Full Chisel Blog

February 27, 2009

Berry Box

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 2:43 pm

Early packaging and shipping containers have always fascinated me.  This is one from Eric Sloan’s Reverence for Wood and he shows a couple of other versions that I am going to make.  His examples are basswood, this one is maple.

A friend of mine has some 1/16″ thick maple veneer and has given me some.  I scored a line, cross grain in the wood with a sharp knife.  I then used a V-shaped chisel, but next time I will use a straight chisel and cut it twice per ‘kerf’.  The v groove in the wood is where the wood bends.  I also use a bone folder to crease the wood in the kerf after I got the wood wet.

Berry Box1

After it was wet, I bent it, next time I will heat it up, although I did use hot water to soften the wood.  Once it was wet, I set it with clothes pins to hold it until it dried.  When I did the layout of the box, I used the compasses to make sure the box was square.  I then cut the bottom to fit.

Berry Box2

After it dried overnight, I fit up the bottom and used small copper tacks to secure the box together and larger copper tacks to secure the bottom.  The thin veneer was first pierced with a square awl, then with a steel plate backing the joint the copper nails were hammered fast.  When the tips of the soft copper hits the hard steel backing plate they curl and clinch the wood together.

A simple box, I am going to make some more.  They were probably disposible during their time period.  I also have in mind a bent wood American Civil War canteen.



  1. Stephen – could you give us a bit more information on how you attached the bottom to the sides? Did you you use the larger tack as a nail, ? How thick is the bottom?

    I used pint-sized wooden berry boxes as a kid picking strawberries in a market garden outside Milwaukee. Some of them had wire handles. They were frequently reused, but I sure haven’t seen any lately!

    Comment by Pete — February 28, 2009 @ 9:22 am

  2. Pete,

    Welcome and yes I did use larger copper tacks for the base which is about 3/4″ thick. I could have and should have used a thinner piece but I didn’t. The small tacks are no. 2, I have one slightly larger but the no. 2 was long enough for the clinch.

    There are a couple other designs that I am going to make, this was my first. I have done several smaller projects like my match box with a shagreen striker and other projects requiring kerfing and bending. The Native Americans on the Northwest coast did a lot of kerf boxes. Maybe I should try the Boaz kerf.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — February 28, 2009 @ 9:56 am

  3. Thanks, Stephen. Appreciate the information! It so happens I have a couple of pieces of basswood lying about that might serve as test pieces and will give your technique a try. It’s a great blog, and very inspiring! s/Pete

    Comment by Pete — February 28, 2009 @ 4:52 pm

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