The Evolution of an All-Wood Box Design – Part #2

This is a continuation, please refer to part #1 before you continue reading.

The last feature I talked about in the previous article would only work if the lid stayed closed. To insure that the lid didn’t come open unintentionally, I installed a spring clasp. To provide a means of opening the box, I made a small recess in the center of the front, which allowed room for the thumb hold on the lid. With this, the design was complete.

For the first box I used walnut for the lid and bottom, mahogany for the front, oak for the back and ends, and aromatic cedar for the partitions. I glued the unfinished cedar partitions into the box after I had finished it inside and out with two coats of tung oil. Thus, upon opening the box, one is met with a waft of cedar aroma. As a final touch, I lined the inside bottom of the box with green felt.

When the box was finished, my friend loved it, as did nearly everyone she showed it to. The popularity of this first box gave me the encouragement I needed to try to turn my woodworking hobby into a business, an idea I had been considering for some time. I began making batches of boxes and selling them at craft fairs. Building a large number of boxes over a couple of years has allowed me to develop my construction techniques and to make refinements on my design. I have also been able to produce boxes in variations of the original basic design.

For the first box I still used glue and screw constructions. FOr subsequent ones I bought clamps and developed a technique for exposed dowel joinery. I also replaced the spring clasp with small, flush mounted magnetic latches in each of the front corners. At first I tried to keep the gaps between the moving and stationary parts to a minimum. This looked great, but sometimes caused problems. When the humidity changed, the movement of some box lids became very stiff. Occasionally the top or bottom warped such that the end pieces met before the lid was fully closed, leaving an unsightly gap along the front of the box. Originally I had used shims made of waxed paper to set the gaps between the base and lid end pieces during assembly. Now I use shims of cardboard about 1/32″ thick, and the problems have been solved.

I have made relatively few boxes of the original design. The amount of work involved makes the price high (about $110). Also, its design specifically as a jewelry box limits its use and hence, its market. However, I have made many boxes of the same basic design ranging in size from just large enough to hold a small stack of business cards to slightly larger than the jewelry box (6″ x 11″ x 1 3/4″) and twice as deep. I now make four basic sizes. Most of these boxes have only one large compartment inside, making them suitable for a variety of uses. They are also made entirely of wood, since the magnetic lid closures are unnecessary in these applications. Occasionally, I install music movements in some of the deeper boxes.

To continue reading, please refer to part 3 of this guide.

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