Boxguy: Holds His Cards, Will Owe His Wood

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Project by Boxguy posted 01-14-2013 07:06 AM 2396 views 3 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Pictured is a box (10 3/4 x 5 x 5 1/2) designed to hold 8 decks of playing cards. The sides are crafted from an especially light colored piece of Black Cherry from Spencer, Indiana and the top and corner splines are European Willow from Western Asia. (Hence the title “will ow wood”) Willow is a delightful wood. The glowing soft yellow color makes a great contrast with cherry. The corner splines are a low level contrast with the cherry.

This box features removable dividers, a full length mortised hinge, a pencil holder, and room for a score pad to lay on top of the decks. An alternative use is as a small tea box for about 25 foil-sealed tea bags. Of course the dividers can be removed and you can use the box any way you would like. It is finished with one coat of tung oil, two coats of wipe-on poly, and a final coat of wax. Clicking on any of the blue words above will take you to a tutorial on that topic.

Focus: I want to again stress the importance of making boxes that serve a particular purpose. I made four of these with various styles and woods for a recent opening at a local gallery. To my surprise they were some of the first to sell. If you host a bridge club, play games with multiple decks, or want to have several kinds of card game decks stored in one place…this box works great. This style of box sells well or makes a nice gift for a card-playing friend.

Techniques: The dividers pictured in image 5 are made from recycled Venetian blinds. The front and back inserts are cut at the same time after being masking taped together. The pencil holder is a routed cove sitting close to the front side. I found it was much easier to not glue the dividers in at all. I cut the dividers a little short, slid the whole unit: (front and back inserts, and dividers) into the box and then spread the inserts apart. The dividers fit snugly, and it was easy to get the unit to fit tightly inside the box.

Thanks: I appreciate all of you who take time to look and have a special appreciation of all who make comments and ask questions. I make it a point to respond to all comments and questions so check back to see how I replied to what you wrote to me.

-- Big Al in IN

17 comments so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18389 posts in 3875 days

#1 posted 01-14-2013 07:11 AM

Another masterpiece! you are the box guy for sure ;-)

-- 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


2760 posts in 2467 days

#2 posted 01-14-2013 09:46 AM

Topamax, thanks for the kind words. Having you respond so quickly at 2:00 in the morning is like reeling in a 10 pound bass on your first cast of the day. Hope you get some sleep too.

-- Big Al in IN

View balidoug's profile


495 posts in 2678 days

#3 posted 01-14-2013 10:59 AM

Focus and technique
Light playing on moving grain
Box guy wins the pot

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

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2712 days

#4 posted 01-14-2013 11:17 AM

A very nice box big Al, and as TS said a masterpiece, you also managed to unclog a project that had gotten way lost in the back of my mind, my mom had given me an very…. old set of dominos awhile back in which the box had deteriorated due to the age, they now rest in a plastic bag, that’s no place for an old set of dominos right? :) I need to make a box for them, also I’m thinking of giving your finishing method a shot on several boxes I have ready.

A touch on your Focus paragraph, you hit the nail on the head with that one, I also seem to be doing better with my jewelry, theme (example: cupcake) and valet boxes then any of my other boxes without concrete purpose and even more so with the valet boxes, my thoughts here are that women are more prone to buy for their husbands/boyfriends then guys are readily app to spend for their wife’s/girlfriends these are just my thoughts, ladies are shoppers men aren’t. Business has picked up for me and getting better orders are rolling in and I just got another order in last night for a special valet box to her specs for her husband, of course I had to give her my special order price :).

Side note; valentines is just around the corner time to switch up box making. :)

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View Boxguy's profile


2760 posts in 2467 days

#5 posted 01-14-2013 12:37 PM

First Set Of Replies:

Doug, what a delightful haiku. Thanks for that. It even stays within the posting’s theme. Here is one that came to me this past week as I watched a winter day out our windows.

House, bird, wind, and tree…
All contend to own this land.
Only wind can smile.

Randy, thanks for the thoughtful reply. As to why purpose-driven boxes sell well…here is my take. I think it is the current economy driving a need for purpose. We are all being more careful with our money. At around $175 buying a box is not an “impulse item” for many people. This is a difficult time to sell pure art. However, if it is pretty and serves a purpose or need then it falls into a different category for buyers. It becomes a “practical purchase.” A purpose-driven box is “something they can really use” instead of just something pretty to give. If a box can be both…it can be sold.

Looking forward to seeing your posting of the Domino box. Coming from you, it can’t be pine boards stapled together. I am really glad your sales are going well. I got some nice checks from the gallery this past year. I plan to change those checks into tools. Once my hip mends, I’ll be back playing in the shop again.

-- Big Al in IN

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 3986 days

#6 posted 01-14-2013 12:54 PM

Very appealing functional art form. I like the way the hinge seems near exact sizing of the interior width. Do you cut the hinges to size or buy them that size?

View Roger's profile


20952 posts in 3004 days

#7 posted 01-14-2013 01:58 PM

You cover all the bases for sure Al. Super nice and functional, as always.

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

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

6223 posts in 3552 days

#8 posted 01-14-2013 02:25 PM

Another well thought out Big Al. I like boxes with a particular purpose. I like the soft rounded edges and the removable separator. It will make cleaning the inside much easier. With the mortised hinge and the corner splines this box shold last a life time. The wood tone colors are pleasing to the eye.
This is a beautiful box Al.

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

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18389 posts in 3875 days

#9 posted 01-14-2013 03:44 PM

Boxguy, It wasin’t 2 AM here ;-))

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

View DocSavage45's profile


8722 posts in 3042 days

#10 posted 01-14-2013 05:21 PM

Nice piece. Glad they are finding a home…other than yours…LOL


-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Boxguy's profile


2760 posts in 2467 days

#11 posted 01-14-2013 08:32 PM

Second Set of Replies:

Ratchet, the short answer is, “Yes.” I cut the hinges to fit each box. I start with a 4 foot long piano hinge. If you would, please click on the words “hinge” and “mortised” in the first paragraph. These links will take you to a tutorial on cutting hinges and installing them. There are some techniques in this link that may help you and others.

Roger, always good to hear from you. Your observation is correct I do believe in function, but appearance helps drive sales.

Woodshaver, thanks for taking time and thought to do such a careful critique of this work. I really strive to keep my interior designs flexible and consumer friendly. I am trying to make heritage boxes that will give dependable service for a generation or more. With modern glues, and finishes I might have a chance. I have found that well rounded corners wear well and don’t have the dents that square corners are prone to with daily use. I also love the way a carefully matched grain flows around the corners of the box. Piano hinges remove most of the stresses endured by hinges on boxes.

Your Lego Table is a great design. I may need to copy that soon for my 2-year-old grandson.

Topa, oops on my part…thanks for the feedback. The question then becomes what was I thinking at 2:00?

Doc., my boxes do find homes, and satisfy customers. This week a friend told me she uses a box I made every day and loves using it. That comment was everything I wanted to hear…and it made my day.

-- Big Al in IN

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2373 days

#12 posted 01-14-2013 09:57 PM

Charming and admirable piece! You must be proud to yourself!

-- "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 tomd's profile


2175 posts in 3970 days

#13 posted 01-15-2013 01:44 AM

Very nice looking box, excellent workmanship.

-- Tom D

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3702 days

#14 posted 01-15-2013 02:08 AM

All Aces Al!!
Yet another superlative effort my Friend, you make it look easy!!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Boxguy's profile


2760 posts in 2467 days

#15 posted 01-15-2013 03:33 AM

Third Set Of Replies:

Surf, thanks. I work at making boxes that function and are attractive.

Tom, thanks. Coming from someone like you who does such exacting work that is a real compliment.

Mike, almost all Lumberjocks could do what I do with the right tools, instructions, and some patience. It is not magic; just paying close attention to fingers and details.

-- Big Al in IN

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