Gorgeous, useless thing.
March 15, 2007 5:44 PM   Subscribe

Crafty MeFites: What can I do with a sturdy wooden box?

Recently, I came across a wooden box (with four cups and saucers inside) at a Goodwill store. For the $2 it cost, I couldn't leave the box in the store. It's a sturdy, light wood (oak?) box with a lid that slides in/out. It is about the size of a standard shoe box, maybe a little wider. The top, or lid, has some French writing on it and a logo.

When I purchased it, I was hoping to use it for something crafty. Sadly, it has been sitting in a corner for weeks, untouched. I've googled for crafty ideas, but I'm only finding sites with wooden boxes for sale, or the 'brilliant' idea to store stuff in them.

What should I do with it? Can I make it into some kind of gift for someone? I don't really want to cover over the French writing or logo because it adds character, but I guess I could paint it.

What would you do with a durable wooden box?

Bonus: The dishes are free to craft & play with too!
posted by gursky to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Oooh, I have a box just like this. It used to hold wine bottles- could that be what yours was for too? See picture of wooden wine boxes here. I'm sorry I can't offer a more creative solution, but maybe knowing what it was originally for could offer some inspiration?
posted by MadamM at 5:50 PM on March 15, 2007

I'd love to see a picture. It sounds like the sort of thing I've been looking out for to use as a case for a computer, though may be too small.
posted by Elmore at 5:50 PM on March 15, 2007

Cigar box guitar!
posted by lekvar at 5:50 PM on March 15, 2007

Do you knit or crochet or know someone who does? You could turn the box into a yarn holder. I did this with a larger wooden box, but shoebox size should be big enough for a ball or two of yarn.

1. Use thin plywood or something else sturdy to divide the box into as many yarn ball-sized sections as you want.
2. Glue the dividers in place.
3. Drill a hole in the front of the box for each section.
4. Put a ball of yarn in each section and thread the end of the yarn through the hole.
5. Put the lid back on.
6. Profit! (Uh, I mean, cat-proof and tangle-proof yarn storage!)
posted by MsMolly at 5:51 PM on March 15, 2007

Oh actually, I used to use mine as a venting box. I had a legal pad and a pen in it, and when I got really frustrated or annoyed I'd scribble out a rant on the legal pad, then put it back in the box and forget about it. Something about storing it out of the way made my bad feelings just sort of get left behind.
posted by MadamM at 5:51 PM on March 15, 2007

Obviously, each section needs to be big enough for the ball of yarn to turn unimpeded.
posted by MsMolly at 5:52 PM on March 15, 2007

Best answer: Cornell Box!
posted by lekvar at 5:54 PM on March 15, 2007

Response by poster: Actually, it is probably a wine box, judging from the pictures!

It looks like it could hold two bottles.
posted by gursky at 6:03 PM on March 15, 2007

Best answer: What about as a planter?
posted by phixed at 6:16 PM on March 15, 2007

I would make it your repository for other found bits. A treasurebox! My SO and I started a hobby of picking up odd things from the street (along with being junkhounds from thriftshops already) with the plan to shadowbox them, maybe with little pins and labels. When we got in a bad car accident, and went back to pick up things that flew out of the car, we began to see objects on the side of the road in a whole new light. If you start looking for lost pieces of peoples life, you'll find neat things for your box. Once you have a collection going, you'll come up with a theme that matches the box better, like things in other languages, or romantic things, or boxes, maybe.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:22 PM on March 15, 2007

You could restore it with a bit of light sanding, a light stain and a good final coat. Depending on how the writing is done on it (say, painted on vs. stamped), you could keep that.
posted by tomble at 6:37 PM on March 15, 2007

You could cut some holes in the back of it and turn it into a charging station for your portable electronics. Run the wires for charging your gadgets through the hole in the back, and hold them in place with those little sticky 3m cable hooks. This way you can keep all your gadgets together but also keep them out of sight when you don't want to look at a mess of wires. I saw something like this using a pretty photo box in Martha Stewart's newer magazine Blue Print. Or maybe it was Real Simple. Either way it was a good idea.
posted by tastybrains at 6:40 PM on March 15, 2007

Best answer: Restore/weatherproof it, cut a slit in it for letters, then mount it outside your home along with a pad of paper and pencil on a string for passersby to leave you messages, secrets, poems, whatever.

Then you scan it all, register www.wordsonmydoorstep.com, and take the world by storm!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:11 PM on March 15, 2007 [3 favorites]

Put a DAC in it, or an amplifier, or.....
posted by caddis at 7:56 PM on March 15, 2007

You could turn it into a nice jewelry box - pad and line the inside (perhaps install some dowels to hang earings from). If you wanted a more natural look, tack in some window screening, to hang earrings from.

If you left the dividers in, you could make it a really nice recipe box. Decoupage the sides with xeroxed copies of recipes or drink directions or related graphics, and seal the top. Then further subdivide the inside for different types of recipes, perhaps using one block as a picture frame of a beloved cook (familial or otherwise), and the rest to hold pictures.

My great-grandfather made some boxes in his youth, and I stained and aged one of them so it looked cool, and I put all of my manuals in it - dishwasher, vacuum, tv, mouse-operated blender, etc.

I always thought I'd turn a cigar box into a remote-controlled vehicle. You can mount wheels and motor pretty easily, and then it's a question of how you anthro- or animalopomorphize it. In this case, I'd probably cut off the end of a wine or cola bottle at an angle, and mount it on one side for a head, and then mount the neck of another one on the other end for a tail, in order to create a winebox motorized turtle. I'd use stain to create a pattern around the existing decoration that mimics the geometric bumpiness of a turtle shell.

You could seal the inside, and make room for drink extras at parties (bowls of olives and onions, slices of lime and lemon, cherries), and drive it over to your guests. Or fill it with nuts. Or coasters.
posted by julen at 8:16 PM on March 15, 2007

I keep all the stickers I've ever accumulated in a similar box. Now what to do with those stickers...
posted by furtive at 10:27 PM on March 15, 2007

A wine box eh? Sounds like a perfect existential emergency kit.

Bottle of good wine. (or cheap, or bourbon. Depending on your kind of existential crisis.)
Glass: see above
(Moleskine, natch)
Pens and pencils (I recommend high quality here. Fountain pen, and/ or drafting pencil. Something with heft, which says 'I will write great things with this...')
Candles and matches. (it might get dark in you time of spiritual darkness. Flashlight is optional)
Books of inspiration. (Should be smallish to fit in box with everything else, this leaves you with poetry, Asian tactical manuals, or pulp sci-fi. Any one of these is a perfect choice for an emergency kit like this)
6" utility kitchen knife. (You may need to cut food, you may also need to fight off a legion of zombie squirrels. (see bourbon point above) either way, this tool will be your ally when the darkness and food pairing times come.)

Now that you have gathered your kit, you can be safe in the knowledge that if you suddenly find yourself in a need for personal growth through introspection/ drunkenness, you have all the tools at your disposal to make a hasty retreat to your personal place of sanctuary with the full knowledge that all your needs will be provided for.

A small engraved brass plate with the title 'Existential Emergency Kit; Bring in Case of Emergency' would also provide some amusement for any visitor who stumbles across it in your living space.
posted by quin at 10:30 PM on March 15, 2007 [3 favorites]

If you want to look at it all the time, just nail it to the wall and use it as a little shelf. By the door as a key/mobile phone/mints/other pocket ephemera would be handy.
posted by kmennie at 2:33 AM on March 16, 2007

A box can be a great way to personalize a gift. Buy something for a friend that's maybe related to a hobby, and decorate the box with the items or hobby as a theme.

It could also become a pretty cool gift for a kid--a toy theater! Paint or decoupage the interior to look like space, the desert, etc. or make several interchangeable scenery drops that can fit in the back. You could give it away with toys in the box, and the lucky recipient can use it to display their toys when they aren't playing with it.

What would I do with the box? Paint it dark grey and Mod Podge it to look less woody. Shop junk stores for something that has a big clicky dial and affix that to the front so it looks like a safe. Then keep something goofy in it that's precious to me.
posted by zebra3 at 7:10 AM on March 16, 2007

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