Boxguy's El'phunt Holder

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Project by Boxguy posted 06-29-2012 02:04 AM 2014 views 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Pictured: This is a box designed to hold alphabet blocks for my grandson. It is 14 inches long, 9 inches wide and 6 inches tall. The sides and internal dividers are Makore from a tree in West Africa. The top and corner splines are Movingui from a tree that grew on a sunny hillside in Ghana, Africa.

Story: Many of us lucky enough to have children in our lives know the joy of watching them grow, learn, and play. At 18 months, my grandson is learning his colors, letters, and animals. At the moment what he knows is ahead of what he can say clearly. So, “elephant” is now “el’phunt.” If you are the boxguy, it is only logical that you make him a box for his upcoming birthday…so I did.

I can’t claim credit for the elephant carving on the top. I bought it at a shop in Santa Monica, CA, while we were there on vacation. It just looked like something my grandson would love. My thanks to the anonymous Indonesian carver who made it. Likewise, the detailed wooden blocks came from Toys R Us. I would like to make the point that it is possible to combine your talents with other artist’s talents and make something working together that you could not create working separately. Last year I worked up a whole show of “Teamwork Boxes” and had great fun doing it.

By the way, look closely at the front of the box in the 6th picture. Does that look like an eye or what? Isn’t wood grain surprising?

Techniques: Makore is a dream to work with, and it even smells good when you cut it. I recessed the carving by making the edges a little higher, and after much thought decided to screw it on from the inside. The carving may not make it through childhood, but the box might. So I thought I’d make the carving removable in the hopes that the box will be repurposed later. I also added thin corner splines near the top and bottom to make the box a little stronger and reinforce the weakest points.

Thanks: As always, thanks for looking and a special thanks to all you Lumber Jocks who take the time to make comments and suggestions. Your support helps keep me playing in my shop.

-- Big Al in IN

14 comments so far

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 3342 days

#1 posted 06-29-2012 02:14 AM

That is beautiful wood and design. Those are woods i have never had a chance to use. You did a good job with them. Great idea to start early on letters and sounds. I love getting 2nd graders who can read well.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View nomercadies's profile


590 posts in 2576 days

#2 posted 06-29-2012 02:34 AM

Now you have to do the other party … don’t you? ... and one for Ron Paul?
On another note, really good stuff again. Thank you.

-- Chance Four "Not Just a Second Chance"

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30141 posts in 2575 days

#3 posted 06-29-2012 02:40 AM

You make your boxes look effortless. Extremely nice work. Great personal touch.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2425 days

#4 posted 06-29-2012 02:46 AM

Nice box ! BTW, most accounts of makore I have seen warn of its potential health effects, including damage to the blood and central nervous system. Also, it has a high silica content which means it dulls cutting edges quickly; carbide recommended !

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18423 posts in 3913 days

#5 posted 06-29-2012 03:41 AM

You did good Boxguy ;-) I’m sure there are hours of fun in that box.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Boxguy's profile


2779 posts in 2505 days

#6 posted 06-29-2012 04:53 AM

Robert, he seems really bright, but of course I can’t be too objective.

Nomer, I thought about the political implications…but decided that the elephant was more of a totem than symbol.

Montie, if you knew how long it takes me to hand sand and final finish a box you would re-assess the “effortless.” However a good planer, duel drum sander, and work stations sure do speed up the process.

Monte, thanks for that information. I have lots of dust collectors and work with the 16 by 12 foot door open, but your advice is well taken. I didn’t know that about makore.

Topamax, I already have had hours of fun out of this box.

-- Big Al in IN

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3540 days

#7 posted 06-29-2012 11:53 AM

a beautiful box for your grandson, i like the ele funt on the top, you should venture into some carving, some of it is not that hard…might give a challange to the box guy…lol…..very nice woods, very appropriate for the occasion, there could be a a whole grandson series ….think of the possibilities…..:)........grizz

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

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4217 days

#8 posted 06-29-2012 12:06 PM

Hi Big Al,

That is a beautiful el’phunt box.

Great job.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 3356 days

#9 posted 06-29-2012 12:15 PM

Nice Box Big Al, the carving is perfect for the box and it’s purpose, making through childhood for a box can be difficult, caryons and markers can some of the least of worries, Great job on this, thanks for sharing

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View Roger's profile


20965 posts in 3041 days

#10 posted 06-29-2012 12:26 PM

Super nice big Al. Really like the way you did the opener. He’s gonna really like this

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

View dustyal's profile


1299 posts in 3712 days

#11 posted 06-29-2012 01:46 PM

It is staring at me! Yes, nice eye!

Very well done design and build. ah, so much for me to learn, so little time.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View Boxguy's profile


2779 posts in 2505 days

#12 posted 06-29-2012 02:21 PM

Grizz, I gave him a box for his first birthday as well. So, the series is on.

Lee, thanks.

Mick, yes it is a perilous journey, but I hope some of the boxes make it through childhood…but if they don’t it is how it goes.

Roger, at this point he likes slamming the lid and getting out the blocks.

Al H., thanks for noticing the eye. It seems the process of learning, which I see in my grandson, never ends in any of us if we are just curious enough.

-- Big Al in IN

View stefang's profile


16209 posts in 3571 days

#13 posted 07-02-2012 10:16 AM

Charming box and if it survives your grandson it may become a family heirloom.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View maplerock's profile


529 posts in 2037 days

#14 posted 06-22-2013 02:10 AM

I think this will be a cherished keepsake. Beautiful.

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

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