Box Elder Topped Boxes

All it takes is some recycled pallet wood and a little imagination.

SHOP OWNER: Randy Burbank
LOCATION: Kimberly, ID

    The last Shop Shot I submitted was almost entirely of birdhouses. I had only been back into woodworking since January of 2002. This series of project photos is made up entirely of boxes. I tend to want to keep making something repeatedly either until I feel like I get it right or until I burn myself out and move on to something different. Box Elder Topped Boxes

    This first group of boxes (above and right) shows two very similar, but not identical, small boxes I made for a co-worker's wife and daughter. They measure 4 3/4" x 3 1/2" x 1 1/2" high. As best as I can tell, the sides are cherry and the inside is poplar. I'm not sure because the wood is from recycled pallets that I brought home from work. I believe the tops are box elder that came from Oregon. The keys in the corners are cocobolo. Lately, I pretty much give away everything I make. This doesn't pay very well, but it's a lot of fun.
Bandsawn Box

    The band-sawn box (left and below) is one I made for my wife. One Saturday morning I was looking at a big hunk of wood in my shop, which for years was used to chock the wheels of vehicles I worked on. For at least the last two years, this piece of wood had been outside. I began to wonder what it looked like inside, so I took it to my bandsaw and made a couple of cuts.
    The top, which is from a single piece of English walnut, is the result of an accident. I managed to ruin the original top while trying to rout a rabbet into it. My wife was quite thrilled with it. Bandsawn Box

Bandsawn Box

  Teardrop Box

    I made this box (below and right) for my daughter. She collaborated with me in the design. Actually, I told her that I was thinking of either a kidney shape or a teardrop shape. She said to go for the teardrop shape. She said she wanted it hinged. I really didn't want to hinge the lid but bowed to her wishes.
    I made the box from glued up pieces of curly maple, which I got from another pallet! I still have about a six foot long piece of this stuff that's two inches by four inches. As you can see, I really did not attempt to hide the nail holes or other defects left from its former life as a pallet. Teardrop Box

    I nearly threw this one on the burn pile at one point. While trying to excavate the interior, I had two mishaps. First, my template shifted while excavating the bottom with the router. I patched this with some sawdust and epoxy. Then my router guide collar, a cheap plastic version, broke while excavating out the top half and I nearly cut right through the edge. I really didn't want to show the inside here but then you would only have my word that it was indeed a box!
    The only thing that stopped me from throwing it away was a story that I had read about a well-known woman woodworker who specializes in band-sawn boxes. While being interviewed for an article, the interviewer noticed a box in the room that looked like one of hers, but wasn't really up to her usual standards. The interviewer asked her about the box, and the artist said something like, "that's the very first one I ever made. I keep it to remind myself of how far I have come."
Teardrop Box

    I made these for my boss' wife and daughter. The design came from a book that I purchased on box making. Both boxes are made almost entirely of pallet wood. Only the lid of the box on the right is not from a pallet.
Teardrop Box

    I used the spray-on velvet lining system to line the bottom. Although I liked the results, I felt as if the process was more work than it was worth because the stuff takes forever to dry. I guess it helped me develop patience and character and the ladies seemed to be quite happy with the boxes.

. . . Randy Burbank



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