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The Perfect Box. 693

No Life Club Posts: 3,902
The Perfect Box.
« on: July 07, 2019, 12:02:23 PM »
This is a weird one, and I have no idea if it will generate any discussion or quickly disappear off the bottom of the page - but this issue vexes me often, and this is the only forum I frequent that might have something to offer on the subject.

I make all my own storage and transport containers - sometimes I am limited by where they are going (ie, space in a ute, van, or truck), what they are containing, mass limitations, or what materials I have on hand.

I find myself, at this moment, with a surfeit materials, and a desire to make half a dozen or so general purpose shipping and storage boxes.

At some point I might tweak for efficiency of cutting the materials, but as an initial plan - What do folks think are the perfect dimensions for a box? (I'll put in conversion sizes, but they'll be approximate to the nearest 1" )

I've made some that are 900mm (35") long, (and many longer, but they were generally "install and leave" types) - I quite like the size for storage, but it's a teeny tiny bit long for easy grabbing and lifting - on the other hand, ones that are around 600mm (24") seem to be a teeny tiny bit short. I'm thinking my "sweet spot" might be around 700mm (28")

Same with depth, 300mm (12") seems a little shallow, but 450mm (18") seems a tad too much and things can be lost in the depths.

I'm never sure to go with a matching width to depth, or is wider than deep a better look? (narrow and deep is hideous to behold, in my personal view)

Does this keep anyone else up at night, or do you just buy whatever sizes the store has when it comes to boxes? (even then - what's your favourite size?)

Finally, and this is a matter of construction - in your plain and simple glue & screw style timber box - do you prefer the Base to be the full size of the box, with the sides all sitting upon it - or do you prefer your Base recessed (either completely on all four sides, or just the front and rear, or just the ends?)

(FWIW, I like my base recessed, I'd rather lose a little bit of internal space than have the box look tall and...boxy....)

(In case that is all clear as mud, I'll try to take some photos of some of my boxes tomorrow when there is light)



Obviously the subject of dimensions is my most pressing concern - but please feel free to throw out any other timber-box related thoughts you have! Assembly, hinging, locking mechanisms, handles, protective coatings, etc etc!

No Life Club Posts: 1,316
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2019, 03:07:28 PM »
I have a pretty serious Box Fetish myself really and I have been in therapy for it for longer than I can remember sadly.

So far the only sure fix for me is of course more boxes!

I am baffled by the contrast of your seemingly serious inquiry while at the same time you seem to not realize that there is no such thing as a "Perfect Box"!?

I have a lot of boxes and none are perfect.
I am usually driven by the dimensions of things that I need to put in a box and not the other way around and yet even then it can be tough to get it just right?

I also decided a long time ago that it is almost impossible to justify making my own boxes for many things when I can buy used Pelican cases and imitators here so cheaply that are simply superior to mine in every way,all day long.

There are so many used Military Shipping Cases for sale it is Crazy,Good Crazy too!

This leaves me luckily making fewer of my own unless I have a specific need for which I can not find a better premade option as I need one.

The exception might be Anvil style cases for road use of electronics usually but then I also have a Manufacturer of these cases across the parking lot from my Shop too and can get what I might need from them so easily that it is tough to rationalize wasting my own time trying to match them.

I will still make my own at the drop of a Hat though and am cheap for every Box & Case and Proud to be so too!
No Life Club Posts: 1,271
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2019, 04:38:49 PM »
I spent years thinking about boxes. Years I'll never get back.. :drink:

There are a few sizes that have the advantage of fitting on standard europallets, which again means fitting in systems adopted for that. Thus for somewhat sizeable yet fine for hand carry the sizes 80x60, 60x40 and 80x40 tend to be popular.

(As a sidenote for boxes to used for international shipping: Europallets and those sizes are just a bit too big to fit snuggly into international container sizes. We can thank striking dockworkers in the UK in the 70s for that intended mismatch... Anyway, if that is a concern slightly smaller boxes that fit well on both Europallets and inside standard containers are usually used - or non-standard containers).
« Last Edit: July 07, 2019, 04:45:37 PM by Vidar »

"If only simple wasn't so hard" - me
(Partial disclosure: I design tools for a living).
No Life Club Posts: 3,902
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2019, 09:44:32 PM »
Quote
I am baffled by the contrast of your seemingly serious inquiry while at the same time you seem to not realize that there is no such thing as a "Perfect Box"!?

Perhaps I mean "optimum box" ?

There has to be a box that is aesthetically pleasing, ergonomic, and functional....

No Life Club Posts: 1,316
The Perfect Box.
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2019, 11:45:04 PM »
Perhaps I mean "optimum box" ?

There has to be a box that is aesthetically pleasing, ergonomic, and functional....

Maybe but Optimum for what exactly?
There is a lot of stuff to make a box for.

Clearly the right box for this



is not the right box for this as an example.



So in my mind this depends entirely on what you want to carry and how.
No Life Club Posts: 1,141
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2019, 01:28:08 AM »
As others have noted, I think the dimensions are largely dependent on what one will be putting into the box, as well as where one will be putting the box.

Also, I think it makes sense to target a gross loaded box weight of no more than about 50 pounds, as this should ensure it is easily manageable by a single healthy adult.

Aesthetically, I've always felt that equal (e.g. square or cube) or golden ratio dimensions looked best.  (If anyone is not familiar with the golden ratio, just check out Wikipedia for a quick primer.)  Based on this, and your preferred length of 28", I'm going to suggest (LxWxD) either 28x28x17 or 28x17x17.

I don't build my own boxes, but I'm a big fan of totes for storage, moving, and camping.  Rubbermaid Roughneck stands head & shoulders above the rest for durability.  The 18-gallon size seems to be about right for general purpose use.
No Life Club Posts: 3,902
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2019, 10:50:31 AM »
I forgot to measure it, but this is one of the sort of thing I am talking about - simple box thrown together with offcuts of plywood and some screws. (in rough numbers, it'd be around 900x400x300)

I don't recall what this one was originally for, and now it sits empty. Most (actually I think all) of it's brothers and sisters have been repurposed into garden boxes.

Right or Wrong - I believe these are proportions I find appealing - wider than it is deep, and about twice as long as it is wide.

I am interested in what someone said about pallets - a pallet is approx 1100 square, so if I made the boxes (say) 700 x 400mm, they would stack nicely in a pattern....

if I use 1100 as an upper limit for L + W, and maybe work the golden ratio into it (which I did spend some time with a pad and pen trying different sizes), perhaps I can find the Correct Dimensions.

I wonder what happens if I make a Box  Z Deep, Z*1.61 Wide and Z*1.61*1.61 long.... (if Z is 260, then this will also meet the first criteria)

Will the universe survive such a thing?
« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 11:33:12 AM by Sea Monster »
No Life Club Posts: 1,271
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2019, 01:41:38 PM »
Europallets are not square but 120x80cm. If you want stuff to also cram nicely into an international container that has to be reduced to about 117x77 or so. (Working height inside a normal height container is about 235-238cm - better check that, it is from my leaky memory!).

I get the logic that a box first mission is to fit its content. However that also includes scenarios where the content is many small things, and for that one has a lot of freedom over the box size and design.

I don't think the best design for a one off box to be handled manually will match a tight pallet fitting one. The pallets wish introduces a non-ergonomic limitation, and then you have yet another balance and compromise to be made.

"If only simple wasn't so hard" - me
(Partial disclosure: I design tools for a living).
No Life Club Posts: 1,316
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2019, 02:42:38 PM »
The only Right or Wrong is whether the box works for the Load,right?
It sounds like you are trying to design something pretty too?

So if building for that rough size and pallet transport I would build more like a crate than a box myself.

It seems clear that you want something too big for a 1 person carry and I would make sure then that it has wheels and much better handles and also reinforced edges all the way around as well.

I would also build in some form of indexing to enable safer stacking so that the boxes interlock to some degree when stacked.
I would reinforce the edges so that the screws can bite not only onto the plywood endgrain but also to actual wood for strength.
If this is not what you want then look to inside cleats maybe so that you can get additional fastener strength?
By using 1x3 for example on each edge you can also easily build in the tops and bottoms to lock together when stacked and you might even need forklift guides of enough lift under the box for forks depending on the weight and how you intend to get these loaded in the first place?

I probably also build a sealed box and then cut the lid from around the circumference of the box so that the lid is not just a flat piece but instead another structure that will resist bowing and flexing better.

I have had crates like this just "Explode" sort of when dropped too hard and depending on the contents that mat be more frequent than you might think but is never a welcome event.

I forgot to measure it, but this is one of the sort of thing I am talking about - simple box thrown together with offcuts of plywood and some screws. (in rough numbers, it'd be around 900x400x300)

I don't recall what this one was originally for, and now it sits empty. Most (actually I think all) of it's brothers and sisters have been repurposed into garden boxes.

Right or Wrong - I believe these are proportions I find appealing - wider than it is deep, and about twice as long as it is wide.

I am interested in what someone said about pallets - a pallet is approx 1100 square, so if I made the boxes (say) 700 x 400mm, they would stack nicely in a pattern....

if I use 1100 as an upper limit for L + W, and maybe work the golden ratio into it (which I did spend some time with a pad and pen trying different sizes), perhaps I can find the Correct Dimensions.

I wonder what happens if I make a Box  Z Deep, Z*1.61 Wide and Z*1.61*1.61 long.... (if Z is 260, then this will also meet the first criteria)

Will the universe survive such a thing?
No Life Club Posts: 3,902
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2019, 09:58:21 PM »
The pallet constraint was just a thing of interest, I'm not terribly likely to need to stack on a pallet in this instance, and as pictured, I like to put handles on the boxes so meshing them together is not really going to work anyway.

Quote
The only Right or Wrong is whether the box works for the Load,right?
It sounds like you are trying to design something pretty too?

So if building for that rough size and pallet transport I would build more like a crate than a box myself.

It seems clear that you want something too big for a 1 person carry and I would make sure then that it has wheels and much better handles and also reinforced edges all the way around as well.

I would also build in some form of indexing to enable safer stacking so that the boxes interlock to some degree when stacked.
I would reinforce the edges so that the screws can bite not only onto the plywood endgrain but also to actual wood for strength.
If this is not what you want then look to inside cleats maybe so that you can get additional fastener strength?
By using 1x3 for example on each edge you can also easily build in the tops and bottoms to lock together when stacked and you might even need forklift guides of enough lift under the box for forks depending on the weight and how you intend to get these loaded in the first place?

I probably also build a sealed box and then cut the lid from around the circumference of the box so that the lid is not just a flat piece but instead another structure that will resist bowing and flexing better.

I have had crates like this just "Explode" sort of when dropped too hard and depending on the contents that mat be more frequent than you might think but is never a welcome event.

I am shooting for the "upper limit of one person lift/carry".

So far I've been putting them together with construction adhesive (sikaflex) and washer head screws, and I have not been able to break them if I tried.

I have put skids on larger boxes in the past - which would allow MHE use, but mostly to avoid having a giant moisture trap. These ones should not be so large.

Though a simple hinged flat lid is by far the easiest, it's not a massive step out of my way to do something like https://cdn11.bigcommerce.com/s-80qxgw/images/stencil/1280x1280/products/101/1902/Wooden-BoxLarge-Flat-TopHinged-Lid-Baltic-6-5__04274.1494402899.jpg?c=2&imbypass=on

which would give it some rigidity.

I can also put an internal frame in, in the event that the material itself doesn't provide enough strength and rigidity.

However, I am a habitual tightarse, and these things are always made of "scrap" ply that I have around, cut, glued, and screwed in an afternoon, painted whatever colour of weatherproof/exterior housepaint I have spare, and then I move on - So elegance of form is not a huge consideration, especially if it is going to include a tax of time and materials in order to achieve it.



No Life Club Posts: 1,316
The Perfect Box.
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2019, 11:58:23 PM »
Well now that you are cutting loose with more details I am beginning to understand what you want at least.

I like to use Pocket Screw Joinery lately and not use adhesive at all as I can then knock the box down if I need to later for any reason but the Sikaflex products are truly great for sure as adhesives go and should be pretty tough but maybe not as tough as the average person that might drop your box too?

I have seen things.

Pocket screws are crazy strong and all hidden and the joints are really tight too.

I don't know what could be easier than making a closed box and then sawing the top off a few inches from the intended top piece thus giving a three dimensional lid rather than a flat one but we each prefer what we [refer too.

I like a tip I learned from a friend and take all the random extra paint I have collected and just mix it together and then use a large knapp roller to paint the box,usually the color is some shade of grey to black and also usually pretty tough and covers well too.

If I need it to look good ad wear like iron I use a paint called Break Through here that is an Epoxy based paint that is truly amazing but it is pricey to be sure too.

I an not sure what the metal handles you showed and stacking the boxes have to do with each other really but I prefer a larger wooden handle that does not hurt my hand when lifting a heavy box and I can get a nice shoulder width grip on too.

Anyway there is no wrong way to make a box if you are happy with it in the end.

I too make most from whatever I have leftover but I also supplement this with new stuff if I need to.

These are some boxes that I have built a few times as anyone who sees them seems to want a set and they have been great in the shop and are easy to customize as needed too.

Rugged and light but the fronts drop open too as needed so they can be used while still stacked which is handy!

You can easily scale these to any size you want and also use sheet goods rather than 1x but this is what I had when I made these so......



The pallet constraint was just a thing of interest, I'm not terribly likely to need to stack on a pallet in this instance, and as pictured, I like to put handles on the boxes so meshing them together is not really going to work anyway.

I am shooting for the "upper limit of one person lift/carry".

So far I've been putting them together with construction adhesive (sikaflex) and washer head screws, and I have not been able to break them if I tried.

I have put skids on larger boxes in the past - which would allow MHE use, but mostly to avoid having a giant moisture trap. These ones should not be so large.

Though a simple hinged flat lid is by far the easiest, it's not a massive step out of my way to do something like https://cdn11.bigcommerce.com/s-80qxgw/images/stencil/1280x1280/products/101/1902/Wooden-BoxLarge-Flat-TopHinged-Lid-Baltic-6-5__04274.1494402899.jpg?c=2&imbypass=on

which would give it some rigidity.

I can also put an internal frame in, in the event that the material itself doesn't provide enough strength and rigidity.

However, I am a habitual tightarse, and these things are always made of "scrap" ply that I have around, cut, glued, and screwed in an afternoon, painted whatever colour of weatherproof/exterior housepaint I have spare, and then I move on - So elegance of form is not a huge consideration, especially if it is going to include a tax of time and materials in order to achieve it.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2019, 12:06:28 AM by ezdog »
No Life Club Posts: 3,902
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2019, 01:28:48 AM »
Aye, I saw those pics previously when you put them in one of the toolbox threads.

Reminds me of and old army design - the only picture I can find - https://irestorestuff.com/vintage-army-box-transformed-into-industrial-side-table/

stackable crates that have the side open to reveal shelves.

No Life Club Posts: 3,902
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2019, 03:11:20 AM »
Mrs slept in this morning, so I threw together the first box...

260x420x675

Depth feels good, width is okay, length is a possibly a bit much.

It looks nice, but when loaded might be a bit of a hand (arm?) full to manage.

It has nice principles - top and sides are (more or less) golden rectangles, and length + width = Pallet (1100x1100 for ISO containers, not Euro) so it would theoretically stack nicely for shipping.

but, it turns out that good principles on paper do not necessarily = good design or policy (who woulda thunk it? bureaucrats everywhere...)

As a bonus, due to whatever series of circumstances, I did not have my power saw or drill available, so I had to do the whole damn thing by hand.

Though I appreciate the fore-arm workout, I think I'll go pick up my things before doing the next ones.....


No Life Club Posts: 1,222
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2019, 11:06:48 PM »
The first picture that comes to my mind is the traditional sailor's chest. A quick look at some auctions puts the sizes around:
L: 80-90 cm; W: 45-50 cm;  D: 40 cm
Fairly close to some of your numbers in other words.

They were made to be carried but probably by some fairly strong 19th century sailors, I wouldn't want to carry one any long distances but that goes for any bulky chest ones it starts filling up with stuff.
Another fairly common feature that might be a lot more intricate than what you're looking for is the slanting walls. It will make them more difficult to build but should in theory allow a larger chest to be carried more like a smaller one. Another benefit to the slanted design would be to make sure they would interlock when stacking them. 

For a more specialised chest this Swedish tool chest made its way around the internet a few years ago and I still like the design a lot, especially the doors in the lid and how they help keeping the chest open and the tools accessible.

For more pictures, visit the auction site: Bukowskis
No Life Club Posts: 1,271
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2019, 12:09:02 PM »
Now that is a box - fun one!  :cheers:

"If only simple wasn't so hard" - me
(Partial disclosure: I design tools for a living).
No Life Club Posts: 3,902
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2019, 11:28:14 AM »
Double post. Don't know how to internet.

No Life Club Posts: 3,902
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2019, 11:28:46 AM »
I ended up making another box, approx 10% shorter and narrower, same depth. It feels pretty good.

I also made a doghouse, because I got distracted.

If you're lucky, and I remember, you can have pics tomorrow ;)

Once I've met my current Box needs, the next project will be some bedroom drawers.

I mean sure, I *could* just buy something for less than the cost of dinner and a drink, but where's the fun in that?


Edit: I had a sailors/treasure/pirate chest a few years ago out of some decking timbers. It was insanely heavy

I'm pretty sure it was still in the old house when they knocked it down.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2019, 11:45:01 AM by Sea Monster »
No Life Club Posts: 3,902
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2019, 09:37:30 AM »
Do not imagine for even a moment that my deep and abiding interest in boxes has in any way diminished.

I was away for a coupla weeks for work, but now I'm back, and another three boxes have been cut and assembled...this time sized for efficiency out of a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood (so, 24" x 12" x 13")

Hopefully this'll mark the end of my box needs for the short term, and I can turn my will to the chest of drawers....
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 6,621
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2019, 03:39:56 AM »
I'm a fan of plastic bins, preferably ones with lids that can stack.

I had one (lidless) for my chainsaw + accessories that is about 650mm long but found it uncomfortable carrying such a weight with my arms so wide apart. I eventually found a smaller one which is much better. I just measured it and it is only 50mm shorter, but what a difference that makes. I had to cut a slot in the end for the bar but I would have had to do that for the other bin if I was going to keep using it for that.

No Life Club Posts: 3,902
Re: The Perfect Box.
« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2019, 10:45:35 AM »
Oh Aye, the nigh-ubiquitous stack and nest is one of my favourites - http://www.viscount.com.au/products___services/materials_handling/crates/stakanesta_crates

Few establishments that have employed my consultation services have survived without incorporating them into their work systems in one way or another.


 

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