Art Boxes/Valise/Charger Case

Last year we swapped out some rotting fence sections in our yard and I rescued as many good pieces as I could before we did away with the rest. I used those to make wine boxes, a pencil holder, and a few other boxes with hinged lids. I put a handle on top of one and when the wife and I went away for a weekend around Labor Day, we put all our cords and cables in it and that’s how we carried them around.  It was better to have one place dedicated for them every day than trying to remember if they went in this suitcase, or that backpack, or whatever.

Unfortunately, that box was not sufficient to corral them all, so I built a bigger one from reclaimed pallet wood. It looks like a small valise. Unfortunately, the pallet wood proved finicky and while the box — and many others I made from it at the time — looked good out of the gate, the lids were all very responsive in all the worst ways to the weather.  In particular, the tops all shrunk pretty dramatically and because I’d only face-glued them, this eventually warped the box lids to the extent that they would not close. It’s lovely to be taught the lesson about wood shrinkage even at my age, and even as I should need to be taught it.

But I digress.

Anyway, we still liked the box for cords and cables and so I made another, a little bigger, out of some birch plywood. And, because the plywood is much more stable than pallet wood, I didn’t have to worry about shrinkage. And also, when you’re making one of a thing, you might as well make two, so that’s what I did.  This time I made sure to inset the top and bottom panels in a groove, so that these would not be harmed by the changes in the season — not that such a thing is a problem with plywood, owing to it’s stability.  Anyway, the one box got birch ply panels for the top and bottom, each with a heavy chamfer to reveal the layers in the wood — more than once the wife said she liked this feature best. The other box had a top made with the last of my pallet-wood panels — because this panel was inset in a groove, no need to worry about warping.

But, not content to rest on our laurels I made another of these boxes, this time with a little bit simpler joinery, and instead of the standard plywood top, I riveted a pair of license plates to the top to commemorate one of our trips this year — gotta admit that I really loved Arches National Park, that’s why I decided on this. In addition, I made the handle from a piece of leather, and lined some of the inside with leather. I also stuck it all over with stickers that I sealed in.  This one is a keeper.

While we use the box for cables it was truly built to be a small art box. Each of the lids has a leather strap across it, perfect for holding a sketch pad, and inside are three divided bins to corral your pens, pencils, erasers, and ink. If you want one for your own, you can find them get them here.

For a look at the cost of the one I made for us, with the license plates, I’m about $25 into the license plates, plus the leather, the hardware, and the plywood, so even with the simple joinery, that one would have to run $100. Make them with fancier joinery — box joints can be finicky at times — and out of better wood, and you can see how the cost would go up from there. But for your plain birch plywood versions, with simpler joinery, they’re just $75.

If you have need of one that’s already made, again, get them here. If you want something specific, hit me up and we can talk options and pricing.

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