the box when full….I just get another, and another, and another etc….... until I have a small wall of boxes.(and I know how much you like to build boxes)

Then the stuff gets put in the burn bin and I start over. Good luck!

-- Doug, New Mexico.......the only stupid question is one that is never asked!........don't fix it, if it ain't broke!

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