My first box

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Established Member
5 Nov 2004
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This is my first box! Commissioned (that special no money changing hands type) by my wife for her godson as a christening present.

Made from a single plank of ripple olive ash. Well actually its a plank of ash that was part of a lot from the Ledbury auction marked as ash floorboarding, but its olive and very rippley (sp?) so am I wrong? Trevtheturner got the other lot (so that we didn't bid against each other). Is yours like this as well Trev? Hope so.

Base and lid stop are cedar of lebanon and the hinge pegs are ipe. Finished with 4 coats of Chestnut finishing oil and two of beeswax.

I'm really pleased with the way the grain runs around the box and continues through the dovetails.

Most difficult part was the hinge pegs - I used the Lie Nielsen dowel plate but found that you have to get really, really close(.1 or.2 mm) to final size or massive tearout ensues and also the dowel can twist and turn. I was going to use walnut but I found it too soft so I used some Ipe which is as hard as iron!

The most pleasing part for me is the lid closing action - which is a fast fall followed by a slow close as the air puffs out around the finger holes.








Hope you like it.



Who still has to make a spice chest for his godson and a new godson arrived last night - called Hector for heaven's sake:roll: . Obviously all I can think about is some form of house for him! [-X
That's beautiful, Tim. Did you cut the dovetails by hand?

Hector? Sounds like the name of a hero from Homer's 'Iliad' to me. Perhaps someone enjoyed the movie "Troy" an awful lot.

Coo, that's nice. :D How did you manage to get the colour contrast to cooperate and flow right the way round? I just know I'd have ended up with a "step" in the contrast at one one the back corners (if I was lucky it'd be the back, anyway... :roll: ) Lovely bit of wood. Any chance of some dimensions, wood thickness etc? I'm currently on the scrounge for all box-making related info with an eye on Christmas you see.

Cheers, Alf
Nice One =D> Quality of workmanship and choice of spectacular wood hit the spot for me, you guys must let us know when Ledbury is moving wood again, promise not to compete. :wink: If your haul matches anything like Trevors then you are to be envied. =P~
That's a great looking box! Well done. I especially like the lid arrangement too. I can just imagine the little frisson of pleasure from watching the closing action.
Lovely job Tim. I particularly like the lid an hinges :wink:

How did you cut DTs?
Many thanks for all your kind words.

Dimensions are 355 x 220 x 140. (lxwxd) which gives Golden sections (near enough) on front and end faces. Ash is 16mm thick. Hinges are 8mm diameter.

I was lucky with the way that the plank had been cut in that the hump of the grain curve was some distance from the end and that the two ends were roughly the same grain pattern. WIth a little judicious cutting, I managed to get a near match.

I think if you met the parents you would reaslise that it is highly likely that there is a Hector in each generation. What I can't understand (apart from the obvious) is that their other son is called Harry, nicknamed 'H'. Maybe they are planning on lots of hand me downs? Still lucky they didn't read Herodotus.

Trev and I both got lucky it must be said (although I did get some rubbish oak). October is the mooted date for this year.

Tony/ Gill:

Sadly I can't admit to cutting the dovetails by hand. I wanted to see if I could make it in in a way that could if needed become a little more production led to make up any workbook shortfalls. So I used a 'rat which I have been kindly lent for a few months. If its any consolation to the purists, one of its furry relatives decided to snuff it under the workshop which as you can imagine made it a lot of fun to be in there in the recent heat.

It took a pretty long time to do I think. From initial concept to finished item, I would reckon on actual working time of about 15 hours. Does that seem a long time to you more experienced box makers? The only reason I ask, is that if i was to put a price tag on this sort of thing then it clearly has to be economically viable.

Admittedly a fair amount of that was getting my head round the 'rat since it was the first time I'd cut anything more than test joints and the hinges were really, really fiddly. Next time I would make up a horizontal router jig/ table - I made a slight mistake with one of the hinge holes which I plugged but you can see the error (oh well proves its not machine made!).

Whatever the hobby/ commercial decision is, I really enjoyed making it and look forward to making more things like it.



15 hours seems OK to me - especially when learning to use a new tool. When you start to make batches and develop a few jigs, you'll bring the hours right down.

Pricing these things is difficult and depends on the type of market you are looking at (craft fares? small shops? nik-nk shops? web adverts?).

I was asked to make some of my houndstooth DT boxes for people to buy. In the end, I could not think of a price that would cover the hours + materials and so did not make the boxes :roll:

I would say that £25-30 is what people might pay for it in the right location - but this is only a GUESS on my part.

Good luck, and let us all know if they sell :wink:
tim":1gto3gfu said:
It took a pretty long time to do I think. From initial concept to finished item, I would reckon on actual working time of about 15 hours. Does that seem a long time to you more experienced box makers? The only reason I ask, is that if i was to put a price tag on this sort of thing then it clearly has to be economically viable.Tim
Hi Tim,

I find boxes an excellent way of using small bits of wood left over from larger projects. Those I make from scrap most often are destined to be gifts but sometimes one is made for selling and a price is placed on them for sale through a local gallery.

The price has yet to reflect a realistic shop rate, even the total price the gallery gets for them. Boxes I make on speculation, for me, are a wonderful relaxation and something to make between larger commissions.

I also think the 15 hrs realistic, at least at first.

I have one to start Tuesday 5 July. The commission is $350 US. The box is of an oriental flavor, which probably means the ratio between time/profit will be low as it will have lots of pieces to it. Overall dimension is about 18" tall, 12" wide and 8" deep. Prior to beginning I suspect it will take 15-20 hrs to make. Pretty poor wages that. But, it is all it is really worth.
tim":1gto3gfu said:
Whatever the hobby/ commercial decision is, I really enjoyed making it and look forward to making more things like it.
And that is the real reason to make 'em in my book. My enjoyment is the only valid reason for me to make them because it's not a sound financial decision compared to other work.

That said, I once made some for a friend to put in his booth at a craft fair. They were variations on a theme and a fairly simple theme at that. I made 20 or so in the week leading to the fair (it was a long week). They sold for between $100 and $150 US each. The difference in price more to do with wood selections than detail differences. As per my agreement to my friend, he kept 15%. My portion was somewhere around $2000 US.

If it were not for the simple jigs I made I could not have made that many. I also do not think I could have sustained that quantity for any length of time nor been able to sustain the sales if I could. The fair was also leading up to Christmas, a prime time (as well as Valentine's Day [jewelry boxes, gift boxes], June / July [ring and small gift boxes for weddings and anniverasaries]).

All in all, just remember, most people working wood for a living are not getting rich. Those that do woodwork for the love of it and make money in addition to a primary occupation have a best of both situation.

Well, my two cents anyway.

That is one superb box - well done!

Yes, my stack of ash is much the same. Some of the boards are like the one you have used with the heartwood and sapwood to produce that super contrast, the others are all heartwood. Certainly far too good to use as floorboards! (even at, IIRC, not many - about 8 - ££s per cu. ft.) :D :D


As Tim says, the next auction is scheduled for October on a date TBA. They are usually mentioned on here nearer the date, but you can keep tabs on the auction house on:
A full catalogue of lots is published online usually a couple of days before the auction date. In addition your can register with them online to receive an e-mail notification for any category of sale you choose.


Thanks for the link Trevor will keep an eye on the proceedings.

Tim Are you and Trevor planning another buying spree next October?

That is a seriously beautiful piece of work. I especially like the way the grain flows around the corner.

Guess it's Ledbury for me as well in October!


Very nice box indeed.

I tend to use 1/8" brass rod for the hinge pivots, you can plug the end with wood or leave the brass showing. I plunge cut the sides with a router then lay the lid in place and drill through with the cordless, keeps the holes aligned and square.

Most of the boxes I make are for pleasure but your time sounds right. Having seen the prices of some of the boxes by Peter Lloyd, Andrew Crawford, etc which can run into 4 figures for one offs and a few hundred for small batches, there is money to be made if you can find the right place to sell them.


Thanks for showing and helpful replies.

Yes I like the box and you have inspired me to try and follow in your footsteps.

Have you any books on box making and if so which ones can you recommend
gorgeous. I especially like like those finger holes - never seen that before.

I have a piece of QS oak that would lend itself to the wrap around technique. I hope I can achieve a result as good as yours.


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