Jump to content
Geoff Tirrell

apple box construction

Recommended Posts

Ok so I am finally getting around to building a couple of boxes next week and am wondering about a couple of things as I don't have any boxes in front of me.

1)should there be a vertical reinforcement panel in the center of the full boxes.. i.e.. from the top there would be a front back and 3 sides. I for some reason think I have seen this somewhere before though can think of no practical reason to do so as long as your top and bottom are 3/4" ply

2) wood... is birch ply ok I see no reason why not but somebody else mentioned maple to me in an off topic conversation last week. The maple would be harder stuff but I see no reason why birch should not work. Actually from what I was reading in the b&h feedback forums for some of their boxes it seems that a lot of companies are using birch or maple in their sales photos and delivering standard osb type ply boxes.

which is in case anybody is wondering part of the reason I decided to build. Living in dallas I would have to pay shipping and by shipping I mean it would be the cost of the wood to build. That and I have always liked woodworking and have the tools.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are using plywood all around the face is just a vaneer and has no affect on the strength of the wood.

True at that point it is more about the number of plys and the thickness of the wood and any voids that were inside. I have actually seen and heard of some pretty bad void issues in recent years particularly with chinese plywood. I had thought though I might be wrong that with the species specific plywoods eg. maple birch etc that all the plys were made of the same stuff not just a veneer situation in which case it would effect hardness and strength. Though I may well be wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I built one a couple of years ago that got stolen on some show. It was made of birch, 3/4" on the "vertical supports" and 1/2" on the two larger surface areas. Birch worked great for me. I ended up staining it and it turned out quite nice. Since it's something you enjoy doing, I say go for it. In retrospect, I probably would've just bought one though. It's not much more, even with shipping, but that's just me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Species of wood is less important then quality of the plywood. Use cabinet grade for fewer voids. Good boxes use 1/2" plywood with a center reinforcement to keep the weight down and maintain strength. 3/4" for all surfaces will give you a 50% heavier box.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

+1 on cabinet grade plywood. Personally I would build them with 3/4 inch sides and ends and use 1/2 inch skins on the top and bottom. I would also have a 3/4 inch thick center rib. Nice balance between weight and strength. Cabinet grade birth or baltic birch would work great. Maple is stronger than birch, but heavier. Radiata pine is another option that might shave a little bit of weight off but may be prone to slight warping over the long haul. Whatever you use be sure to seal them to prevent warping or delamitation of the plies.

If you're only building a couple of boxes and handling them yourself, weight may not be that big of an issue. If you end up building a lot of boxes that others will be handling you can keep the grips happy by shaving some of the weight off each box without compromising structural integrity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was a grip one of my jobs was building apple boxes for a new G+E company. We used the standard sizing, with a full width divider/rib across the short axis in the center. This is important since if the boxes you make get mixed up in a grip mosh they might end up holding up a car or a stage; something heavy, and you want yours to be as strong as theirs. I personally like the design that has a rectangular hand hole hear the edge on each end, spaced so your fingers can go in the hole and your thumb is outside the box, which also enables you to pick up two boxes with each hand.

phil p

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Phil,

Did you use the divider ribs on just the full boxes or the half's as well? So far I am looking to go with the 3/4 sides and ends with Half top and bottom, and yes standard sizes was the plan. Also you didn't use any box joints on yours did you? From the ones I have used in the past and the photos I can find online they all seem to just be straight glue and nail jobs but that does not seem as strong to me. Though I am also not sure it is worth it to cut 1/2" box joints around the the sides.

RIght now I am probably making at least 2 sets as a camera buddy wants to add some to his kit as well. I am also debating making some of the nested boxes while I am at it because there are times I work out of my car and would like a box or 2 for minor stuff but simply don't have the space for them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any channel or dado cuts you can make will increase the amount of area being glued and ultimately help increase the overall strength of the box. Most boxes I've seen are glued and nailed (or stapled). MadlyFins actually glues and countersinks screws then caps all the screw holes and finish sands the wood caps.

I like nesting boxes for portability and storage but the inner three boxes will be shorter (length and width are usually 1-3/4 inches shorter) than the standard apple box dimensions. This will only be an issue if you try to use them in those positions alongside standard sized apple boxes. The full size box of a nesting series will not have the strength for really heavy items since it is missing the internal reinforcing rib and its one removable end cap is only loosely attached (usually by magnets or a pressure latch). But for working out of your car with limited weight loads nesting boxes are a great way to go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Phil,

Did you use the divider ribs on just the full boxes or the half's as well? So far I am looking to go with the 3/4 sides and ends with Half top and bottom, and yes standard sizes was the plan. Also you didn't use any box joints on yours did you? From the ones I have used in the past and the photos I can find online they all seem to just be straight glue and nail jobs but that does not seem as strong to me. Though I am also not sure it is worth it to cut 1/2" box joints around the the sides.

RIght now I am probably making at least 2 sets as a camera buddy wants to add some to his kit as well. I am also debating making some of the nested boxes while I am at it because there are times I work out of my car and would like a box or 2 for minor stuff but simply don't have the space for them.

As I recall we did the divider rib on all sizes--the problem was the same: that unsupported span of ply was weak in the center. The boxes I made were 3/4 all around, but I see ones with 1/2 top and bottom these days--lighter for sure. We were mass producing these boxes (for a job happening in just a few days of course) so no joinery--just nail gun and glue. That seemed to work fine, and while the joinery looks cool remember that an apple box is really an expendable--they will all get trashed eventually. I worked for a guy who made some very nice nesting boxes for a van-based G+E rig: this was ok if you only needed to use his boxes and completely sucked when we had to subrent extras from someplace else--diff sizes made them hard to use. Also the open side (for nesting) often limited how they could be used. Around here everyone--even guys with small lighting vans--gave up on the nesting boxes and went with the standard sizes, even if they could have fewer of them onboard. I would strongly advise you to paint your boxes some really offbeat color--at wrap no one reads labels on apple boxes, stands, furni pads, A-clamps, Cardellinis etc--they just get vacuumed back into the grip truck at light speed.

phil p

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All sizes get center reinforcement, except pancakes (a 1/8 box) of course. They are just 2 sheets of 1/2" glued together.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Way way too expensive.

Though cool in concept. Though I would much rather have a carbon fiber car.

Any channel or dado cuts you can make will increase the amount of area being glued and ultimately help increase the overall strength of the box. Most boxes I've seen are glued and nailed (or stapled). MadlyFins actually glues and countersinks screws then caps all the screw holes and finish sands the wood caps.

I like nesting boxes for portability and storage but the inner three boxes will be shorter (length and width are usually 1-3/4 inches shorter) than the standard apple box dimensions. This will only be an issue if you try to use them in those positions alongside standard sized apple boxes. The full size box of a nesting series will not have the strength for really heavy items since it is missing the internal reinforcing rib and its one removable end cap is only loosely attached (usually by magnets or a pressure latch). But for working out of your car with limited weight loads nesting boxes are a great way to go.

Yeah you pretty much summed up where I stand on the subject. I have pretty much decided on building 2 sets one standard and one nested. As well as probably 1 or 2 additional for a couple of shooters I know who want to add some to their personal kits. I like the nesters but only for certain situations, usually small shoots where they are not being used in high stress functions. The common photographic one that comes to mind is propping up a plant or background object so it is slightly more in frame for an interview, the same goes for occasionally needing to provide a step up for short talent. As for most other functions I am a huge fan of relatively standard boxes in standard dimensions.

Don't know about funny colored paint as I have always loved the look of marine polyurethane, though I have thought of getting a large brand made with my company name on it for the top and sides.... I do live in Texas after all.

BTW... In case anybody is wondering what a mixer would wont with a load of boxes. I started as a shooter and still do EFP jobs about half of the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rehashing an old thread 7+ years later haha. As a beginner woodworker, I too decided to build my own set and jumped right in before I knew what I was doing. I bought a 4x8 sheet of 1/2" birch plywood from the local big box store(the most expensive 1/2" plywood they had) and made all my cuts before I realized the difference between birch plywood and baltic birch plywood. I realized my "birch" plywood was mostly poplar. While it's very lightweight, it's just not as durable or stiff as baltic birch. Well since I made it this far, I'm not turning back. I ended up getting some oil-based enamel paint in flat black. I plan on sealing the boxes with primer, then at least 2 coats of enamel. Hopefully this will help the boxes hold up to some abuse. Also, I'm using Titebond III wood glue, as it's waterproof and will hold stronger than regular wood glue.

 

I'll end up building another set out of baltic birch or radiata ACX plywood in the near future that will have greater durability, but I welcome these mistakes as long as I learn from them.

 

PS: Don't buy wood from big box stores. Learning this the hard way but there's better wood for cheaper out there. Just do some looking around.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I built a "boom box" once, double full sized with a 2" hole in the middle of the top and bottom.  I built it out of 3/4" ply and it never got used.  Too frickin' heavy.

 

D.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...