Pen Presentation Box

Elevate the turned pens you give away with this fetching container.

A finely crafted turned pen deserves an equally impressive presentation box. This easy-to-build scrap project requires minimal stock but yields spectacular results. The key is to use a 5⁄8" core box bit and a pair of stops at the router table to form the pen-holding coves. For thick pens or those longer than 5 1⁄2", see the note in Figure 1 to make any needed adjustment.

Start with the box blank

1. Mill and cut a piece of straight-grained stock to 1 3⁄8 × 1 1⁄2 × 7 3⁄4".

(For safety when routing the coves, we started with a blank 1" extra in length. You’ll crosscut it to final length after routing the coves.) Now, resaw a 3⁄4"-thick piece from the blank for the box bottom (A) so that the grain in the box top (B) and bottom match nicely.

2. Fit your table-mounted router with a 5⁄8"-diameter core box bit. Raise it to full height. Position the back fence 7⁄16" from the bit’s cutter. Clamp a pair of stops on the fence at 3 9⁄16" from the bit’s cutter with one on each side of the bit. The goal is to cut identical coves in the bottom (A) and top (B). Clamp on a second fence to the table, making it parallel to the table fence. Its function is to keep the blanks over the bit and guarantee straight cove cuts. Allow just enough clearance to slide the blanks between the fences. Mark an “X” on one edge of each blank. For perfectly aligned coves in the bottom and top, keep the marked edge against the table fence for each pass. Lower the bit height to 1⁄16".

3. Rout mating 3⁄8"-deep coves in the box bottom (A) and top (B), raising the bit in 1⁄16" increments in hard woods or 1⁄8" increments in softer woods. Start with a blank against the right-hand stop. Then, lower the left end onto the spinning bit using a notched pullstick. Move the blank to the left, switching to a shoe-style pushstick or pushpad to apply downward pressure. Turn off the router after each pass and allow the bit to stop before lifting the blank with the pullstick from the router table, as shown in Photo A.

4. Rip a chamfer along the back edge of the bottom (A), where shown in Figure 1, End View. The chamfer creates clearance, allowing the top (B) to open and close.

5. Adhere the bottom (A) and top (B) together with double-faced tape. Rip a 45º chamfer across the top front edge of the box top, where shown in Figure 1 and as shown in Photo B. Clamp a topblock in a mitersaw extension fence, and cut exactly 1⁄2" from each end of the assembly. Do not separate the pieces at this time.

6. Mill and plane a 12"-long piece of contrasting stock to 3⁄16" thick. From it, cut a pair of slightly oversized ends (C) to the shape in Figure 1. Tape them to the ends of the taped-together bottom (A) and top (B), making them flush with the back and bottom of the assembly.

7. Carefully mark and lightly indent the hole center points on each end of the taped-together assembly, where shown in Figure 1. (Note: For a smooth opening and closing action, the holes must be perfectly aligned from end to end. The indentations keep the bit from wandering when drilling the hinge-pin holes.)

8. Using a right-angle jig on your drill press for alignment and the depth stop on your drill press, drill a 5⁄64" hole 1⁄2" deep through both ends (C) and into the bottom corners of the box, as shown in Photo C. Remove all of the tape from the box assembly.

9. From a length of .072 solid brass rod, crosscut two pieces  to 1⁄2" long using a hacksaw. Sand a chamfer on one end of each piece for easier insertion through the ends (C) and into the box bottom (A). (I bought the brass rod at a local hobby store.)

10. Finish-sand the box bottom (A), top (B), and ends (C). Trim 1⁄32" off one end of the box bottom so that the lid assembly (B/C) doesn’t bind. Glue the ends to the box top only, wiping off any excess glue with a damp cloth. Let dry.

11. Tap the brass rods through the end pieces and just far enough into the box bottom to check the fit. Sand the proud edges of the ends (C) flush with the bottom (A) and top (B). Pull the pins and do any final sanding. Add finish to the disassembled box bottom (A) and lid assembly (B/C). (I used a wiping oil, but spray lacquer would also work.)

12. Fit the parts together, lightly tapping the brass pins in place with a small hammer to hinge the box lid assembly (B/C) to the bottom (A). The pins should be flush with the outside faces of the box ends (C). Sand, if necessary, and refinish

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