Box 25 – 52 Boxes in 52 Weeks
By Matt Kenney
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This is the first of two boxes that I hope to post this week. I missed last week, so I’m trying to catch up a bit—even though I posted four boxes the week before. I began this box back at the beginning of July, at the Lie-NIelsen open house. It sat around because I’ve had so much else to build. (I made Shaker inspired cupboard this summer, for example.) But I glued it up this past weekend and made the top and bottom.
I’m glad it’s finally done, because it’s a fantastic little box. It’s my take on a box made by Fine Woodworking’s executive art director, Mike Pekovich. I love the simplicity of having a bottomless box fit over a box with no top. I wish I’d thought of this first! Mike’s box has a curly maple top—finished smooth with a nice luster—over an ebony bottom. He left the ebony rough on the outside (milling marks from the bandsaw), just burnishing the surface with some steel wool. The contrast between the surface textures is fantastic. I’ve held this box and it’s truly wonderful.
My version of the box has an apple top and a hard maple bottom. Of course, there a dash of milk paint, too. Painted the exterior of the maple bottom as well as the top face of the bottom panel. Only the inside faces and top edges of the maple was left natural. The bottom panel is plywood and glued into a rabbet. It’s just a bit proud of the bottom sides, so that sit just a smidgen off the surface. The top box, I think, is gorgeous. The apple is amazing. I love the variegated color, and the green of the bottom is a perfect match. The top panel is plywood—like the bottom panel—and glued into a rabbet. I did paint the inside surface and the edge of the top panel with the same green milk paint. I like that little bit of green on the top box. It’s a nice accent that picks up the bit of green that you can seen when the top box is over the bottom one. The box is wonderfully minimalist, I think, and modern in the best way.
As you can tell from the pictures, the box was made to hold business cards. This is the first box of the 25 I’ve written about so far that was made for a specific purpose. I think the box design works well for the purpose because you can flip the top box over and stick the bottom box back into it and have the cards ready for the taking. I made the box to carry my cards when I go on the road to demonstrate or teach. It’s such a pain to carry a big stack of cards and keep them clean, neat and tidy. I have an idea for a thinner box for business cards that I might get to soon. It should fit into a coat pocket. I actually started a second box along with this one (walnut top, similar bottom but to be painted marigold yellow), and I might finish it one day, but won’t count it as one of my 52 boxes.
A few random thoughts.
- Look at the color of the apple. This could very well be the most beautiful piece of wood I’ve had the pleasure to use. I wish my pictures did it justice. I love the various colors, different yet harmonious. I could sing the praises of the apple for hours, but I’ll stop. Just look at it. If it doesn’t move you, inspire you, then you should consider putting your hand tools up on Craigslist or eBay. Or just send them to me.
- Green, green, green. The loveliest milk paint I’ve seen. This is my new favorite color, a custom one I mix up using marigold yellow and federal blue. This time I finished the paint with shellac and then wax (just like the rest of the box). The shellac gave the paint a slightly darker color that’s a better match for the apple than it would have been if I only used wax over the paint (my normal process).
- Having confessed that this box wax inspired by another maker’s box, I guess it’s now fair for you to ask whether I borrowed or stole. I think I stole. I don’t think anyone would mistake my box for Mike’s or Mike’s for mine. Of course, you’re free to disagree, but I’ll still like the box.
- Finally, check out this video to see how well the two boxes fit together. Because it’s fairly humid in CT right now, I know that the fit won’t get any tighter. Come winter, it might be a bit loose, but that’s OK. And while you’re there, follow me on Instagram if you’re not already. All I post is woodworking stuff with the occasional beautiful landscape from my work related travels.