What Size Should a Box Be?

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Forum topic by MHarper90 posted 12-01-2013 01:59 AM 1444 views 4 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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91 posts in 1110 days

12-01-2013 01:59 AM

Topic tags/keywords: box ribbon bow wood size christmas gift

I know it’s a very vague question, but with Christmas fast approaching, I wanted to make all of the gifts I will be giving this year. I finally found a great hardwood supplier and I picked up some 8/4 Black Walnut, Hard Maple, and Purple Heart, and some 4/4 Cherry to mess around with.

I would really like to try my hand at the fancy ribbon/bow boxes I’ve seen around. They look awesome and show off some woodworking skill and allow great use of multiple species of wood without being so large and expensive.

My concern is that I have no idea how big of a box to make?! None of the recipients (my mother or grandmother) are big enough into jewelry to warrant a jewelry box. What else would they put in such a box or what are some idea of inexpensive items I could put in the box to give it a purpose? The purpose of the box will greatly dictate the size, and that’s where I need to start out. If I can’t find any concrete answer my first thought is to start with a cigar box dimension.

Any and all input is greatly appreciated!

10 replies so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

21579 posts in 1761 days

#1 posted 12-01-2013 03:51 AM

I would say that average dimensions here are 10-12 inches long, 8 inches deep and 4-6 inches tall.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Texcaster's profile


1103 posts in 1097 days

#2 posted 12-01-2013 05:48 AM

like the glass half full, you don’t want the box to be 50% larger than required.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View Gary's profile


8965 posts in 2856 days

#3 posted 12-01-2013 12:35 PM

Even if it’s not jewelry, they will find a use for the box. Trinkets, keep-sake items….. it will be used. Monte gave you a standard size. They will appreciate it whatever the size

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2390 posts in 2345 days

#4 posted 12-01-2013 02:06 PM

I make and sell about 350 boxes a year. Most I make, and sell, are 11” x 8” x 2 1/2” deep. Some folks prefer smaller boxes so I make some 8” x 8”. I make my bow boxes 6” x6” and sell them as gift boxes. I suggest to prospective buyers that they could fill it with homemade candy and give as a gift. I have made bow boxes in many sizes but I like the look of a square box 6”x6”.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

View Danpaddles's profile


550 posts in 1735 days

#5 posted 12-01-2013 02:14 PM

I say, what they use it for is up to them. You can not guess what another person might want a box for. One box I know of, holds photos.m One holds hammers, like you use for a hammer dulcimer. One has G’pa’s ashes (okay, I made a few accommodations on that one).

My wife has two jewelry boxes, one holds jewelry, the other has finger nail polish, emery boards, and such.

Use the wood to it’s best advantage, let your scrap pile decide what you make. And don’t discourage swapping, My boxes have been traded one for another. And there is nothing wrong with a small box- just make sure you make it right, tight joints, lid fits right, nice finish. People will pick it up, they will see your quality.

-- Dan V. in Indy

View MHarper90's profile


91 posts in 1110 days

#6 posted 12-01-2013 02:56 PM

Thanks for the ideas everybody!

I will probably go for a rectangular box, maybe a little smaller footprint, but a little taller than a cigar box. That should be useful around the house or even as a candy dish for company or something. I bought some cherry shorts at the lumber store yesterday for a great price, so maybe I’ll see what maximizes that lumber the best.

I love the idea of a gift box, because it could then be used as a miscellaneous box after the gift is given, but the other gift I’m going to be making for my mother is a large end grain cutting board/butcher block. I definitely think those dimensions for a wooden ribbon/bow box are out of the question.

I appreciate everyone’s help (and anyone else who posts later) and can’t wait to post these projects once they are done.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16229 posts in 3641 days

#7 posted 12-01-2013 03:04 PM

I’ve made a lot of boxes in many different sizes, but the ones that look most elegant to my eye are usually on the smaller side (around 10” x 6” x 4” tall).

More important than final size, IMO, is the proportion of box size to lumber thickness. For boxes up to a foot or so in length, I don’t like to use material thicker than 1/2”. It just looks to chunky in most cases. If you have the capability to plane or resaw your lumber, I would consider that option.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View MHarper90's profile


91 posts in 1110 days

#8 posted 12-01-2013 03:21 PM

Thanks Charlie! I like the size you mentioned, also I totally agree with your idea on proportions. I’ve seen a few very small boxes made out of 3/4 and to me it detracts from the craftsmanship and elegance of the bow if the stock is too big.

The cherry I bought is 4/4 rough cut, and I definitely have the tools to mill it down. I have never attempted a true resaw on the bandsaw we have in the shop at work (that’s where I do my woodworking in the evenings), so I’m not sure I could get two good pieces out of the 4/4, so I’ll either plane it down or buy something thinner if I can’t bring myself to waste that much material. At $3/board foot, I guess it’s not as bad as planing away walnut or something.

View Tommy Evans's profile

Tommy Evans

137 posts in 1597 days

#9 posted 12-01-2013 03:23 PM

here are 3 different calculators for the golden ratio.
Charlie, 10×6x4 is of the golden mean, but you prolly already knew that….

View TheWoodenBoxes's profile


42 posts in 1079 days

#10 posted 12-01-2013 04:06 PM

Just go with the flow. If they are into certain things make it has big as the items. If not, make it what ever size you want and they will find things to fill it.

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