Do you knead a box?

No, you shouldn’t knead a box.  Sorry, kinda forced that pun out there.  A friend of mine wanted a box for her bread, though.  I hadn’t made one of these before, and I learned a lot in the process.  This is also the first project I’ve made for profit (though that part didn’t work out as I thought it would, more on that later).  Let’s get on with it!

About all I knew going into this project is the rough size Steph wanted, and that she preferred it to be a darker color.  I knew about any wood I got we could stain to be dark, so I wasn’t too concerned with that.  I did give the option of using pine to save on cost, but she opted to go with a hard wood instead (a great choice!).  Walnut would have saved a step, as it wouldn’t have needed to be stained, but I don’t really have a means right now to break down rough cut walnut, and I don’t know a place that I could easily get milled walnut relatively inexpensively.  So I was thinking I’d go with oak, but while at Home Depot, I found an 8-foot mahogany board that was just about perfect, so I went with that instead.

As far as  the design, I considered doing a hinged door, just to keep it simple.  But I really felt like if I went that route, I wouldn’t really be doing anything new with this project.  Sure, the final product would be something new, but the path there would have been very familiar.  Also, there would have been a severe lack of llamas in the finished bread box.

llamas.jpg

I was just going to get a somewhat plain canvas fabric for the door backing.  But then there were llamas.  And I’m fairly certain Tiffany would have thrown a fit if I didn’t use the llamas.  (Side note:  I kept the llamas a secret from Steph, so it’d be a nice surprise when she opened the breadbox for the first time.  And I was a little worried she’d have a fear of llamas that I hadn’t known of, luckily she does not.)

The build process was mostly straightforward.  And rather than typing out the entire process here, I’ll let the video do most of the work in showing it.  I know some of it happens pretty fast, so feel free to ask questions using the comments below.

I do want to address a few things I goofed up on, though.  So if you feel like taking on a project like this, learn from my mistakes:

  1. Rounding the edges on both sides of the door slats.  I didn’t mean to round the back over, that was me just being dumb.  It made it much easier for glue to get into the cracks between the slats when assembling the door, which required me having to actually knock a couple of them apart.  And where there was glue, the stain didn’t penetrate.  Luckily it’s in a place that shouldn’t be seen.Door glue up
  2. One of my sides got slightly out of square during the assembly of the box’s outside.  That made the door slightly too wide, so I had to cut the bottom of the box off just past the groove, then use chisels to remove enough material from the groove so I could slide the door out.  Then I was able to trim up the door just fine, reassemble, and all was well.Too snug.png
  3. I didn’t want to use screws for fasteners on this project, for no real reason other than to challenge myself to do things differently.  Dowels worked well for reinforcing the butt joints on the corners of the box, but I should have gone with a smaller size.  I used 3/8 inch oak dowels, and you can see where the drill caused some tear-out on the edge of the board.  Easily patch-able using saw dust and wood glue, but the stain there looks different as that patch doesn’t soak it up and become as dark as the surrounding end grain. Bad dowel hole.png

Overall, I’m still very happy, and proud of how this one came out.  Steph finally received it (was originally going to post this 3 days ago, but USPS took forever in delivering it), and she is happy with it as well!  So what am I going to do with the profits from my first commissioned project?  Nothing, because there were none.

Turns out I made a very common rookie mistake.  I poorly estimated how much this project would take, both in time and money.  I was making this for a friend, so I wasn’t overly concerned about getting paid for my time.  But I really only made back the money on shipping and the mahogany board.  I’m not upset about it, I’m not going to beg to get paid more for it.  I consider this a very important lesson for me.  Eventually I would like to be able to regularly make things for people and get paid for doing that.  I’m sure this is the first lesson among many more to come how to realize that goal.

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