Parker and Landon's Box of Blocks

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Project by Cubby posted 04-02-2012 02:38 PM 2312 views 8 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

“I can’t throw them away.”

Just a stack of wood cutoffs, taking up space in the workshop. It is hard for me to give them up. They would burn nicely in the fire place (won’t do it). Perhaps the garbage? No way, I won’t even think of my wood nuzzling next to potato peels. And then, I see Tawney, their mom, my brother’s daughter. “Didn’t I make a box of blocks for the boys (her sons)?”, I asked. “No”, she replied. An “AHA” moment!, and a new project is born.

This is one example of what woodworkers can do with the cutoffs that clutter the shop. The completed project is a sturdy cherry box filled with those otherwise doomed pieces of wood, all milled and finished using hand tools and filled TO THE TOP. With observation and reasoning, there is a systematic solution that will enable Parker and Landon’s dad to get them back in. Another family member, Anna, tests them out.

Uses for this piece, filled with more than 700 individual blocks, are virtually endless.

1. Mathematics- counting, measuring, English system, metric system, longer, shorter, wider, thicker…
2. Engineering- building, stacking, dominoing, storing
3. Expansion- get them wet and you will learn quickly of the power of wood expansion
4. Wood species identification
5. Wood grain- with the grain, against the grain, face grain, end grain
6. Cut Plane- flat sawn, quarter sawn, rift sawn
7. etc., etc., etc.,

Additionally, it is an excellent exercise in milling and showcases the advantage of hand planes.

.....and it is virtually indestructible (unless it gets wet), a family heirloom that will last for generations.

-- Ron Baird, Pennsylvania, "WORK HARD, BE GOOD, HAVE FUN"

13 comments so far

View rasp's profile


75 posts in 2403 days

#1 posted 04-02-2012 03:25 PM

that is actually an excellent gift. it’ll last longer than any plastic toy, never have to replace the batteries ,and it inspires the next generation of builders and constructors.

i really like the metal handle you mortised into the side of the box. very nice touch.

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3382 days

#2 posted 04-02-2012 03:25 PM

That’s one very impressive project and the best use of unusable wood I’ve seen in a long time. I may have to copy your idea. Just getting them back in the box will be like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. LOL

-- Hal, Tennessee

View a1Jim's profile


117234 posts in 3722 days

#3 posted 04-02-2012 03:57 PM

Great Idea Ron,well done.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Cubby's profile


48 posts in 4284 days

#4 posted 04-02-2012 05:50 PM

Rasp, Hal and Jim, Thank you for the kind comments. I value the opinions of fellow woodworkers like you. Thanks again.
Ron Baird

-- Ron Baird, Pennsylvania, "WORK HARD, BE GOOD, HAVE FUN"

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2800 days

#5 posted 04-02-2012 06:43 PM

The warning on the side made my day. Thanks for sharing. The first picture really does not do the scale of this box justice. At first I thought is was about the size of a shoebox, then I saw the picture with your child. I think I would find myself sneeking it to play with the blocks when the kids weren’t looking.

Good choice on the handplanes…doing that with a jointer/planer would have been scary.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View balidoug's profile


493 posts in 2624 days

#6 posted 04-02-2012 07:09 PM

One other use, leaned from my daughter not so many years ago: the effects of gravity and acceleration, leaned by releasing one block directly over the head of sleeping father. Great use of odds and ends. I, too, have a growing collection I’m not willing to toss. You’re lucky you know someone of an age to appreciate them (though, like RG, I might sneak in for an hour of wreckreation when no one was looking).

-- From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. Immanuel Kant

View JoeinDE's profile


444 posts in 3468 days

#7 posted 04-02-2012 07:20 PM

Nicely done. I did the same thing, just on a much smaller scale for both of my nephews. Then a made another set for my kids. They are great toys until my 2 year old daughter decides to see what happens when she hits my 5 yr old son over the head with one.


View chodgson's profile


29 posts in 2829 days

#8 posted 04-02-2012 10:37 PM

I want to make some blocks for my own son and niece, and have been trying to decide whether to spend the money to make them out of hardwood or just to use spruce… the decision would be easier if I had an off-cut pile like that – some of your off-cuts look nicer than the wood I have on the rack :)

View lizardhead's profile


652 posts in 2987 days

#9 posted 04-03-2012 01:02 AM

That kid has a lot of building to do

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

View Helkat's profile


74 posts in 2441 days

#10 posted 04-03-2012 04:26 AM

Just the box itself is a really nice project!

The huge pile of blocks is great – it makes me want to start building a city…

-- Nat, UPstate NY,

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2505 days

#11 posted 01-12-2014 11:51 PM

This is awesome! I have a shop full of “blocks”...can’t wait to get started.

What did you use to finish?

Thanks in advance

-- Steve

View Cubby's profile


48 posts in 4284 days

#12 posted 01-15-2014 05:43 PM

I used merely a paste wax. Good luck.

-- Ron Baird, Pennsylvania, "WORK HARD, BE GOOD, HAVE FUN"

View helluvawreck's profile


32083 posts in 3012 days

#13 posted 01-15-2014 08:00 PM

Wow! What a wonderful collection of blocks and that storage box is so nicely done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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