We play quite a bit of Uno and Phase 10 in our house, but just like when I was growing up, the boxes for those games are barely holding together. I thought it would be an interesting project to try and build boxes to hold the cards, and it would be a good way to use up some scrap wood too.
My first attempt used a method that I learned about from Steve Ramsey, though I’m sure he didn’t invent it. With some careful router work, you can end up with a lid that perfectly fits onto the box. The corners were 45 degree miters while the top and the bottom fit on with some rabbets. The router cuts technically worked ok, and one of them was sufficiently snug, but the other one was way too loose. There’s a very fine line between not fitting and too lose. Since the lids flopped off and I didn’t feel satisfied, I finished the boxes with spray lacquer and gave them to Elijah.
I wanted to try again, but instead of just remaking the same thing, this time I decided to make box joints. And instead of having the top and bottom overlap the sides, I set them into dadoes in the does so they’d be flush. The lid didn’t get glued in and was able to slide out the shorter front piece. That plan worked better and those box joints are really solid, but I still had fit issues. One lid fit very well and I got too cocky on the second one and sanded just a hair too long. It was good enough to use though. I thought it would be fun to put the logo into the top of the boxes and I tried making a paint mask with the Cricut as well as using a mask for a Scorch pen, but the paint didn’t look great and the heat for the Scorch pen ended up warping the wood. In the end, I used the laser cutter at work to engrave the logo on the top of the boxes, and they got finished with boiled linseed oil.
Is it overkill? Of course! But I enjoyed making all four and learned lessons that will help the next time I make a box… and a lot of woodworking is a variation on making a box.
While I was making this, I counted our Uno cards and we were missing quite a few so I ordered a new set on Amazon. The day after I wrapped up this project, the cards arrived… in a nice tin case.
But First, Pray
Elijah’s school has a charity auction every year. Last year I made coasters with the school logo on them. This year I thought I’d make a sign since those are so popular. I ended up with a sign that says “but first, pray”.
I didn’t want to just make a painted sign. I wanted the words to stand proud of the surface. A laser cutter would be the right tool for the job, but I don’t have one and our maker space is closed while the pandemic rages. I bought a handful of cheap 1/16″ CNC bits assuming that I would break a few of them in the process.
My first attempt was cutting everything out of MDF. That worked ok for the large “pray” word but the smaller individual letters didn’t hold up. The MDF wasn’t strong enough to hold together at that scale. I then made them out of 1/4″ poplar and they worked fine. I sanded and painted everything, but then I realized that I didn’t have a great way to keep those tiny letters stuck on the wood. I was nervous that one little bump might knock some of them off. After trying a few things, I decided to use my Cricut to make a stencil for the individual letters and then I glued on the bigger word.
I finished it off with a keyhole slot on the back so that it could be mounted easily on a wall. The keyhole bit I have is a 1/4″ shank so normally I put a different collet on the router in my router table, carefully measure and align everything and then pray that it all works. This time I realized that I could just stick the keyhole bit into my CNC and manually drive the machine to get the cut exactly right. It was so much easier!
The end result looks pretty simple but it took a ridiculous amount of time, especially when spread into the tiny amounts of free time that I’ve been able to devote to it. Hopefully it raises a few bucks for the school.