One of my main interests while learning various types of woodworking is Boxes. I’ve been a collector of decorative boxes since I was a kid. And as soon as I started working with tools and began to look at ways to make boxes. I don’t know why but they fascinate me. The form is simple but the construction can be quite complex if you chose or simple with clean lines.
One of the first boxes I made was made on the scroll saw. That you could make boxes on the scroll saw was a complete surprise to me until I stumbled across instructions in a magazine. I began to look at a variety of books and saw that there were in fact many different kinds and styles of boxes that can be made on the scroll saw. A good source is a book by Carole Rothman entitled Creative Wooden Boxes from the Scroll Saw: 28 Useful & Surprisingly Easy-to-Make Projects.
One of the things I liked best about making boxes on the scroll saw is that you can cut the carcass, bottom and top simultaneously making it easier to ensure a snug fit. In addition, the scroll saw encourages patterns and fine filigree work that enhance the overall design of the boxes. Naturally you are limited by the depth of the throat of your particular scroll saw. You cannot make extremely large boxes but you are not limited to tiny ones either.
Heart Shaped box made on the scroll saw
Scroll Saw Box
The next unexpected tool that allows you to make boxes that can be both beautiful and functional is the lathe. You can turn both the carcass and the lid on your lathe and make different styles and sizes of boxes that have a beautiful form and style. The book; Turning Boxes with Richard Raffanis a great source of instruction and inspiration. Raffan’s books are well illustrated and his instructions are easy to follow and always give great results.
Turning boxes has its challenges in that you must make a lid that fits precisely. Some turners use an accessory on their lathe which allows them to thread the lid and box for a screw fit. Others make a lid that forms a suction fit by fitting snugly over a lip extending from the interior of the box.
The lathe allows a variety of shapes and sizes where form does not always follow function. I have not yet made a box worthy of this blog and will continue practicing until I have mastered this type of turning.
I have however made several boxes using the more traditional tools such as the table saw. Mastering cutting at 45 degree angles was the first step. I have mastered the utilitarian wooden box build to store tools and other items in a workshop. From there, making finer pieces to be used for decoration or storage, or both is the logical next step. Box-Making Basics: Design, Technique, Projects by David Freeman is a great place to start.
Whatever tool you use, there are an endless variety of boxes to be made and techniques to be mastered. My fascination with boxes has not subsided however my collecting has stopped due to lack of space. Boxes I make now, must have a purpose and they are destined to become a gift.