For this assignment, I created five boxes to hold pens and pencils. These also use negative space to show off the shape’s three-dimensional form. See below for how I imagine adding color to these in the future.
All five pencil & pen boxes:
The front and the back, looking either quite professional or more hand-made:
I’ll add a photo of a box being used for pens and pencils shortly!
What went well
My boxes turned out very close to what I imagined! I also became comfortable with a lot of tools in the shop. Thanks, Ben, for the help during office hours.
Delusions of measurements. Why does Home Depot say a piece of wood is 1″ x 4″ but is actually .75″ x 3.5″? I’m now aware that wood is often sold this way. Is it some kind of hazing ritual? Home Depot is being sued for this in Illinois, for better or worse
. I was really hoping for 4″ wood for slightly larger boxes to hold more pens and pencils…
Note: For anyone reading who cares, Home Depot locations in Manhattan won’t cut wood on site.
I haven’t glued these boxes together yet because I want to add some color. I’d like to paint each box in different two tone combinations & add windows to the circular holes out of colored acrylic. I plan to do this by adding a base layer of gesso, and then using acrylic. Open to other paint material ideas.
Summary of order of operations:
- Sketch out an idea.
- Get lots of help.
- Make many of drawings to figure out measurements. I had to fix my measurements later, but this thought process helped me avoid major mistakes.
- Go to Home Depot.
- Use miter saw with stop blocks to cut pieces and dados / slots.
- Use band saw to create bottom pieces.
- Use doweling jig and hand drill to drill holes for dowel pins.
- Use borrowed forstner bits with drill press to create circular holes.
- Use sanding machine to smooth edges.
- Use hands to assemble pieces with dowel pins.
1. Sketch out an idea. See original idea again here.
2. Get lots of help. I wasn’t sure how to go about affixing a bottom piece to the box. Ben suggested sliding a thinner piece into slots that are cut into the bottom of the box. I went ahead and did this, pictured below.
3. Make lots of drawings to figure out measurements. These drawings were based on my assumption that the wood would be 4″ across. Alas. I had to fix my measurements to account for a 3.5″ width, but this thought process helped me avoid major mistakes.
One other note: I spent a lot of time deciding whether to use through-cut or partial-cut dado (slots). I decided to go the easier route and use through-cut dados. (I’m not even completely sure how to use the miter saw to make partial-cut dado slots in small pieces of wood, that would truly not poke through on at least one side.)
4. Go to Home Depot. I bought cheap wood, dowel pins, and a tool box (not pictured). I carried it all back to ITP on subway two stops. Wish I had a picture of me on the subway.
5. Use miter saw with stop blocks to cut pieces and dados / slots. Ben showed me how to use the miter saw to create a dado or slot, whether a through-cut or partial-cut.
Top: Through-cut dado made possible with larger “sacrificial wood” piece, allowing the circular saw to have enough room to push all the way through.
Bottom: Partial-cut dado, on the left, made possible with a smaller “sacrificial wood” piece, which doesn’t allow the circular saw to cut all the way across.
After I learned how to use these switches, I was asked several times to show others:
Left: You can turn the black plate to the left or right to either push the blade all the way down or stop it short at a distance you can adjust using the screw.
Right: You can move this black switch up and down to either keep the blade in one place or pull the blade out towards you to make a longer cut.
6. Use band saw to create bottom pieces (I know this needs a photo).
7. Use doweling jig and hand drill to drill holes for dowel pins.
First, I made a visual plan for where the pins would go. I ended up putting twice as many.
A more detailed drawing.
Then I measured where the center of the holes would go on all four pieces. I settled on putting them either 1 or 2″ down from the top of each piece.
A test after much marking, measuring, and drilling.
For the smaller pieces, I was able to use the doweling jig to create holes in the smaller pieces.
But I wasn’t able to use the doweling jig for the larger pieces because they were too wide for the jig. Instead, I used a hand drill. I regret this, and wish I had thought of using the drill press… or something else. Even though my test piece worked fine, all the other pieces ended up with tears and broken edges, like below. Lesson learned.
8. Use borrowed forstner bits with drill press to create circular holes. In my mind, the circle would be just large enough to be a statement, but still not show the edges of the inside pieces next to it. I was lucky that a 2″ forstner drill was this perfect size. The smaller 1 5/8″ drill made a circle that was safer in that it definitely did not show the inside edges of the other sides, but was not as visually appealing.
Cleaning up all the saw dust thanks to the drill press.
9. Use sanding machine to smooth edges and corners of 25 pieces for 5 boxes. This was a very satisfying step. I saved it for last as a way to relax after using so many machines for the first time.
10. Use hands to assemble pieces with dowel pins. This picture is missing the bottom pieces… but they are each made of very thin plywood in order to fit inside the slot, and cut quite small to fit inside all four dados of each box.
In total, I made 80 holes, 20 dados, and 25 wooden pieces. And all the boxes fit together!
Two more arrangements of the boxes!
These photos show off more of the imperfections of the connections and cuts. To me, these unexpected angles fit within the tone of the piece, as the pieces of wood are quite chunky and playful. For now in their plain state, they remind me of children’s wooden block toys. Once they are painted, they’ll have a more energetic feeling to them. At that point, the angles may detract more from the boxes. We’ll see.