Make Summer Camp: Wooden Box

OK.  I think my wooden box is terrible. It is without doubt, the worst wooden box I’ve ever made.  The joints are terrible, the glue-work is awful, the foam cut-outs inside to hold the sickle are misshapen, and the job I did of gluing in the linen fabric is singularly awful.

Sickle box: processOn the other hand, I’ve never made a wooden box at all before. And so this one, while pretty bad, is without doubt the worst such box I will ever make. Every box I make beyond this one will be better. First things first.  I cut what are known as lap joints for the corners of this box.  This isn’t bad, but I’m clearly inexperienced at doing so.  They didn’t fit right at all.  Second, I was hurrying.  Hurry is never a good thing in Maker work, especially the first time through a project like this.  It would have been better to take the time to cut the laps correctly, and then size the lid and bottom of the box even more accurately. Wooden box

Second, I made use of the cheapest working hardware I could find for this box.  Both hinges together appear to be white metal electroplated with brass—there’s little ‘there’, there.  The same with the latches on the sides of the box: these are hole-and-pin latches, where a hole on a tongue is meant to interact with a button on a brass plate.  Except that the buttons are barely more than raised points, and the latches don’t interact with the buttons.  The cheap hinges mean that the box bottom and lid also wobble.

Ok, let’s face it.  The hinges wobble not because of the poor hinges. They wobble because I’m a poor craftsman, and I’ve never cut a good lap-joint before. I’ve especially never cut four sets for top and and bottom that have to be tight, and square.

Heavy sigh.  Another ________ing opportunity for growth.

Wooden boxOn the other hand, the attachment of the linen went … Ok. Linen is a difficult material to work with.  It doesn’t really obey any rules except its own, which appear to be limited to “look beautiful… and avoid doing anything that a human Maker is trying to make it do to behave or conform to a given plan.”  I hate it already.  

I bought enough of this linen fabric to make myself a medieval/Viking linen tunic, and a matching pair of pants or trousers.  Just working with this little of the fabric, though, makes me rethink my plan quite a bit, or at least hesitate.  The edges of this fabric, when cut, have a tendency to unravel, as if it was not quite held together correctly on the loom.  Some of this is a side effect of cutting it, I’m sure.  Or maybe it’s a side effect of how I cut it.  Or maybe it’s as a result of how I go about working with it.  Suffice it to say, I’m not sure how I feel about this material any more.  It’s not the sort of thing that behaves well, and I get frustrated with it quite easily.  As usual, though, the solution is going to be to work with this material more, rather than get frustrated with it.
Wooden box

I spent some time at school today in the DesignLab, butchering a piece of hard foam.  It’s not exactly styrofoam, but it’s heavier and denser than aerogel, for sure.  It’s not packing-peanuts material, either.  Under this linen are two pieces of foam, cut and shaped to allow a divot in which the sickle rests.  Initially I cut this foam quite cleanly in half, and put one half in the top of the box, one half in the bottom.  They fit perfectly — but then the box wouldn’t close.  I needed to do a hack job on both pieces to get them both below the lip of their half of the box, in order to have the box close correctly.  Then, I needed to do a bit more trimming, so that the fabric would fit around and on top of them.  The glue job was awful.

That said, the box does what it needs to do, for now.  I’ll want to make it again at some point, and better.  But as you can see, this box holds the sickle which I’ll be using for my Druidic work in the DOGD, and it will hold it close and protect it from negative aetheric influences in the right way, without making it so the point shoves through the edges of a bag.  At some point I should make a sheath of leather for it.  But that’s going to have to be another day.

This post is part of the Make Summer Camp program I proposed a few weeks back in this entry. And there was an earlier entry about this particular project here.

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  1. […] This post is part of the Make Summer Camp Series.  The goal is to make 10 objects or things between now and September 21, that help you become a more effective Maker and teacher of Makers.  I’ve made a bunch of things, from origami to a red tunic. Make Summer Camp has been great for me to learn a bunch of new skills, mostly in paper engineering, but also in mechanics and some [very] basic woodworking. […]

  2. Andrew: “Heavy sigh. Another ________ing opportunity for growth.”
    Me: LOL! Ain’t it the truth? So much of my life seems to fall under that heading.

  3. Did you cut the fabric on the bias or straight? Linen doesn’t have much basic fiber strength to hold it together because of how smooth each thread is after spinning, so cutting on the bias is usually the only way to keep it from completely coming apart while you’re rushing to hem it. Generally you use tacks to hold the fabric taut when gluing it into a box too, or you end up with loose and lumpy edges. That might not work when you’re trying to cover foam, so it would probably be best to wrap each foam block (like a gift) with the fabric, secure it to the underside, then slide the blocks into the box with the wrapped side down.

    • That’s great. I wish I’d known that about linen when I was doing this. I wonder if that means that I don’t have enough fabric for my other two projects? I cut it straight, obviously… things to work on for the next project.

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