A Lil' Wood Box + How To Break Your Printer.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

It's always something, huh?  Sigh and alas.

But these boxes are darn spiffy and they'd make a great, well, anything box!

What I used:
Super simple and speedy to build!

Da supplies.
Decide your dimensions; mine were based on the shims though the math still didn't add up quite right (ha, go figure).  Regardless, my boxes are 4" x 4" x almost 18".  17.5" to be exact.

Cut up the plywood based on your finished box size and trim the 1x4 to fit within as the bottom.  If you want a wider box, pick up some 1x6 or 1x8 instead.

Chopped up plywood.
Using a countersink bit, drill pilot holes through the plywood into the 1x4 base, glue and screw.

Think I need a new one a' these, seems kinda dull.  Do they get dull?  I dunno, seems kinda dull.
I found the easiest assembly route was to start with the short sides then onto the long sides.  The countersink is yeah, crucial for this as you want the screw heads hidden below plane.

Short end.  Sunk screw.  Check.
Glue along the short side edges and the bottom of the long side, smush on, countersink pilot, then screw those puppies on.

Hey hey, the long end all attached.
Tap in a coupla' nails at the top corners to connect the long sides with the short sides, keeping it square and true, or square and true enough, whichever.

Next, pop open some of them shims, chop them in half, then cut one half in half again.  Love love love my miter saw!

Watch those precious lil' fingers when you do this!  Watch the wood I mean but be careful fingers don't get chopped off.
Lay out the shim pieces on a side and once you've got them arranged in a pattern you like, set them nearby, squirt on that Liquid Nails, then squish on all the shim bits.  Repeat for the remaining sides.

I may have over-Liquid-Nail'ed here.
And bam!  Bingo!  Viola!  A spiffy container box.  You can stain it, paint it, char it, distress it, droll on it, or just plain seal it up with clear sealer like I did.

Spiffy, yeah? 
I added leather handles to a few boxes -- to do that, get a strip of leather,* trim it to size, drill through the box and the leather, pop rivet* 'em together with the leather ends inside the box.  Heh, make sure to do all that before gluing on the shims fyi and by the way.

A million customizing options for a fancy looking decorative box.  Right?  Right!

Now how did I break my printer?  Siiiiiiigghhh.  Well, because I'm a bonehead of course:

I'm making these boxes for a restaurant/bar as a condiment/napkin/silverware holder thingie so I thought hey, put their logo on them, ya know, spread the branding love around.

First idea was a woodburning pen.  And it's a cool tool but no matter what I tried, whether it be a different tip or different wood, the results were ugh so sloppy and messy looking.  A shame too as I was gunning for the burnt wood look.

Part of the problem was the shim's grain, part of it the pen.  And likely part me.
Mike suggested a branding iron which would be Awesome but heh, sadly I'm not a multi-millionaire.  They can be expensive,* yeah, no, sorry.

A traipse through the internets led to the transferring an image onto the wood via inkjet printer idea.  Ah ha, I thought, maybe this is it.

Before investing in a box of freezer paper as suggested by a post on Instructables, I ran some parchment through my printer based on yet another site.

Or I should say, tried to.  It jammed up instantaneously and got buried within some dark nether region.  So much for that idea.  Nix freezer paper, parchment paper, wax paper based plans.

Next I tried a combination of this idea and this idea.  All I had was Sobo craft glue* (only the best craft glue ever) and some Golden matte medium.*  Kinda pricier route but it worked.

Some of the time.

Some of the ink wiped away and it was a major struggle to get the paper off.  I had to drench the wood/paper under the faucet and even then it was all nuh-uh, no way, hesitant to come off.

Results of the combined two tutorial ideas.
Or the whole entire thing would peel off, all of it, medium, ink, glue.  So frustrating, heh.

One key to the process?  Make sure the wood is bare.  With brain not entirely back from the show, I brushed the medium on, let it dry forgetting the instructions...added another coat, stuck on the paper, blah blah, nope doesn't work.

Get used to rubbing the paper off super carefully but yet aggressively.  Under water.  And get used to pruney fingers.  The paper never completely comes all the way off either.

And you'll panic once you get most of the paper off -- it'll look cloudy, awful, and ruined.  It gets kinda better once dried.

Regular bond paper is what worked for me.  I tried photo paper thinking a slick side would aid but uh nope, not remotely at all.  In fact, it was worse.

There has got to be a better way than all this.  Seriously.

The actual breaking of the printer part?  Cough, crap.  A piece of the glue coated bond paper got jammed in a yet darker nether region us regular non-printer-smart humans are not meant to go.

After at least forty five minutes of trying to get all the little paper shreds out, I damaged a rubber roller by accident and bam, "pick motor stalled" error messages, will not print.  At all.  In other words, "wah wah, you suck and you just broke me."

Near tears.

I was having such a good week, enjoying my time, hanging with the Finny-boy, soaking up the fresh outdoors.  I was in no way prepared for the inevitable crummy day where everything I touched broke.  It caught me off guard.

Mike comforted, "I know you want to do a good job for them but it's ok if the logos aren't perfect."  Uh huh, right.  Of course I want to do a good job for them but I want to do a great job for myself, so I can feel proud of them, the world's toughest critic.

Make damn sure that glue coated piece of paper is bone dry!  Mine was dry, just not sat for hours dry.

What else didn't work?  Only using matte medium on the wood.  When drowning the paper to remove it, the ink swoosh, washed right off.  Never tried the freezer paper because, well, the parchment jam plus the more I thought about it, it's wet ink hovering on a non-porous surface...smear likelihood:  extremely high.

Still, there has got to be an infinitely better way than this.  But these same general processes were all I could find on the internet.


As a last gasp, I tried this idea, after ahem buying a brand spanking new printer* ugh, a tutorial that I kept skipping over as for some bizarro reason, I generally avoid videos.  I am a weirdo, yes.

I watched the video and my jaw dropped -- damn, that looks so easy and, and perfect.  Could it, could it be true???

Yes it is true.  Man.  Kicking myself.  I wish I had gone with this method the first time.  Forsake all others, I deem, and only use this method, mmk?

A lone tip on this one?  Try to keep bubbles and dog fur out of the glue as best you can.  Otherwise, it's the transfer method of one's dreams, in comparison anyway.  It's still not perfect but hey, it's close.

So in the end, the logos got on there and they look mostly neat and tidy.  Best of all though, the boxes were a monster hit, everyone at the place is super duper amazingly thrilled.


*The shims, countersink bits, Gorilla glue, Liquid Nails, the strips of leather, pop rivets, whew, Sobo glue, Golden matte medium, and the brand spanking new printer are all Amazon affiliate links.  The branding iron link is an Etsy affiliate link.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.


  1. Oh gosh, I have those days too where everything I touch gets ruined. Argh. I recently ruined my printer too. I'll never hear the end of it. I'm off to bake peanut butter cookies. 😁

    1. Oh, those days, awful right? Sigh. So sorry about your printer too! That sucks.

      But, I'll be right over for some of those peanut butter cookies, oh yum!


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