Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my lid so tight, and what can I do about it?

On unfinished boxes, the lid is intentionally left tight so you can get the exact fit you want. In addition, wood swells and shrinks as it gains or loses moisture. Since the boxes are made in Arizona, it's likely that your lid got tighter after shipping --especially if you live someplace with high humidity. If your lid is too tight, get a piece of sandpaper (100-150 grit) and place it on a flat surface. Hold the lid so that the narrow edge is flat on the paper and slide it back and forth. Check the fit often to avoid taking off too much. Also hold the lid at alternating ends, as the tendency is to push harder on the end you're holding, resulting in a taper. Work very slowly- don't push down on the lid, let gravity do the work. Check the fit after every stroke or two. It's very easy to take off too much.

What can I expect when I order a custom box?

Honestly, the first thing you should expect is an email back with questions and suggestions. We've never had a custom order where we didn't exchange several emails to make sure we had the details exactly the way the customer wanted them. In fact, the average is probabpy 5-8 emails that get exchanged before any wood gets cut. We'd much rather double check a detail than have you less than perfectly happy.

Why do some woods cost more?

Some woods are just more expensive (Lacewood, Mesquite, etc). Other woods are difficult to work (bloodwood is brittle and tends to chip), requiring more care to be taken in construction and occasionally necessitating a part be made more than once.

How many woods can I choose for my box?

There really isn't a limit, although adding more will increase the cost. Going to 2 or 3 woods will add little to the cost of the box (except, of course, any difference in material cost). Up to 6 different woods (one for each side) isn't too bad, but starts complicating layout and construction. Beyond 6 woods, it's necessary to do things like double dovetails and/or inlays.

Can I get a discount for ordering multiple boxes?

Yes, contact us to get details. Generally, all the boxes will need to be structurally identical. You could get several of your friends together and each choose your own wood, as long as the structure of the boxes is the same. The more identical the boxes are, the greater the discount can be.

How should I take care of my box?

The boxes are designed for strength and durability. But that doesn't make them indestructable.

You should avoid extremese of heat, cold, and moisture. So don't leave it in your car in the summer heat or winter chill. Heat will soften the glue, cold will make it brittle.

Managing the moisture is perhaps the hardest, and will affect the lid the most. The lid will swell/shrink as the humidity changes, making it naturally vary from loose to tight. The wood of the boxes is laid out to help them absorb the changes due to humidity without breaking.

If you have a wax finish, it should be renewed periodically (every year or less, depending on usage). Oil finishes likewise may be renewed as needed. Lacquer and shellac finishes shouldn't need any maintenance unless damaged, in which case they can be repaired with care -- the exact procedure will depend on the nature of the damage.

A custom box done for the 2006 Chicago Kotei
A box branded with the Ratling mon and with an honor counter lid
A box made of purpleheart and avoidre, branded with the Unicorn Mon on the lid.
A box done in crab clan colors with a mon counter lid.
A box done in dragon clan colors with a mon counter lid.