Small Box For Beach Treasures

On Friday we went to the beach in Port Huron, MI and my daughter collected rocks and shells. The rest of the weekend I worked on making a small box for her to keep those treasures in. Final dimensions came out to about 3.25”x2.25”x2”. Materials were white oak and Titebond III. Finished with three-ish coats of shellac buffed to a satin finish with steel wool.

Pictures taken in every woodworking project’s natural environment: outside in the grass on top of a scrap of figured walnut.

A small box is much harder than a big box.

The boards for this were resawn on the band saw from a single piece of scrap wood and then planed down to roughly 1/4″ on a thickness planer. I wanted crisp mitered corners, but the small pieces kept tearing out on the table saw and, frankly, I was closer to the blade than I wanted to be for those cuts, so I settled for simple butt joints. Now that it’s all together I quite like the look of the exposed end grain all around it.

You make boxes like this by gluing it all up as a solid rectangular cuboid (aka “a box”) and then cut around four edges to pop the lid off. Cutting the lid off is moderately harrowing; however, the upshot is you get continuous grain from the base to the lid and that makes woodworkers happy.

After the lid was free there was another hour or two pairing down high spots and squaring everything up with a sharp chisel. Then another hour or two hand sanding everything smooth from 100-220.

The little jagged tabs that align the lid and let it stay snugly in place were made by snapping some offcuts off with a pair of pliers and then artfully sanding them down. It’s a fun look and gives the design some teeth. It’s very satisfying to pop the lid on and off. And you can fit the box in the upturned lid as well. An unintended affordance, but delightful!

A Dad Goal of mine is that my kids grow up with little handmade curiosities like this littered about the house. My daughter smiled when I gave it to her and said “I’m going to put it in my room!”

Front Garden

We had A2 Garden Guides design and landscape our front yard and it looks SO much better! Super happy with it:

And here’s the map they drew for us of what is what. This is really useful because our kiddo keeps asking us the names of things:



Varieties ‘Hino Crimson’, ‘Boursault’, ‘Gaiety’.


PJM Elite’


Mt St. Helen’


Hydrangea are shrubs grown for the large globes of flowers in the summer that dry and give winter interest. Varieties ‘Annabelle’ and variety unknown.


Variety ‘Jeanne”


We rounded out your hosta collection with a few more.


Shade plant with striking foliage.


Shade plant with feathery leaves and flowers.

Bleeding Heart

Late spring bloomer of pink and white heart-shaped flowers in a line on tendrils.


Variety ‘Globe.’ Evergreen with soft flat fronds.


Viburnum mariesii is a shrub with white puffs of flowers.


Amalanchier (common name Serviceberry) is a native shrub that produces white flowers in spring and edible red/black berries in June.


Oakleaf Hydrangea ‘Peewee’ are shrubs grown for the large globes of flowers in the summer that dry and give winter interest.


Low growing evergreen provides winter interest.

Solomon Seal

Shade plant with white bell flowers.


Carex pensylvanica is native to Michigan.

Strawberry flat

These are strawberries cultivated for eating, so make sure they stay well mulched to prevent rotten fruit. They will spread over the whole area.

Mulch (Hardwood)

Hardwood mulch is medium to dark brown, and will fade to a lighter brown after about a year. Thick applications will last 2 years.

Holly-tone (50lb)

Organic, natural fertilizer for acid-loving plants.

Plant-tone (50lb)

Organic, natural fertilizer to “ensure superior plant growth.”


Ribes americana is a native shrub with edible black berries.