My first Real Box

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Project by dansnow posted 09-20-2013 11:34 PM 1326 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

What a journey this was.
About 2 months ago I was approached by a friends sister about making a box for her sons birthday. I initially tried to say no as I hadn’t made a real box before, and some of the things she was asking for were not skills I possess, such as relief carving and that sort of thing. She wasn’t going to take no for an answer so after several discussions and design tweaks, I finally conceded and agreed to give it my best.

The theme of the box is the fantasy story Zelda. To achieve this I learned how to transfer a photo to wood using modge podge matt gel. Since the box was black walnut I needed to transfer the photo to a lighter piece of wood and then inlay that piece into the top. The front medallion and the songs on the ends of the box are cut from purple heart, as is the frame around the picture.

I considered a couple different methods of construction, but decided to start simple and went with mitered corners. My first practice box I made the top and bottom separately, which showed me why lots of folks build the box as one piece and then cut the top off. Works like a charm!!!

I learned how to shape the bottom and recess the hinge with a straight router bit, another first for me

It took me two dang days to get the hinge properly installed, but I finally beat it into submission.

The box has a simple removable tray. It’s 9” long, 6” wide and 5” deep. It’s finished with 5 coats of clear lacquer, rubbed with 0000 steel wool between coats. I still need to install the felt in the top and the bottom.

Overall I’m pleased with the final result, I learned a lot, and I really hope she and her son like it.

Thanks for looking, comments welcome.

-- Snow's Wooden Toys & Gifts

5 comments so far

View CFrye's profile


10419 posts in 1986 days

#1 posted 09-21-2013 01:15 AM

The purple heart and the walnut look great together Dan. The antiqued silver hasp compliments as well. I have a photo topped box on my To Do List. I glued the actual photo onto a piece of plywood and coated with Poly. Not sure how durable that will be. The only (tiny) critique I would venture would be that it is too bad you couldn’t match the hinge to the hasp. Still a great box. Thanks for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View dansnow's profile


312 posts in 1991 days

#2 posted 09-21-2013 01:24 AM

I did try to find a hinge to match the hasp, but no joy. I knew I wanted a piano hinge to make things easier than trying to align 2 separate hinges.

The picture is applied using this method video where the photo is applied to the wood, then the paper backing is rubbed off. It looks terrible until you hit it with a clear coat and all the haziness disappears!

-- Snow's Wooden Toys & Gifts

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3258 posts in 3255 days

#3 posted 09-21-2013 01:45 AM

Very nice for a first “real” box! This looks like about $400 worth of work, to me. I hope you collected.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 1970 days

#4 posted 09-21-2013 02:16 AM

Excellent job for a first real box Dan. The walnut looks great and the purple heart just ads to the beauty of the box.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View CFrye's profile


10419 posts in 1986 days

#5 posted 09-21-2013 03:26 AM

Frustrating when you can’t find what you want. Thanks for the video link. I have seen a similar process. I was just playing with the photos when I glued them to the plywood. Actually used Mod Podge under and over the image. The top layer peeled off after drying, that’s when I coated with poly.

-- God bless, Candy

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