Boxguy and Derrick Re-Build The Twin Towers

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Project by Boxguy posted 07-25-2016 03:23 AM 1608 views 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Thanks for looking! A special thanks for all who take the extra time to leave comments. That is what makes doing these detailed postings fun for me. I will respond to all your comments as soon as I can.

Pictured is a different kind of box. It is made to hold 36 iPad-like computers for use in elementary classrooms. Derrick teaches fourth grade and the problem was how do you store and organize a computer for each kid while not taking up too much space? This is the solution we created, a tower of small shelves with a box on top. (The shelves and computers will be numbered later.) Derrick did most of the work on this project. I just helped.

The box on top holds assignment papers. Kids pick up their assignment and their computer, and then put their completed papers back in the box and computers back on the shelves when they are finished. If the tower looks short, it might be because Derrick is 6’ 9” tall.

We wanted a design that would be super sturdy because kids can be tough on stuff in classrooms. We also wanted it to be easy to assemble, so we built it like we build boxes. All three sides are wooden I-beams. A 2×3 with a dado groove filled with a glued-in panel of 1/2 inch plywood.

Finish: Three coats of Minwax wipe on poly. 800 grit sanded between coats and a final coat of wax applied with 0000 steel wool. So we wouldn’t gum up the slots for the Melamine shelves, we used a rattle-can spray finish on the slotted areas.


Top box 14×16 x 5

Total height 52”

Side panels all 12×48 x 1 1/4

Bottom stand 3/4×24 x 24

Construction Hints:

We have made four of these towers now. That is 576 cuts for shelves. Obviously you need a system that is accurate and efficient.

Start with a 2×6, plane it and sand it and round off the front side with a 5/8 roundover bit. cut the rounded part off the 2×6 and mark it for top and bottom and which board it came from so you can match the grain when you glue it back in place at the end. See the example above. After you have cut the 36 slots in the 2×6 saw the 2×6 in half lengthwise so it is a 2×3. It literally cuts the time in half and the slots match perfectly.

We used this jig with its aluminum “tongue” to cut the slots. It works just like a box jig. Cut a groove, move the groove over the tongue and cut the next groove.

This is another view of the jig for cutting slots. Notice the box at the back of the jig. This is so the saw blade will remain covered after the blade passes through the board. When you are doing a monotonous task at the table saw you want to be as safe as you can.

Making 144 shelves also takes planning. They were all made from 1/8 in Melamine. If you cut the slots with a 1/8 inch thick blade it makes a good fit. This Melamine comes in 4’ x 8’ sheets and is sometimes used as inexpensive tub or shower surrounds. Home Depot carries it in the bathroom area.

The cut-out curve on the front allows kids to reach in and grab their computer easily. We cut these 10” lengthwise from a 4×8 sheet then stacked 4 of the 10” x 8’ sheets together and pin nailed them three times on the end furthest from the miter saw blade. That way each cross cut produces 4 pieces. We then stacked up 8 of the 10” x 12” shelves, put a pin nail in two corners, cut away most of the curved cut-out on the band saw and then brought it to exact shape using the end of a large belt sander. This way we could produce 8 shelves at a time. You look for efficiency when you need to produce 144 shelves for a project.

Derrick used the first one we made in his classroom last year, and it worked well and really was a help organizing kids, papers, and computers. The last three we made were for other teachers in his building.

Well, this is a different kind of a box, but a box never the less. Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

15 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


8731 posts in 3076 days

#1 posted 07-25-2016 03:37 AM

Nicework for a good cause

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View SenecaWoodArt's profile


438 posts in 1853 days

#2 posted 07-25-2016 03:54 AM

Very neat and useful idea. I taught computer programming to elementary kids somewhere around 30 years ago using a program called Terrapin Logo. Was a lot of fun, that is until the school system started using the computers to teach the TACS test. Another whole story. Since I was a volunteer and disagreed with this use of a resource, I moved on to other things. I still have young men and women tell me how much they enjoyed those classes. Makes an old man feel good about something he did for others. I’ll bet some of these kids will remember this project later on in life. Great job guys.

-- Bob

View ralbuck's profile


5518 posts in 2500 days

#3 posted 07-25-2016 04:09 AM

The school budgets always seem to go for other things; not anything important like actual education! Good job on a needed project!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Boxguy's profile


2778 posts in 2501 days

#4 posted 07-25-2016 04:29 AM

Feedback about comments:

Doc, thanks. I really do like how these look considering it is just Melamine, pine 2×6s, and some plywood. We managed to achieve a certain symmetry, balance, and flow even in this utilitarian piece.

Bob, thanks. After 35 years of teaching and being retired for 15, I now have former students who are also retired. Now that really makes me feel old! Almost every week some kid I had in school will come up to me and say something nice about what we learned together. Makes you feel like you made a good use of your life. Hey how is the hinge saw coming along?

rjR, Actually, these were purchased by the teachers themselves, out of their own pockets, for their classrooms. Derrick sold them for slightly over the cost of the materials. It was a good project for a worthy cause. They really solve a lot of problems in classrooms.

-- Big Al in IN

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3537 days

#5 posted 07-25-2016 07:08 AM

a really nice project for a worthy cause, its a great way to store the computers, these will hold up well, ya know if Derrick would color his hair green, he could play the jolly green giant….ho ho ho….green giant…lol…thanks for sharing this, i know it had to be fun…..having a shop is always fun when you can help others, good job Derrick and bob, oh what type of computer ’s does the school have.

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

View majuvla's profile


13580 posts in 3101 days

#6 posted 07-25-2016 08:12 AM

Brilliant idea for classroom. Very useful and space saving project.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Roger's profile


20965 posts in 3038 days

#7 posted 07-25-2016 10:37 AM

Super nice way to store those class tablets. As always, very good, Al

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

View Boxguy's profile


2778 posts in 2501 days

#8 posted 07-25-2016 12:33 PM

Responses to Comments:

Grizz, it is always nice to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words. Derrick is a jolly giant. He and I have been enjoying working together on shop projects for over 10 years. Now that he has started his family he has more demands on his time, but this was a project he really wanted to do for his fellow teachers. Derrick has become a great woodworker. These have a finish that feels wonderful to the touch.

Ivan, thanks. You have posted an amazing variety of projects. They all have a great look and practical purpose. Thanks for sharing your work with us. Yes, these do work well. All of the feedback from kids and teachers has been good.

Roger, you have been posting some nice projects lately. The bean bag board really looked great. We really should swap shop visits some time. Stay safe.

-- Big Al in IN

View SenecaWoodArt's profile


438 posts in 1853 days

#9 posted 07-25-2016 09:48 PM

Al, since you asked, yes I have the answer to my metal cutting bandsaw. I was standing it the shop and it just came to me out of the blue. It may not be the most technically correct way, but it works. I have an old 14” piece of junk bandsaw that I hate and have been too critical of it to even sell. It has been taking up space but now it has a purpose. I am going to put a metal cutting blade on it and slow the speed down with this.
What do your think. The only cost will be the blade as I have everything else. I told you I just needed to think about it a while.

-- Bob

View Boxguy's profile


2778 posts in 2501 days

#10 posted 07-25-2016 10:00 PM

Bob, as long as the motor doesn’t get too hot it should work, though I am not too sure what the black box is or does. Finding new uses for tools that are not used much or not really good for what they were intended is always a plus. I have done the same thing for my spindle sander and my old Sears table saw. The spindle sander now makes finger lifts and the table saw now is dedicated to cutting 1/2 inch dados for plywood.

-- Big Al in IN

View SenecaWoodArt's profile


438 posts in 1853 days

#11 posted 07-25-2016 10:11 PM

Al, that black box is the variable speed control (foot pedal) for my scroll saw. No problem with over heating the motor, as i will be totally controlling the saw with my foot and since I don’t plan to cut anything more that hinges, there should never be extended running of the motor to create enough heat to damage it. Besides, did I mention that I hate that piece of junk anyway?

-- Bob

View Mean_Dean's profile


6910 posts in 3381 days

#12 posted 07-26-2016 12:18 AM

Great solution to the computer storage problem!

A box doesn’t always have to look like a usual box—sometimes thinking outside the box creates the best box for the job. And a good box for a good cause sounds like the best outside the box idea!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View DonSol's profile


249 posts in 1476 days

#13 posted 07-26-2016 12:31 AM

Great job and they should make his job a lot easier.

-- Don Solomon, New Castle, IN; Quality is not an act, it is a habit. Aristotle

View Boxguy's profile


2778 posts in 2501 days

#14 posted 07-26-2016 05:47 AM

Feedback and Replies:

Bob, I would rather have a saw run one, slower speed.

Dean, thanks for the thoughtful and clever reply. It is outside the box, but inside the classroom.

Don, thanks for the compliment. Derrick says that it makes classroom management much easier and kids happier. Sort of a win – win.

-- Big Al in IN

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2746 days

#15 posted 08-08-2016 12:42 PM

Wow Alan, those turned out great and very creative. I’m needing to build something similar for my DVD and CD collection.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

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