Reader Showcase: From a Limb to a Box // How to Make a Box From a Fallen Mesquite Branch

05.13.14 By //
How to Turn a Mesquite Branch into a Box

My neighbor brings to me from his ranch near Sinton, Texas, mesquite tree limbs and roots he finds on the ground, as well as really old (50+ years) cedar fence posts to see what I can do with them. Candle holders are a favorite but I also like to cut the timber into lumber that I can use to build boxes. The Showcase photo is made from one such Mesquite tree limb. I encourage everyone to try this with their favorite tree after it loses a limb. I learned recently that there is an Ebony tree that grows wild in South Texas. I look forward to giving that wood a try very soon.

How to Make a Box from a Mesquite Branch

First I cut the limb up into strips of lumber about 1/2″ or 1/4″ in thickness. Then I select which piece will be used for the sides, ends, bottom and top. The top and bottom have to less than 1/4″ in thickness as they will slide through channels I rout with a 1/4″ straight bit on the sides and ends. The sides and ends thickness’ just have to approximate each other. All have to be square and flat which is where I spend hours sanding and cutting. This is my justification for a planer for Father’s day.

Once you have all of the pieces the way you want them just glue them up and finish.

The final result is the well-known Pencil Box….

Estimated Cost

Mostly sandpaper, glue, and oil. Maybe $5

Length of Time

I would say I spent two hours a day for a week. I could do it in half that time if I just would not offer myself so many alternatives.

Lumber Used


Finishing Technique

Lots of sanding. Inside I sanded to 120 grit and the outside 320 grit. After sanding two applications of Danish oil and then once the oil was dry a nice coat of Johnson paste wax.

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