Introduction: How to Make Apple Boxes

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!

Comments

Marcos_El_Malo (author)2015-11-19

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

Marcos_El_Malo (author)2015-11-19

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

1-big-dog (author)2015-07-10

Tell me about that glue container...

nick ferry (author)1-big-dog2015-07-11

it is the GluBot made by FastCap - works pretty slick

tructable (author)2015-07-01

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?

nick ferry (author)tructable2015-07-01

I personally love routing through metal fasteners, lol

Bigpelons (author)2015-06-30

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

Very good.

nick ferry (author)Bigpelons2015-06-30

muito obrigado

SimonG5 (author)2015-06-30

Oh, phew, when I read the headline I thought it was going to be storage for Apple devices and I thought, that already exists, it's called a bin.

jbonato28 (author)SimonG52015-06-30

From now on I will call my trash can "The Apple Bin" .

nick ferry (author)SimonG52015-06-30

haha, too funny - yeah they are a bit different

charliedogg (author)2015-06-30

one of the best videos I've seen. Well done

nick ferry (author)charliedogg2015-06-30

thanks man - it is much appreciated!

DDW_OR (author)nick ferry2015-06-30

I liked the part about waiting for the glue to dry.

and the bloopers at the end.

DDW_OR (author)2015-06-30

Great job. I will be making some of the full size and using for storage boxes.

will attach the top with wood biscuits that are glued to the box and not the lid.

the lid will have a slightly larger biscuit slot. i figure one per side should be enough.

will be putting only one hand hold slot per end.

the only "fastener" i like is dovetail. especially the non-traditional.

still in the process of planning then building my shop, 16x24, cabinets and benches on two adjoining walls. will have most of my floor machines on casters.

nick ferry (author)DDW_OR2015-06-30

very cool - they would make great storage boxes

Tangski (author)2015-06-30

Very nice project, and I sure wish I had that biscuit tool! However good screws will have to do:) Nice steps and instructions. Would have liked a few more sizes etc, but I guess the 12x20" will have to do. How deep for box and shallow box? I am not sure I saw that part.:) You are a great woodworker as you love also to show no joints! Cool! Yup, just please add a few more sizes for those of us who are needing a few moe details., and can you show a picture of the round over bit you used..not sure which one that is...silly me I know!...sigh, but visuals rule my art worldLOL...Thanks Vicki

nick ferry (author)Tangski2015-06-30

thanks a bunch Vicki - they are 8", 4",2" and 1" tall - w/ those sizes you can get every one inch increment from 1-15" tall while laying completely flat - even higher if you place them on their sides - for the round over bits they were 1/4" and 1/8" - I don't have pictures of them but they are standard if you google them - hope that all helps - thanks for checking it out!

moss66 (author)2015-06-26

Nice work ? simple and clear instructions

Mindmapper1 (author)2015-06-22

Excellent very clear instructable. I made hundreds of these in different sizes back in the 1980s when they were needed in a call centre (for foot rests) where they employed dozens of little people. It made sitting at standard desks so much better for them.

nick ferry (author)Mindmapper12015-06-22

cool thanks - I'm glad you liked it - I'm pretty new to making instructables

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Bio: I like to build and make things with my hands. Think it, Build it, and repeat.
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