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Building a box from scrap wood and upcycled bamboo

Building a box from scrap wood and upcycled bamboo

cutting wood at the band sawFor this project, I built 30 of these boxes. They are kind of an Asian, James Krenov-inspired box. I started out rounding up all the 8/4 cut-offs that were lying around the shop and ripped them down to about 1-1/2 in width.

I then used the jointer to square up two edges where they will be joined to the sides of the boxes.

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incra hd10000 miter gauge in actionI squared up one end of the legs, flipped them over, and used a stop on the miter gauge to cut them all to the same length.

small domino 500I built a plywood jig to hold the small piece safely so I could use the domino to cut the mortises in the legs. I put a plywood stop on the left and one on the right to quickly put a mortise on the top of the leg and towards the bottom, then flip it over to the center one for the short side of the box. Just because of the amount of room on the leg and the overlap of the mortises, I could only focus on the center of the short side.

plywood template of curved legsI used some scrap plywood to create a template to trace out the curved shape of the legs quickly.

cutting curved legs at the bandsawI roughed out the shape of the legs at the band saw using a ¼” 6tpi Laguna band saw blade.
Just because it felt safer and more accurate, I used a little blue tape to hold the pieces together when I flipped them over to cut the curve on the other side.

Sanding curved legs at the spindle sanderI used my spindle sander to remove the saw marks left behind from the band saw and to refine the shape.

strand bamboo flooring upcycledFor the sides of the box, I used stranded bamboo flooring left over from a flooring job. A friend saved it from the dumpster for me. This product is tricky because when they manufacture it, they cut the bamboo into random-length strands and hold them together with resin. The resin was so tough that I had to get my sawblade sharpened after this project.
I cut the tongue and grove off the flooring and cut the pieces to length. I paid particular attention to be sure I built each box from one board. This way there would not be any huge color variation in the sides on any single box. While most boards are reasonably uniform in color, there is a noticeable color difference from board to board.

festool domino 500 with plywood jigI reconfigured my plywood jig to hold the sides in place while cutting the mortises. This was especially important due to the resin’s density in the bamboo. Without the stability of jig, the bit form the domino chattered a lot in the hard resin causing the mortises to be missed shaped. The jig really helped stabilize everything and reduced the chatter to a reasonable amount.
I also used the same stop position to quickly locate the domino placement, one on top and one on the bottom.



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Cutting dado's in box sidesI should probably get my dado blades sharpened as well, 30 boxes equaled 120 dados, to get around all four sides of the box.

Miter key jig to cut dado slotsThe bottom for the box hit the corner of the leg, so I used my miter key box making jig to cut a small dado in the leg. I also clipped a small number of corners off the bottom.
The dado also landed on the lower domino location, so I cut a domino in half to make room for the bottom and for the domino to pass each other inside the leg.
I used epoxy for the glue up and large rubber bands as clamps. I used epoxy instead of regular wood glue because I didn’t think wood glue would bond well to the resin in the bamboo flooring.
The blue tape prevents the glue from squeezing out and getting on the prefinished bamboo flooring, and the legs are still unfinished at this point in the project. The tape saved me from having to mask off the sides before spraying the finish on the legs

shop made raised panel jig for table saw to bevelI used a shop-made raised panel-making jig to create the decorative bevel on the lid. I always cut the ends “across the grain” before cutting the sides with the grain. You are more likely to get tear out on a cross-grain cut, so cutting with the grain as the final pass will most often remove any tear out from the previous cut

I put my dado stack in to cut the rabbit on the bottom of the lid so it will sit down in the box

I used a satin lacquer as the finish and sprayed it on with my Spray gun.

I used walnut for the handle and roughed out the shape on the band saw. I clamped it to a plywood template and with a whiteside spiral pattern bit I cleaned up the curve on the router table. I then chose a spindle from the spindle sander that I thought had a nice radius on it to put the final shape on the lower edge of the handle. I used some scrap plywood to create a couple of stops so each side of the handle would turn out the same.

center finder jig for drill pressSince I had 30 lids to drill holes for the dowels used to attach the handles, I set up an L stop to quickly locate the proper placement of the lid on the drill press.

zero clearance insert for bandsawTo cut the dowels to hold the handles in place, I used some scrap wood to create a zero-clearance throat plate so the little pieces wouldn’t fall through. I set up the thicker board on the left as a stop so I wouldn’t have to measure each piece. It made quick work of cutting 30 pins for the lids.

ca glue to attach handle. super glueWith a little CA Glue and titebond medium to glue the dowel in place, this project is complete.

Asian inspired upcycled bamboo box

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.

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