As one of my first projects in my recent wood working distraction, I decided to tackle something that has been on my list for about 15 years. Making nice wooden boxes for the candles at my shop. We sell a lot of 6" colored candles at my shop. And for over a decade, they have been sitting on the shelf in some really crappy looking cardboard boxes. For a long time, I have been telling myself I was going to make a wooden display box to hold them.
So, among the many, many wood working videos I have been watching lately, I came across several that demonstrated the virtues of the box joint jig. I decided that I would make a box joint jig for myself, and my first project to use it would be to finally make some wooden display boxes for those candles. I had picked up a couple of packs of these craft planks of cedar wood from a local wholesale place that went out of business. They were just about the perfect size for the boxes I wanted to make. They just took a little trimming on one end, because I wanted the boxes to be rectangular, not square.
Because I don't have a dado blade for my table saw, I decided to make the fingers of the box joint (also called a finger joint) the same width as my regular saw blade (1/8th inch). Given the size of the planks, it seemed a workable solution. Before cutting the fingers, I trimmed the boards to length, and gave each side a quick sanding on the belt sander. Then, into the small box joint jig/table saw sled they went. I found that it was important to use a small sacrificial piece of wood to set behind the piece being cut in order to minimize tear out. The cedar planks are very splintery and soft, so tear out was a major problem.
I only made one serious flub-up during the cutting, and I knew I did it the second the piece went through the saw. On the short ends, I forgot to offset the finger spacing by one finger width, so that the two pieces would mate up properly. Luckily, I was only cutting two boards at a time, so I didn't waste much.
After the fingers were cut, I put glue in between each finger and fitted the sides together, making sure the box sides were square before setting them aside for the glue to dry. Then, another pass on the belt sander smoothed out the joint.
I went out to the hardware to buy some thin material to use as the bottoms of the boxes. I had originally intended to just glue a piece of chipboard to the bottom, as it wouldn't really be seen anyway, but the boxes were looking so good by this point, that I thought chipboard just wouldn't cut it. I found this 3mm thick hobby plywood for $4 a sheet. I got all the bottoms cut from just three sheets. I was going to stain it a darker color, but decided there was too much risk that the stain could leach out and damage the candles, so I left all the wood its natural color.
I did want some kind of finish on them, so I gave each box two coats of boiled linseed oil, inside and out, and left them to dry overnight.
Here they are in the trunk of my car, getting ready for their trip to the shop.
And here they are in their new home, full of brightly colored candles. I think they look pretty snazzy, myself. Certainly better than those old cardboard boxes. And it only took me 15 years to get around to making them!
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