Excessively utilitarian?

No, I did not fall off the face of the earth.  The entrance ramp to the information superhighway here at the woodshop, chicken farm, and wood-fired extravaganza (stop at the gift shop!) collapsed under its own weight waiting for infrastructure omnibus bills to be passed and funded.  So we spent a few days without.  Strange how…isolated you feel when you can’t instantly check the weather in Zanzibar.  But connectivity has been restored and so it’s time to crank up the digital mimeograph again.

I got an interesting request from one of my sisters-in-law.  She had beaucoup canning jars whose cardboard boxes had disintegrated over time.  To keep them contained within her storage shelves, she wanted some boxes, but stressed that they only needed to hold empty jars.  Therefore the structure and joinery of the boxes could be much curtailed (and therefore cheaper) than a box that was built to hold full jars.  The lighter and cheaper the better!  I considered this for some time, and ended up with a design that could utilise low-grade (inexpensive!) pine and a bit of 5mm plywood.

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I made handles on the ends with auger and rasp.

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The joinery that attaches the ends to the bottom is a rebate that is glued and nailed.  Importantly, the nails are put in at an angle, almost like dovetails.  This helps to secure it more fully against the demands of use.

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The ends and bottom form a continuous spine of solid wood around the box.  Since this is all from the same board, and all the grain is going the same direction, worries about wood movement are negated.  This allows the plywood skin to be very securely glued and nailed on, since it doesn’t work against seasonal expansion. Further, since the load-bearing part of the box is the bottom and ends, the plywood sides can be extremely thin (and thus economical on shelf space!), but still prevent racking in the open-topped solid structure.

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This is a much lighter build than I typically undertake.  In addition the lack of finish makes the box appear somewhat crude in appearance.  To be truthful, it grates on me somewhat to make something without even a nod toward ornament, not even paint!  But it fulfilled the requirements put forth to full satisfaction.  Now the only problem is making them fast enough…

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