Add Some Color to a Wooden Recipe Box

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Coloring Box

Our recent Woodworking Adventures blog on the adult coloring book craze, which took the technique to wood, got so much attention that we are dedicating a second story to a new project — an embellished recipe box.

Follow along as Woodcraft’s marketing director Liz Matheny uses a coloring book design to add color and unique appeal to a plain, wooden recipe box.  

Step 1 - Transfer

Liz selected a page from her Adult Coloring Book (Zing Books), which featured mandalas and henna inspired flowers, animals and paisley patterns, to use as the design on her wooden box.

She recommends making a copy of the pattern so the original remains intact for another project, or just to color.

Coloring Box

Placing the coloring page where she wanted it on the top of the 5.83″ x 3.98″ x 3.94″ box, with carbon graphite paper underneath the paper, Liz transferred the pattern to the box by tracing the lines of the design with a red pen.

The light color of the box works nicely for seeing the graphite lines, as well as making a nice surface for woodburning.

When working with the corners of the box where the design “wraps around,” you may have to improvise when tracing the pattern, Liz said. She used a craft knife to slice the corners and folded them to a matching point. She also cut out sections for the hinges and front clasp to make it a little easier to trace.


Since this pattern was so intricate, Liz marked a red “X” lightly in each section as she completed the tracing. This helped her to ensure she got each section traced out and didn’t miss one. Using the red pen was helpful, too, as she could differentiate the traced lines from the black lines of the copied design.

Step 2 - Woodburn

Before woodburning or coloring, Liz performed a test patch on the bottom of the box, which could be covered with felt later. Certain woods, like poplar and pine, have alternating soft and hard grains that make it more difficult to anticipate the pressure and heat needed for smooth woodburning or coloring lines.

A test patch of the coloring pencils or markers is recommended also, to make sure the colors don’t bleed or run. If you are using a topcoat over the colors, test that as well, as some bleeding may occur.

Following her transferred pattern as reference, Liz burned the entire design onto the box with a Razertip woodburning system. Smaller woodburning pens will work well for this also.

Trace pattern onto the recipe box. 
Burn the design with a woodburning pen.

After woodburning, before coloring. 

Coloring Box

Step 3 - Sand

After she completed the woodburning, Liz next sanded off the visible graphite lines left from the transfer process. She used varying grits of Norton ProSand sandpaper sheets, ranging from 150 grit up to 400 grit, progressing from coarse to fine as she lightly sanded the marks from the wood.

Not only does this step remove the lines from the transfer paper, it also creates texture for the woodburned lines, making the boundaries very clear and defined.

Coloring Box

Step 4 - Color

Liz chose colored pencils to enhance her recipe box design. You could also use markers or even paint if you have the patience and a steady hand.

Blending and shading colors as she went, Liz colored in the transferred design on the top and sides of the box.

She used Black Dog Salvage’s Guard Dog Topcoat to protect her work.  She brushed it on lightly with a foam brush. Liz warns: do not scrub the brush on the surface or you risk smearing the color.

The Before/After transformation – look what a little color can add to ordinary items!

Coloring Box

Adult coloring is a fun way to reduce stress and enhance your focus and creativity.  Whether you chill out in your workshop by making shavings or in the living room with a coloring book and markers, always make time to take care of yourself by doing something you enjoy. 

We hope you’ll be inspired!

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