I have always loved boxes. When I was a child, we always had boxes, usually cigar boxes made of
wood, where we kept favorite things, secret finds and our precious stash of baseball cards. Later
there were boxes to hold mementos, a ticket stub from a ball game or that first driver’s license
permit. Pictures from parties, labels from records, foreign coins and other such treasures always
found a home in a box.
I have always liked to make boxes. After all, most of cabinetmaking is about making boxes. A cabinet
is just a big box and a dresser is just a box filled with little boxes (drawers). There are several
things that I take into consideration when I set out to make a box. The first is the selection of wood.
I like to start with thick lumber and saw it into thinner lumber. This process is known as re-sawing.
This gives us nearly identical grain pattern often used in book matching. This provides what I call
“grain wrap”. Notice in these pictures how the grain and lines in the wood
flow from the front to the side and around the box. This is very visually appealing and gives a
uniform finish and color.
I like dovetails. I think they give the look of traditional cabinetmaking and are a very strong
joint. I like using what I call a picture frame top. The top of the box is made
like a picture frame, mitered at the corners. Now mitered joints are not very strong because they are
glued end grain to end grain. To strengthen them, I cut little 1/8″ splines in the joints to lock
them together. You can see these in the pictures. The top panel rises above the frame just a little
bit, maybe 1/32″ of an inch. The bottom of the box is solid wood and floats in little grooves cut
into the sides of the box. All in all, a nice box, simple yet complex, beautiful but not over-bearing.
These boxes reflect my design philosophy. They look very simple until you look closer. There is an
enormous amount of detail that goes into each one of these. This is why they often take 4-6 weeks to
complete. Sometimes I wonder “Will they notice the gently eased edges even on the bottom or the softly
file rounded corners on the top?” They invite you to hold them and touch them and perhaps to notice
the nicely hand-rounded edges (finger friendly) or the subtle grain as it flows around the piece.
These boxes can, of course, be engraved and made intensely personal. They make wonderful wedding
presents as a nice place to start collecting together. They are wonderful
for awards and recognition.
They feature solid brass, American-made hinges and
some have custom key locks. They can even be music boxes. I make basically two styles of boxes.
The first I call the Award box simply because the first ones I made were in fact used as awards.
These are a “cigar box” style where the top fits in between the sides. James Krenov displayed a box
of this type in his book A Cabinetmakers Notebook and I just loved the simplicity and hand
refinement. I made some modifications such as my splined mitered tops in lieu of frame and panel, and
it remains my favorite. It can also be constructed with a solid top making a simple classic cigar box.
The second type is what I call a keepsake chest or Snowy’s box. I gave it this name as the first
one I made was made as a memorial pet urn. This has shaped legs and a shaped, overlapping top and
inlaid key plate.
Of course, I am happy to quote custom sizes and special made boxes. A client contacted me and stated
that he desired a box made to a specific size with a tray that separated the box into two compartments
These were for 2 diaries that he has kept since his son was born. The box was to be a 25th birthday
present. We incorporated the silhouette design from my “save one life plaque” as a top design.
My customer wrote me and called me and stated:
“George, I want to let
you know the box arrived. I am at work and only had a short time to enjoy it but it is everything
I had ever wanted. The detail, fit and finish are outstanding. And I love the engraving.Thank you
for such a great piece of art. You truly do know your craft.”
Then of course there is the laser carving. 3d graphical laser carvings enhance these custom boxes
and can make them just a little bit more special. Consider the “hummingbird box”.
This little carving really sets off a rather special box.
Anniversaries, weddings, graduations or just the celebration of a new retirement homes are all
life events. All of these events usually have mementos, a garter, a faded photograph, an invitation
or notes from friends and family. Wonderful treasures need a treasure chest. They need a box.
I make boxes as fine pieces of furniture. The solid wood used throughout, including the bottom,
the splined mitred corners, the careful dovetails and thoughtfully selected wood make every piece
unique. These are one of a kind handmade heirlooms that are as special for me to make as they are
for the love and bits of life they will hold.
George Beck, Fishers Laser Carvers
Have questions about my Custom Wooden Boxes? Contact Me!