Own it or Make it!

This box is my latest offering in box design. I was very pleased with the outcome and decided we should video its making for others to make. I cannot recall the timing of things but in the way of how all things often come together, my family wanted to contribute something in support of my granddaughter’s nursery school, just to say a big thank you for their positive input into her life. Now I had already made a prototype before this happened. It wasn’t really for filming or auctioning, it was just an idea that really came out for me.

This is the box I made in the video, and which is being sold for the benefit of a local charity.

A few weeks passed and as we were talking about the nursery and its need to fundraise to support extra projects and activities for the children, the idea came that I could make a second box and for two good reasons. One, we would auction or raffle the final version and, two, we would make a free video and put it out on YouTube so people around the world could make their own or put in a bid to own mine.

I actually made a couple more as Christmas presents for two of my children. I have a couple of how-to blogs for those who like written instructions. Click here for Part 1 and here for part 2. All in all of course there is a third good reason and that is I had a wonderful and rewarding time making more of the boxes and giving them away.

We are selling the box on eBay and donating all proceeds to the nursery. We hope the money raised will benefit children over the coming years.

This will be the first time we have offered any of my work to the public since we started our filming fourteen years ago. I look forward to seeing who the winner will be and then too how many of you will be making the box over the coming years.


  1. Peter your ‘cigar’ box looks rather crude. The wood is too thick for the size of your box, the edges too sharp, the dovetail proportions unbalanced. Rarely do I look at something wooden that just looks so wrong!
    Long time woodworker.

      1. Paul said it is a box, not a cigar box. It is his design so it can be as thick or as thin as he likes. What gives you the right to say that it is wrong?

          1. Critic is different to criticise. One destroys and the other builds up. I don’t care much about criticism; it’s rarely of any real value to anyone and this one is no exception so it’s of no bother. As always, negative points of view are often intended to tear down and usually, as in this case, are not at all meant to be kind. I wonder and worry mostly about others, the critical person’s family, associates and so on. But then I worry more about the person criticising.

      2. It’s not ‘hating’ to express a negative opinion about something, and I think it is rather silly to say so. What a dull world it would be if we all agreed.

        1. Steve,

          I agree, it would be dull. Unfortunately, though, there is now a professional troll element to much online criticism, and this strays into that. There is a way to be critical, and the original poster failed miserably. There are ways to express an opinion that don’t have to be rude, especially on something subjective (“what does dovetail proportions unbalanced” actually mean with regard to a mechanical joint?).

          I don’t want to be overly critical of the poster’s attempt at trolling/bullying, but it just lacks finesse in my opinion. The deliberate attempt to belittle by using the wrong name, the basic, childish rudeness. The mis-naming of the type of box. William Longtimewoodworker has clearly put in a bit of effort, and I wouldn’t want to discourage him from future attempts to belittle, but on this occasion he’s just not quite met the brief. This is just my own opinion, of course, and I’m sure it’s just a matter of personal taste.

          1. I see these days how terms are often misused or used interchangeably as though they might be one and the same or serve one and the same purpose. Criticism generally tears someone or something down, while a genuine critique serves to help another and even when it might seem negative, the recipient of a critique will usually find the input most helpful. In other words a good critique serves positively to help improve. On the other hand, criticism always focuses on the critic’s intent and that is to tear another down from some lofty height. That was the case here. Who knows what a “‘cigar’ box’ is anyway? Critique is motivated by good intention whereas criticism is always judgmental to make another blameworthy where critique gives focus to finding solutions.

      1. Paul thank you for your expertise and a willingness to share with your viewers. I am 67 and recently retired as a dialysis RN. Working through the pandemic was difficult and I looked forward to watching your videos on my days off. My dad was a lifelong carpenter who passed away early at age 61. At the time I didn’t realize just how much he taught me about woodworking. Watching your videos, some many times, is like having your own personal teacher in my living room. I wonder how many of us woodworkers would have continued if our early work was trashed or worse yet not show our work at the risk of humiliation. Paul, I love your work, I love watching you work. Please do nothing different and keep on keeping on.

    1. How unhappy you must be to leave such a comment. Did I think, just like you, that if I make a box like this, I’ll want to change a few things? Well yes, I did. I’d like it to be a bit more slender as well. So let’s adapt it to our preferences! This post is a gift to us, and I’m 100% certain that watching Paul make the box will teach me quite many things about how to cleverly insert the bottom and hang the lid. How precious a gift. Let’s just say: Thank you, Paul.

    2. I think. It’s a great design for a young person starting on woodworking They will rarely have access to fine enough tools to make a cigar box or the skills required. I like it.


        1. I’m 60 now and until I absent-mindedly found myself strangely transixed by a chisel-sharpening Youtube video during Covid, had never done any woodworking. I think the fact that there’s a FREE two hour, top quality lesson here (one of many) is greatly under appreciated by some! Many, many thanks for everything Paul.

    3. You are completely free to alter any aspect of the design to suit your tastes. Perhaps you lack the skills?

    4. Just because the aesthetics of an object don’t square with our own taste doesn’t make them ‘wrong’. It’s strongly made, and I know from my own experience that cutting tiny delicate dovetail in oak can be tricky as the grain can be coarse and more open than, say, Ash.
      I’m not sure how you can judge the edges ‘too sharp’ with having your hands on the box.

    5. I am approaching 79 next month, and took up hand tool woodworking three years ago. That would be the first time since I left school in Manchester in 1961. I did take up an apprenticeship in the Royal Navy but in Elec. Engineering, I Understood the workshop techniques in both metal and wood. It also taught me to appreciate the work I did irrespective of comments from others. If it satisfies yourself and your happy with it and it fulfils what its supposed to do then why all the aggro. Life is too short,
      be grateful that there are people like Paul to give guidance.


    6. William that’s a good one. something tells me you’re actually not an expert woodworker, just someone looking to push buttons. Too bad as I’d have liked to see your quality of work. Maybe it’s good, maybe not but one thing is certain you have never contributed much to wood workers. Paul has and continues to help others and I for one appreciate his hard work and dedication.

      1. Perhaps not but I was Taught to hand file metal to 0.001 of an inch and dead square, and also to turn metals to the same tolerances over a 3 year period then take the skiils to sea on a diesel submarine where things were made not taken out of a box so I don’t see that as pushing buttons. Try it some time when you are 5000 miles away from harbour!!!

        1. Did you take pushing buttons out of context, Stephen? I took Thor to mean “pushing buttons” as William Fretwell being intentionally provocative rather than in anyway helpful. I have heard through years from engineers here and there telling how they used a hand file to make perfect steel balls or sections of steel and other metals within the tolerances you speak of but I have never had such a feat passed to my hands to hold a square to.

          1. for each piece the apprentice makes, before you are allowed to continue it goes to the marking room for inspection and measurement. if it is out of tolerance the marks are deducted. If badly out of tolerance you start again. This puts you back in time, while the rest of the class is on the next stage. Normally in a different metal and shape. the end product is that when each fitted together the completed item not only should slide without binding but move a cam to move another section. I equate it to your dovetails and very good hinge technique. I thought Thor comment was to me so forgive me for getting that bit wrong. Keep doing what you are doing Paul, it certainly inspires me to continue.

            Regards Stephen

    7. Mr. Long time woodworker AKA William Fretwell

      We should celebrate that with the wonders of technology we can communicate, or at least try to achieve a certain level of communication, about some topics we as humans may be inclined to, such as the majestic work Mr. Sellers has been making for the past 50 years or so, putting his efforts into teaching woodworking to the world, to which personally I feel grateful.

      In order to use this wonderful invention such as the internet, allow me to speak; as Mr. Sellers said, it’s unfortunate that the critique and the criticism are misunderstood and nowadays we may believe that personal opinions are entitled to the former.
      It’s rather different to ask whether the box attaches to my personal conception of aesthetics than a philosophical one, or asking whether the box follows a certain current or if has a particular intended use. Should that be the case let me ask then, what is the “perfect” ratio for dovetails? What is the perfect thickness for the sides? Or even I dare to ask what the perfect size for the box is?
      Those questions may have different answers depending on context, purpose, even artistic and aesthetic backgrounds, leading to as many possible answers as many boxes have been made along the history of woodworking itself.

      There is no wrong or right answer here, the box is beautiful, yes it is. Is it the most intricate work, or the most detailed? Not necessarily, but that is something beyond the scope of this comment. All I know is that the box is beautiful.

    8. Hi All,

      I’m reminded of the gift, or maybe skill of being resilient. Of which Paul reminds all of us. I’m 45, and most likely the ranking young timer. I was blessed to find Paul on YouTube eight years ago and have been sharing my love for woodworking with my children and community ever since. If I were to pinpoint one common thread in Paul’s work, it would be his graceful persistence to make woodworking possible to as many walks of life as possible. You always feel welcome in his shop. It’s the beautiful simplicity that reminds me every time I try to get complicated with a new project, that I do this because I love it, and I’m blessed to even pick up a tool and make a shaving. What a joy to have someone dedicated to encouraging the art in our lifetime.

      Thank you, Paul, for making me a Woodworker.

  2. I was JUST wishing Paul had a deeper box design (deeper than his dovetailed chisel boxes, I mean) with a lid when this gorgeous project showed up in my email in Paul’s latest blog! Can’t wait to make it, what a blast! Will probably make 2 or 3 🙂

  3. Frankly, I love the simplicity, the sharp lines, the featured dovetails and the grain direction of this box. I particularly enjoy the novel approach for opening the box and the fact that there isn’t protruding knob or pull to get in the way. It’s a subtle way of opening and closing it. I think the selection of a different species of wood for the handle is unique, graceful and very elegant, not to mention the placement of the stop for the lid.

    So, in short, I’d love to build the box. Sometimes too much detail ruins a simple but elegant look.

    Thanks for sharing Paul,

  4. I’ve made a number of these neat boxes in differing sizes for my own use and as gifts for others.
    From business card boxes to pencil boxes to letter envelope boxes to “salt” boxes for the chef in me and others at the cook top, etc.
    The same thickness of the wood and dovetails is right for all and adds to their uniqueness and beauty, so I disagree with the earlier comment by one of our others on this site.

  5. What a wonderful connection of events. FYI, when you finally cleaned out you storage unit it Texas and put the mesquite dovetailed box up for auction, I stopped bidding around $300 on that. I suspect this will go for more. What I really appreciate about this box is where you taught us about making a template to saw the dovetails. I had never considered doing that. I do like making and giving small boxes at holidays and such. In the past, I’ve tried gang cutting a bunch of pieces at once but really disliked that approach. The template dovetail saw kerf guide is a brilliant idea and will help speed up making boxes. Thanks for that and many more things. So glad I found you online by accident in 2015.

    1. Just an edit to my post above Paul. I’ve started to watch the video. I thought this project was one in which you were going to talk about the dovetail miter template you had blogged about a while ago. It isn’t (and that is fine). Still appreciate this video.

  6. Hi Paul , Thank you for the time and effort you put into creating this video . I love the look of the box and will be building one very soon . All the best

  7. I come and go with woodworking in my garage, but taking a quick glance at this fine box remindes me of why I enjoy looking at your work Paul. It totally inspires me to get back out there and make something with my hands. Your teaching is very infectious…and a pleasure to relax to at night watching on TV instead of all the (what’s the english term??) “Rubish” they put out today.
    Keep up the fine job you do of instilling in us to work more with our hands for the mere pleasure of it all.

  8. I absolutely love it, especially the nice paneled bottom with your signature.

    I make my nice drawers employing the David Charlesworth method, using “European” bottoms slipping into two rails and front. I use quarter sawn timber… Often I have 5/16″ or 3/8″ thickness.
    Thanks much, Christopher from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

  9. William F. Could do with a nice cup of Earl Grey, relaxing and calming down.
    Perhaps an Ale at the public house, perhaps…
    Just a suggestion.

  10. Hi Paul
    I just want to say thank you for providing such helpful information about woodworking. I have a lot of things to do around my wooden house here in North Queensland, Australia and started by purchasing a table saw. I was quite scared to use it, until I watched as much safety stuff as I could. Then I had to deal with the noise and dust.

    It’s so much more pleasurable working with sharp chisels, planes and other hand tools. I have begun to realise that the people who built my house over 90 years ago didn’t have circular saws, nail guns or electric routers. They built the whole place with the same tools you are showing me how to use.

    Thanks again. It is such a pleasure to learn from you.

  11. I have no idea what William was talking about. The box is great. Nothing looks off. Some times we get hung up on trying to make boxes and bowls look too light. I like the sturdiness of it. I hope it brings a good price. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  12. Your work is a great inspiration to me – keep on. I try to do a lot of the things you present but -yet – nothing comes even close – but I have a fantastic time along and will day by day get closer.

  13. freedom of speech….it’s a beautiful thing!
    professor paul, please continue posting and creating
    b safe/b well…y’all

    1. Absolutely agree with you, Robert! 🙂 And one of the perks of that freedom is that more often than not, people reveal who they are rather quickly. The saying “It is better to shut up and let everyone think you are a moron, than to speak up and remove any doubt!” truly shines!

      Funny how the critics points out what they deem to be imperfect, but never offer any suggestion on how to correct the fault. That tells me everything I need to know, really. 🙂

      Freedom of speech. In this day and age, more often than not it is the freedom to reveal stupidity on some level. Or so it seems to me.

  14. Currently 44 bids and price £620 + £5.99 shipping, impressive and deserved 🙂
    Good on you Paul! 🙂

    [My wife works with young school and reception children now, she is dedicated and loves it – she has probably found her true vocation at last! Although she is also a very skilled and experienced craftsperson but I won’t go into that now! I know she would appreciate such a generous gesture, so I’m sure your Grandchildren’s nursery will :). Unfortunately I do not yet feel ready to make such a box but I am currently making my third sharpening stone box, this one like you: no drill just chisels (and a little gouge and poor man’s router plane work too. 😉 ]

  15. Philip your ‘campaign’ box looks rather Rabelaisian. The wood is too obtuse for the expanse of your box, the edges too salient, the dovetail proportions non compos mentis. Rarely do I look at something wooden that just looks so sophistic!
    Long time wordworker.

      1. You got me! No philip, just made it up. I am not a wordworker either.

        I just get infuriated when people leave inane comments without thinking first. I love it when you post stuff and I learn something all the time. I have made exactly 1 box so far and when I was reading your post I decided I have to try this one! Then I read that comment and thought, what is wrong with that William guy?

      2. Patrick was satirising the pomposity of the unkind and uncouth “critic” above. “Philip” refers to the fact that the Critic got your name wrong, calling you Peter instead of Paul

  16. Hi Paul,
    Enjoyed the video. Thank you for sharing. The only dimension I think you didn’t mention was the width of the boards for the box. If I had to guess, they look about 4″ wide. Could you please confirm the dimension of the width? Many thanks.

  17. Hi Paul,

    in the video you used your edge planing jig to square up the lid initially. Just wondering: do you generally prefer this method over the shooting board nowadays?

    Thanks for the tutorials!
    Cheers, Simon

  18. Hi Paul. I’m interested in the choice to use glued in beads to hold the base rather than a groove in the sides. Did you make this choice to offer us something different, having shown groove assembly before, or was there a structural preference for that option? I’m just curious to understand how you weigh up the alternatives here and what guides your choices in the end. Many thanks. Love the box design by the way and hope to try making it once I’ve worked my way through the long list of other projects I’m hoping to manage!

    1. Mostly I try to offer a different option on different projects at different times. Gluing long grain to long grain will be as good as a solid weood groove but it should not be an either or. I also groove the edge of wood, rip, plane and do it again to get four strips and glue this in. Of, course, I alsy groove all four sides when I want to too.

  19. Hi Paul

    I have some 20 strips of wood 1.5x12x90cm of mahogany (I think) from palettes. the ends are in bad shape but I think some 50-60cm can be recuperable. Is this wood easy to work (glue and plane)? I’m not shure about the wood but I looked up in the ad the color is like African mahogany. The texture is pretty rough…

    1. I could suggest some but with many possibilities from South America to Africa and then Asia too it would be futile. the best thing is to just work it and see how it works for you.

  20. Thanks Paul.I just watched the video on making this box.Awesome job!I have learned a lot watching you’re videos.I have a lot of you’re smaller projects the carved mirror,tool tote that’s was a fun one.Cutting boards.desk organizer.coaster set.I’m having a blast doing this.God bless and keep up the good work.

  21. Thank you, Mr. Sellers.
    You, Rex Kruger, James Wright, J. Katz-Moses, and Rob Cosman are an inspiration to me. During the lockdown I started learning some woodworking just by watching your channels (and motivated by the memory of my late grandpa, who was a carpenter). Last summer I finished making my first classical guitar (which looks really ugly but it is playable) and I just started with my second one.
    Big thanks.

    1. I’m a bit out of date these days with not really working and living there any my more. Each time I recommend something the company’s gone or changed products. Someone else can jump in, I am sure.

  22. Hi All,

    I’m reminded of the gift, or maybe skill of being resilient. Of which Paul reminds all of us. I’m 45, and most likely the ranking young timer. I was blessed to find Paul on YouTube eight years ago and have been sharing my love for woodworking with my children and community ever since. If I were to pinpoint one common thread in Paul’s work, it would be his graceful persistence to make woodworking possible to as many walks of life as possible. You always feel welcome in his shop. It’s the beautiful simplicity that reminds me every time I try to get complicated with a new project, that I do this because I love it, and I’m blessed to even pick up a tool and make a shaving. What a joy to have someone dedicated to encouraging the art in our lifetime.

    Thank you, Paul, for making me a Woodworker.

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