Boxguy And Thomas Start Boxing In The Shop

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Project by Boxguy posted 11-13-2014 11:28 AM 3643 views 26 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Thanks for looking at this project. Any comments and suggestions are appreciated and welcome. I will reply to all of you Lumberlanders out there who take time to “have your say” in the next 24 hours, so check back for feedback. There is a tutorial index of some of my previous postings at the end of this project that will show you how to build the jigs and learn the techniques for building boxes like this.

Pictured: is a box (11 3/4 L, 6 1/2 W, 5 1/2 H) with Black Cherry sides and a Curly Maple top. It features a continuous hinge, a stop chain, a simple finger lift, an attached top, corner splines, faux legs, art work on top, an inscription inside, and large internal divisions to hold bracelets.

Story: Thomas is a talented artist who wanted to give his son and new daughter-in-law a useful wedding gift that was not just another toaster. So a jewelry box for bracelets with a graphic on top was the ideal solution. It was a hit with the newly weds at the reception.

Art: This stylized pyrographic southwestern scene has a lot going on as the north-facing highway moves from night to day and crosses the desert. There is a bit of Irish flourish at the edges. All of which adds biographical information. Thomas did the art work using a simple hand-held pen and lots of patience.

Teaching: This was the first box Thomas made. When I give boxing lessons, I make a box and the learner makes a box. As I make my box and take it through each of the nearly 100 steps of construction, the learner goes through the same steps on his box right behind me. As you can see from the picture above Thomas did careful work. His corner splines are fit snugly and the top is jointed seamlessly. The art work was done first and we taped over that to protect it as we went through the various construction steps. When we were ready for the final sanding and finishing steps he took the tape off.

Focus: I enjoy teaching others to make boxes. I do the construction step and explain what I am doing, and the student follows behind and does that same step on his box. Using this “I make a box, you make a box” teaching technique has several advantages. The main one is that the student actually makes his box rather than just watching me make his box. Another advantage is that when we finish we each have a box to show for the process. I have a box I can sell and the student has a box he can use. I recommend this teaching method as a way you in Lumberland could teach woodworking to others. Thomas is at ease around tools and is a careful craftsman, so his resulting box is a great job.

Tutorials: For methods used to make boxes like the one pictured above just click on the blue links below. They are arranged by topic.

Making a jig to cut spline slots:
Jig for 45ing corners:
Making splines with a simple jig:
Finishing tips:
$5 band clamps:
Combining Wood Colors:
Sizing Tea Boxes and Dividers From Venetian Blinds
Making Kleenex boxes:
Routers and Rounding edges
Why round box corners?
Organizing a glue-up table:
Adding splines to a box:
Measuring for spline slot cuts:
Installing an attached top: like that pictured above.
Cutting off the box top and sizing piano hinges
Adding finger indents:
More about finger indents.
Mortising and installing hinges:
Tips on making sliding trays: for inside boxes:
Swapping Wood By Mail:
Making a serving tray with angled sides.
Roy Underhill's tool tote.

-- Big Al in IN

26 comments so far

View Northwest29's profile


1469 posts in 1911 days

#1 posted 11-13-2014 11:46 AM

A beautiful little box that will be treasured for years to come. Thanks for the links I will take a look through for sure. Was the art work on top done with a laser?

-- Ron, Eugene, OR, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View steve_in_ohio's profile


1195 posts in 1031 days

#2 posted 11-13-2014 11:48 AM

wow, that is beautiful

-- steve, simple and effective

View jeffswildwood's profile


1287 posts in 1398 days

#3 posted 11-13-2014 12:18 PM

Very nice box with very nice art work. I really like your teaching method and all the instructions you post here. They have helped me a lot. You two make great boxing partners!

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way thats says "I meant to do that".

View R_Stad's profile


369 posts in 1264 days

#4 posted 11-13-2014 01:01 PM

Beautiful box Al and Thomas. Thanks once again for your generous sharing of techniques and craftsmanship. Well done.

-- Rod - Oregon

View grizzman's profile


7781 posts in 2724 days

#5 posted 11-13-2014 01:11 PM

its a beautiful box, between the box and the artwork, i bet it was a real hit , ive got a good woodburner and need to try my hand at doing some art one day…great job on the box.

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

View Roger's profile


19714 posts in 2225 days

#6 posted 11-13-2014 02:03 PM

Your box builds are all so exquisite Al. Super fine.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Dave777's profile


303 posts in 3490 days

#7 posted 11-13-2014 02:08 PM

All and Thomas,
What wonderful work, an excellent box for sure. Al thanks again for the tips ,wish I were one of your students, wait a minute I guess I am one of your students I just did not get to work side by side in your shop. Thanks Al.

-- the stone rejected by the builders will become the capstone

View doubleDD's profile


5062 posts in 1464 days

#8 posted 11-13-2014 02:27 PM

The art work and your style box are great and make this a special gift. Your teaching method of building along side the student is one I shared with my nephew many years ago. The concept of explaining what your going to do, then showing them, and then have them follow behind you works wonders in my opinion. Well done.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Boxguy's profile


2122 posts in 1688 days

#9 posted 11-13-2014 02:39 PM


Ron asked if the artwork was done by laser…it wasn’t. It was such a good question that I edited the posting to include the information about Thomas freehanding the art with a hot pen. Thomas really is an artist.

Steve, many of your posts start with the word “simple.” In truth they are excellent ideas distilled until they appear to be simple. So I’ll simply say thanks on behalf of Thomas and myself.

Rod, thanks. Any man who can make a box, a chair, and a table from flooring and decking scraps knows his way around the shop. Nice work. You might consider using 45s on the corners of your box. I have a tutorial about that and making cheap band clamps in the index that goes with this posting. Glad to have helped.

Jeff, thanks. Thomas and I have spared and conspired on several projects. One of the latest was making 135 story blocks for some kindergarten classes he taught. A story block is a set of six 1 1/2 inch blocks that you roll like dice. (Jigs were involved to round all the corners safely.) Each block has a simple picture like a sun or bird or animal drawn on one of the faces. You roll the dice (blocks) and write or tell a story using the pictures that land on top. Thomas calls it storytelling. I call it teaching kids to be better liars.

Grizz, always good to hear from you. I bought a burner pen thinking I could burn my signature into my boxes. I couldn’t. So I sign them with marker and put finish over the signature. I gave the burner to Thomas after this project. Hope you have better luck than I did.

Roger, thanks. Nice to hear from you again. “Exquisite” is a tough word to live up to, but I do enjoy making boxes. Hope you made it to the St. James Art Fair this year. “Gwanma” and I were visiting our grandson in Boston at the time.

Dave, what a nice comment, thanks. You made my day. Long time no post for you. What are you working on lately? Keep boxing and keep posting.

DD Dave, Good to hear from you again. Your Oreo cookie jar turning is fun. I am glad you have helped your nephew learn more about woodworking. Since schools no longer teach woodworking, it is up to those of us in Lumberland to take up the challenge. It happens one student at a time. Glad to hear you too have had success with this teaching technique.

-- Big Al in IN

View Jim Sellers's profile (online now)

Jim Sellers

394 posts in 1756 days

#10 posted 11-13-2014 03:51 PM

Nice work all the way around Al. From the illustrated quilted top to the splined rounded corners. Thanks for the links and lessons. My compliments. (no reply expected)

-- J.C.Sellers, Norcross, Ga. Just cut it right the first time. The best carpenters make the fewest chips.

View drewpy's profile


568 posts in 778 days

#11 posted 11-13-2014 04:09 PM

Great work Al. Thanks for the details behind it and sharing your knowledge.

-- Drew in Ohio -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 1622 days

#12 posted 11-13-2014 06:12 PM

Another fine job Al, always nice to see your work and write ups…

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View exit116's profile


140 posts in 1213 days

#13 posted 11-13-2014 06:29 PM

thanks for always sharing boxguy, good to see your still boxing

-- Money: if you do not have fun earning it, have fun spending it, I do not enjoy spending it so I have fun earning it.

View Boxguy's profile


2122 posts in 1688 days

#14 posted 11-13-2014 06:34 PM


Jim, replies is what I do. Thanks for the kind works, and I am happy if something I did helped you. Your round, squared… box is amazing. What a great job.

I am fascinated with your top and launch mechanism. What is the launch mechanism made from? Does it come from some toy car? You are right, looking at the video is needed to really appreciate the action and skill involved. It looks like it would be fun to make and have my children and grandchildren play with during the holidays. Could you send me a PM of the details? I wonder if a simple square hole and pointed square rod would serve in place of the gear? Probably it would not make launching as easy.

Drew, thanks and I am glad to help if I can. I really liked your Dominos box and the Mexican Train ideas. In the spirit of sharing ideas, if you used a different number for the top ( say six or three) you might include this concept for the sliding lid. It would, however, make it harder to remove the domino pieces. Keep boxing and keep posting.

Exit, good to hear from you again. Your golf club hanger makes sense to me as a good use for golf clubs since I have never played the game. I have been busy in the shop helping other people with projects and carving wooden spoons. This was my starting effort. I have moved on to more detail in my carving. I carve 4 or 5 spoons a week, and now have about 60 on hand. They now have a more organic shape and are better finished and sanded. Progress on such things is slow and steady. The shapes, lengths, and woods used keep evolving. I’ll post a tutorial when I feel I have perfected the techniques.

-- Big Al in IN

View mrsKennyMak's profile


61 posts in 1105 days

#15 posted 11-13-2014 06:38 PM

That’s a beautiful work of art! And all the little details are fantastic!

-- “In strange and uncertain times such as those we are living in [...] may we trust the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse.” ~ Robert Fripp

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