Stella's Box

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Project by PDK posted 01-06-2013 10:18 AM 2569 views 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So this is my first post and first project – my “freshman effort” if you will. As you can see it’s a simple sliding top box made out of walnut, curly maple, and wenge, and finished using 2 coats of tung oil with maroon felt on the bottom of the interior.

The purpose of this box was simple: our new cat, Stella (who is posing next to her item in one of the photos), has a skin condition that requires her to take anthistamines twice a day as we hide in some wet food (Fancy Feast). I got tired of seeing the ugly spoon and plastic pill box just lying around on the counter and thought it might be nice to create a more elegant solution.

As you can tell, it’s a pretty simple box cut with an elevated bottom – “stilts” if you will. I did this in case there was ever any standing water on the on kitchen counter, then the whole bottom wouldn’t be submerged and it would be easier to clean. So it rests on these stilts. The wenge piece which slides back and forth is sandwiched between two pieces of curly maple. I ran a thin bullnose router cut across the bottom of the tab, which gives your finger some natural leverage when pulling back on the top.

This was essentially version 2.0 of the box as version 1.0 crashed and burned slightly. I’m also learning very quickly that woodworking seems to be as much about problem solving as it is about preplanning. I learned plenty in failing with version 1.0 of this box, and have even been able to resurrect that attempt from the ashes to assemble a simple trinket box for my daughter.

I’m finding out very quickly how difficult it is working with smaller pieces of wood, and learning the support tolerances necessary to make a solid piece. I probably started with too small of a project and should have attempted a larger piece, but I was eager to begin and felt compelled to do something that served a broader purpose.

As an aside, let me say that after scanning the projects daily on this site for the past month, I’m simply amazed at the skill, craftsmanship, and detail all of you put into your work. There are a number of projects where I sit stunned and wonder “how in the hell did he do that?” There are a couple that I swear would take me one lifetime just to figure it out, and then another lifetime to attempt to build it. So in short, I have a huge degree of respect and admiration for everyone building and posting on this website. I certainly welcome any and all critiques as I’m trying to improve quickly and apply some of the massive knowledgebase and astounding talent captured on this website.

-- - The day I stop learning is the day I stop living.

13 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30047 posts in 2535 days

#1 posted 01-06-2013 11:01 AM

Yes, we put in skill and craftsmanship. Many of us add blood and mistakes. You said you learned from it, then there was numerous benefits to the project.

Welcome to LJ’s, it’s a great place to be

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View staryder's profile


174 posts in 2236 days

#2 posted 01-06-2013 12:46 PM

Great job and Welcome to LJ’s!!!

Everyone of us has looked thru your eyes at the quality of workmanship displayed on these pages. It is truley amazing to see some of them. Yours included as it shares its existance to inspire someone to make something they themselves can be proud of and display as well. I make alot of boxes along the same lines as yours. I dado the back end to allow the lid to slide into and by rabbiting the top side I can use a thicker top and aleviate the thru cut slot for the top to enter the front of the box. Another thing it took me awhile to figure out is that when covering the bottom floor with material I also use dados to insert the bottom into and make it so that the material goes into the dado so that it will never come out and it is much easier since you dont have to try to slide it down into the box post gluing. To hold my boxes shut I use 3/16 cylindar rare earth magnets pressed into holes drilled into the bottom of the top front edge of the lid and the front top of the box where the lid slides. If they are turned the right direction and are drilled slightly off center they will pull the box lid shut. Good luck Thanks for sharing and keep posting…..

-- Rick.... Fort Worth, Texas

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3053 days

#3 posted 01-06-2013 12:57 PM

Great wee box
Look forward to your next project
welcome to LJ’s

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 2977 days

#4 posted 01-06-2013 01:36 PM


Wonderful project, nicely done.

Welcome to LumberJocks.

I really like your lid-through-the-end design. I make a lot of sliding lid boxes, mostly of the presentation sort, for the various types of puzzles like to make. I’ll be adding your design to my list of box design references.

Thanks for posting and Welcome again.


View PDK's profile


46 posts in 2164 days

#5 posted 01-06-2013 02:07 PM

Rick: Great tips – thank you for sharing them. I did run dado/rabbett cuts at the ends of the bottom – I guess I didn’t take a good pic of them, but it does appear in ever so subtly in the photo where the 3-sides are opened and exposed. The bottom fit quite snuggly when it was rough-assembled, and after anchoring the felt and wedging it in there, it might take a small nuclear blast for it to dislodge. I like your magnet tip – I will implement that next time I do a sliding lid box.

Russ: I contemplated securing (gluing) small pieces of maple (1/2” wide) to the underside and top of the lid to prevent it from sliding all the way out. I decided against it because it would cover up more of the wenge, which I love as an accent. Given that you have created a number of sliding top boxes, I have to ask if you ever implement some “device” to keep the lid from sliding out all the way?

Back to the drawing board and “shop.”


-- - The day I stop learning is the day I stop living.

View DanoP's profile


135 posts in 2536 days

#6 posted 01-06-2013 02:41 PM

Welcome to LJs!

Well done on the box. It looks like you have a true “eye” for contrast and layout and (in my opinion) most important, functionality. I look forward to seeing more of your posts.

Key phrase to remember: “You know honey, I could make one of those for you much better and way cheaper if I only had a—-(insert the name of any tool here).

-- We've got enough youth. Let's search for a fountain of smart.

View MrLaughingbrook's profile


151 posts in 2164 days

#7 posted 01-06-2013 05:07 PM

I like the top design, through the side. Agreed that problem solving is much more fun than preplanning :) I usually find myself with a project part way done and no idea where to go next. I sit around with clipboard and paper between each phase.

-- MrLaughingbrook

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

6222 posts in 3549 days

#8 posted 01-06-2013 07:36 PM

A Spectacular freshman effort! I wouldn’t of known!
Welcome to Lumberjock’s!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2887 days

#9 posted 01-07-2013 02:41 AM

Nice and functional box. Love the sliding lid going through the end piece. Now you know the secret: simple little boxes…...aren’t!

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

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2684 days

#10 posted 01-07-2013 03:55 AM

Square boxes of any size can be a bugger.
I’m playing with one now I made 2 years ago and never finished, but it started moving shortly after I built it and now I’m trying to finish it.

One suggestion I have is that on the bottom make feet instead of runners along the front/back or the sides. This means to cut out everything between the front back and sides except for the corners.

This way it will sit level no matter how unlevel most surfaces are.

It really looks great to me otherwise! I may steal this idea and reuse it!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2370 days

#11 posted 01-07-2013 05:08 PM

Nice work on the dovetail. Wonderfully made!

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View PDK's profile


46 posts in 2164 days

#12 posted 01-07-2013 07:59 PM


Great tip on the “feet” – thanks, I’ll definitely incorporate that at some point going forward. I thought about it for this project, but was a bit nervous about taking away more of the solid surface given its relatively diminutive stature.

-- - The day I stop learning is the day I stop living.

View mountiangirl's profile


5 posts in 1734 days

#13 posted 03-11-2014 01:54 PM

wow, beautiful!

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