My First Box

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Project by Tim posted 12-20-2010 06:09 AM 1527 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Whew! What a learning curve. The project was modelled off of a video series done by FWW. I made it as a thank you to a friend who helped me land a new job. Therefore, I made sure it was big enough for a bottle of booze, which wasn’t as easy as I thought as it got smaller and smaller each time I messed up the miters!

It is made of bird’s-eye maple sides with walnut top, bottom and splines. Finish is 2 coats of de-waxed shellac with a couple drops of trans tint. Then 2 coats of poly.

What did I learn? Everything! Re-sawed on the table saw. Miters were done with a large V router bit. Splines on the table saw what a shop-made jig. Where did I mess up? Everywhere! The resaw went surprisingly well. I have an older contractor style 10” craftsman and I didn’t think I’d have the juice. A little raise of the blade on each pass and I had zero saw-blade burning. A big Freud rip blade helped. I was psyched. I then used a couple of sticks as spacers and clamped the boards to let them acclimate as flat as possible. Then, took them out of the clamps and life got in the way. About 5 weeks passed and one board cupped a little on me. Eventually got it together, leading to big learning #2. I borrowed a neighbor’s brand new L-N #4 to help with the BE maple. it was awesome, but tore out the splines. Oops. #3: mortised for hinges that I found to be the wrong kind afterwards. Correct hinges were smaller (of course!). And then there was #4: the finish. The shellac pooled along the bottom and top edges of the lid which made it really uneven. I propped the lid up on painter’s triangles but I have to learn how to handle shellac better. I need to do some practicing but I will never use a foam brush again for finishes of any kind. So far, the foam brush is the only place I feel Norm A has led me astray.

Thanks for reading. Any suggestions on finishing boxes in their many parts and materials would be greatly appreciated.

11 comments so far

View Richard 's profile


394 posts in 3086 days

#1 posted 12-20-2010 06:44 AM

Hi Tim
Nice looking box anyways. I make my share of mistakes on some of the simplest projects, but it is important to make those mistakes as to learn from them. I am with you, I have never had any luck with foam brushes. They seem to dissolve with almost anything, and when they don’t dissolve, they spread the finish unevenly just like a toilet brush. Looking forward for your next projects.

-- Richard Boise, Idaho

View smitty22's profile


714 posts in 2912 days

#2 posted 12-20-2010 07:01 AM

Yep, the box came out great, and you’re a couple of rungs further up the skill ladder!

I’m just completing a few boxes for Christmaas (my first) and learned a ton. My first box also seemed to shrink a couple of times as I learned the elements of box joints.

-- Smitty

View rkoorman's profile


381 posts in 2789 days

#3 posted 12-20-2010 07:27 AM

great job for a first box. the box-shrinking …..yep….been there….done that..
i like the birds eye maple/walnut combo



View Robsshop's profile


907 posts in 2940 days

#4 posted 12-20-2010 08:41 AM

Great looking job on Your first box build ! Despite Your frustrations in the experience ,I am sure You will take the lessons learned and apply it to your next one ! Once again, the box has turned out great and the friend will most certainly cherish it for years to come !

-- Rob,Gaithersburg,MD,One mans trash is another mans wood shop treasure ! ;-)

View Maveric777's profile


2693 posts in 3042 days

#5 posted 12-20-2010 03:01 PM

Now that is one fine looking first box. Personally I have a hard time calling it a first box due to it sure doesn’t look like my first one…lol. Congratulations on your adventure into box making. Sounds to me like you learned a ton and enjoyed yourself. What more can one ask for?

I too struggled with the finishing (still don’t think I am where I need to be yet), but let me just put a bug in your ear about oils and waxes. I have become a big fan of using Danish Oil then after it is good and dry buffing it out with a nice wax. Briwax is a name I have heard many times by outstanding craftsman here on Lumber Jocks. I personally only have experience with Renaissance wax which I am a huge fan of. May want to play around with it some. To me personally there is no comparison as to the finish. Hope this helps some as far as the finish thing goes…

Thanks for sharing!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View SPalm's profile


5317 posts in 3847 days

#6 posted 12-20-2010 03:38 PM

What a good looking box. My my. I love it.

I struggle with finish too. I have always used wipe on products. I have too much dust for anything else.
I need too grow up and learn to spray.

And Dan, keep your bug out of his ear, yuck.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 3752 days

#7 posted 12-20-2010 03:49 PM

A fine looking box! It turned out looking first class. Your next box shouldn’t be 1/2 as hard.
Ok, now some meaningful feedback. Do you think the hinges should be spaced a bit closer to the sides? A top chamfer on the walnut lid panel insert might have added a nice element to the lid. Also, a chamfer or legs on the bottom of the box could help delineate the box from the surface it might sit on. But thats just me.
All in all I call your efforts a success and would be thrilled to receive it as a gift.
What kind of liquor you putting in it?

View Tim's profile


43 posts in 3145 days

#8 posted 12-20-2010 04:23 PM

Ratchet- I hope you are right about the next one! My friend got me a really good job, so it was Johnny Walker Gold. And it didn’t last too long!

View Triumph1's profile


889 posts in 3044 days

#9 posted 12-20-2010 08:36 PM

Well your first box turned out extremely nice and you learned a ton. I don’t think a single one one us hasn’t gone through at least one of the hardships you had….but that is how we get better.

I’m with Rachet on a small chamfer on the lid. Just a little to soften the edge and blend it in with the box top.

With Dan on the Danish Oil and wax. With the boxes I have finished that way I see that BriWax gives more of a shine. The Renaissance wax gives a nice low sheen/no fingerprint finsh. The Danish oil is great to use but I have also had good lucj with a equal mix of BLO/Spar Varnish/mineral spirits and also Tried and True Varnish oil. Basically wipe on/off finshes work well on boxes…they just give off a nice warm feel.

You might find box making a bit addictive…I know I have.

Thanks for posting and I hope you enjoy the site!

-- Jeff , Wisconsin Please...can I stay in the basement a little longer, please!

View DragonLady's profile


298 posts in 2972 days

#10 posted 12-21-2010 03:24 AM

If the box kept getting smaller (trust me, I know how you feel!) it just means the bottle of booze that fits in it will get smaller too :) and that’s good for the wallet, but not for the drinking!

-- A woman's work is never done-but power tools help!

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4057 days

#11 posted 12-21-2010 05:23 PM

Beautiful box wonderfully executed Tim. Boxes certainly are addicting… and fun to experiment with. You did a terrific job!

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

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