An "exercise in fundamentals" pencil box.

  • Advertise with us
Project by Gabe C. posted 04-12-2012 08:32 PM 9250 views 7 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As I am trying to round up all the loose things in my garage workshop, building boxes and shelves when needed, and giving everything a home…I have lately been turning my attention to the worktable/desk that I have built up against the wall and all the things scattered about the top. A lot of times, on top and under and around the stacks of tools and papers and random hardware that accumulates on top of it, are a family of pencils and pens and markers. An infestation really, of writing devices. I thought they needed a proper home.

So I got the simple box joint sled off the shelf that I made a couple of weeks ago and pulled out a scrap piece of red oak that I had leftover from another project, and made a little box. I tell you what, my little Dewalt table saw is the Rodney Dangerfield of my workshop. It is so vital to what is going on, and gets absolutely no respect…because I need to sharpen some blades...and probably invest in a better Dado Set. Recommendations are very welcome!

But I digress. So I went ahead with cutting the sides and then cutting the box joints and dados, and if I have remembered one thing through looking and learning from the people here on Lumberjocks, it’s that ”Zero Clearance” is the only way to go. Going through the process of getting the box joints right with a couple of test pieces, I set my blades too high and cut out a little too much of back fence on the sled. So then when I went to cut the joints on the actual pieces for the boxes…a little too much oak busted out of the back as I finished each cut. Ugh. Turns out it wasn’t a problem too tough for a scrap piece of 1/4 inch luan placed between the fence and the work piece, to act as a temporary zero clearance fence.

And then when you’re gluing up a box like this with inserts, is it easier to glue up the outside and then slide the inserts in, or do you start from one side and glue and add pieces (outside and inside) until the box is complete? I had a hair’s width of play in my inserts, and as I was gluing it together, the glue was a bit set up by the time I had the whole thing together, so my inserts are a bit off kilter if you look straight down at it (It takes me a bit of time during glue ups because I am messy and use a lot of “wipe-up” time during the process). I wonder if I were to have glued the box together and then slid the inserts in…would enough glue be on the edges of the inserts to firmly dry and keep them in place…or would the glue be wiped off as I slide them in and thereby not hold as well? I know that I will probably only use Titebond 3 from now on, due to the longer “open” time of it.

And I don’t think that I am going to put a finish on this. Something about raw sanded wood is a bit appealing to me, and this isn’t going to get a lot of weather or wear anyway, being a pencil holder.

Just a simple project in the ongoing process of skill refinement. All comments, suggestions and criticisms are welcome. Thanks for checking it out!

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

9 comments so far

View Enoelf's profile


192 posts in 2412 days

#1 posted 04-12-2012 08:44 PM

Looks like a perfect little pencil/pen holder to me! Ain’t it great what you can do with a bit o’ scrap now and then?
Thanks for sharing.
Well done.

-- Central Ohio, Still got 9 and 15/16 fingers!

View helluvawreck's profile


32083 posts in 3016 days

#2 posted 04-12-2012 09:16 PM

Nice clean box. Good work.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View michiganmark's profile


82 posts in 3213 days

#3 posted 04-12-2012 09:34 PM

Seems like my “mistake” boxes turn into pen/pencil holders….I have plenty! Anyways, nice project!

-- Michiganmark, I dream in wood......I'll blame it on my grandfather

View lew's profile


12329 posts in 3904 days

#4 posted 04-13-2012 12:47 AM

Nice tight box joints!

Seems like now matter how sharp the blade, red oak is going to splinter and tear out.

My dado is an old Delta stacked 8” set. Works well but there may be better ones out there.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2839 days

#5 posted 04-13-2012 01:07 AM

Gabe, Nice job. I would glue up the box the add the dividers with a dab of glue in the dados. My choice for cutting clean box joint are the Freud box joint set. A little pricey but well worth it for me. Mine have been used a lot on some really tough woods and remain like new sharp and they cut very clean with perfectly flat bottoms. I usually use an 1/8” backer board to minimize tear out.I also pin a lot of my box joints and don’t use any glue at all. Hope these were the type of comments you asked for.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Gabe C.'s profile

Gabe C.

288 posts in 2490 days

#6 posted 04-13-2012 01:28 AM

Thanks guys!

I have a really cheap dado set and don’t quite have the money for another one, but I have read a lot of good things about Freud saw blades. I am going to look into those. I need to do some research on blades and find out which ones are best for different cuts, which stay sharp, what it takes to re-sharpen them, etc.

And I really am very impressed with the holding power of wood glue with every project, but I’m just not as confident about it as I probably should be. I think if I were to make another one of these, I might glue up the box first, let that dry, and then cut and glue the inserts. Good idea, GFADVM. Maybe make an additional one to throw around the garage, you know…stress test.

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

View pastorglen's profile


267 posts in 2839 days

#7 posted 04-13-2012 01:28 AM

That’s really nice. It gives me some ideas with some of the scraps I’ve got in the shop.


-- Glen, Pennsylvania, Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."

View majuvla's profile


13071 posts in 3016 days

#8 posted 04-13-2012 03:07 AM

It’s verry nice,simple and usefull box.Worth of tuing to do simillar.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Roger's profile


20949 posts in 2953 days

#9 posted 04-13-2012 11:01 PM

nice little project for box joints. very nice

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

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics