How to Make Apple Boxes

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Introduction: How to Make Apple Boxes

Apple boxes get tons of use in all sorts of fields relating to camera work. These are great for having talent sit on, stand on, setting props on or secure lighting fixtures or tri-pods. They also work really well around the home workshop for a place to sit or as a nice little step stool! My photographer friend asked me to build him a set and I choose to use 1/2" thick Baltic Birch plywood. It is a very nice grade of plywood and is has almost no defects or voids in the layers. I have seen people use 3/4" plywood before but the seems a bit on the heavy side.

If these are something you would want to make I have a short build video HERE and a free cultist w/ all the dimensions HERE. Thanks for checking it out and if you have any questions let me know in the comment section.

Step 1: Cut Pieces to Size

I started w/ 1/2" thick baltic birch plywood - this is a really high grade plywood w/ little imperfections and almost no voids - apple boxes are often used in photography, so I wanted to use something that would look great if it ended up in the photos - to save a little bit of money, a less expensive plywood could be used - a good chunk of this project is cutting plywood to size - if you don't own a table saw a circular saw could be used but a table saw makes it a heck of a lot easier - apple boxes traditionally have a 12" x 20" footprint

Step 2: Make the Pancake

the smallest apple box is an eighth apple, or more commonly known as a pancake - it is only 1" tall and isn't even technically a box - it is merely 2 pieces of 1/2" plywood glued together - using a 1/4" cove bit in my router I made voids in each end of both pieces - this way when the two came together it created and hand hold - this part is rather optional as a 1" box really doesn't need them - then it's just a matter of spreading some glue on both pieces and clamping it together - wide away any glue squeeze out w/ a damp rag to avoid having to scrape it off later

Step 3: Create Handles

Mark out locations to drill holes to create the handles - the 8" tall box gets four holes in each side - In my case I used a 1 1/4" forstner bit but any size between 3/4" and 1 1/2" should do just fine - draw lines connecting the holes and cut out w/ a scroll saw or what I used, a jigsaw - clean up the cuts with a file or sandpaper and round over the handles areas using a 1/4" round-over bit and a router - the use of a router in this step is optional but it does make the handles super comfy to hold onto - if you don't have a router hand sanding can smooth them out pretty good as well

Step 4: Box Assembly

I like to use a biscuit joiner to join all of my pieces together so no fasteners are visible - if you don't have one, use screws or brad nails to keep everything together - pre-drill for both screws and nails to prevent splitting the wood - use glue and clamp it all together making sure it is square

Step 5: Add Tops & Bottoms

again I used a biscuit joiner to attach my parts - there is absolutely no reason why you can't just use screws or nails again for this step - my use of biscuits is purely for aesthetic reasons - glue should be used either way and clamps if necessary

Step 6: Smoothing & Final Finishing

Routing a 1/8" round-over to all edges makes everything nice and smooth to the touch - using some sandpaper by hand works as well but just takes a bit longer - I also sanded everything else smooth at this point - I choose to use a wipe on polyurethane to finish it - wipe-on poly is really easy to use - if you haven't ever tried it on a wood project I encourage you to give it a shot - all you have to do is wipe it on with a paper towel or old teeshirt and wait for it to dry - once it has dried for approximately 8 hours I like to come back and sand it with 320 grit paper to remove any bumps - then wipe it clean and apply another coat or two - you could leave it with bare wood but I find they stay cleaner with a finish - and boom you are done - Thanks For Checking It Out!

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    23 Comments

    Oh, I forgot to add that another important use is for talent. If you're shooting two actors of very different heights, there are two ways of getting both their heads into frame: an apple box or digging a hole.

    yup - that is the most common way I have seen them used

    very cool, Nick. I always wanted to make a set for the hell of it, but never needed to as they were always easily available to me (working in the biz). Now I'm semi-retired and living far away from Hollywood.

    A couple of notes:

    1) tructable make a great point about the pass through on the full apple and and half apple. It's a really nice feature to have that doesn't add many more steps.

    2) The apple boxes I've encountered had 1/4" plywood faces and 1/2" or 5/8" sides and bracing. Bracing is absolutely necessary, of course, even for the half and quarter boxes. Anyway, this cuts down on both weight and expense. The joinery was glue and (iirc) 1 1/2" staples (another advantage over thicker faces).

    3) if one wants to use these professionally, it's a really good idea to adhere to the standard dimensions in case you need to rent or borrow more boxes!

    some good points - I don't think I have ever seen them with 1/4" surfaces

    Tell me about that glue container...

    it is the GluBot made by FastCap - works pretty slick

    Opinions are like the the distal end of the digestive tract...everybody's got one. Here's mine: We in the industry (said with great fervor in the voice) will cut hand holes in the center brace to allow the Grips to pass a line or ratchet strap through the box. This allows the box to be tied down or bundled together for extra security as needed. Other opinion: I prefer stapling or nailing my apple boxes together. What's more fun than fixing blow outs or routing through that metal fastener you put too close to the edge?

    I personally love routing through metal fasteners, lol

    Muito bom. Parece que é fácil. Já tentei fazer algo parecido, ficou horrível...

    Very good.