Old Fashioned Recipe Box




Introduction: Old Fashioned Recipe Box

It's the time in my life when all of my friends seem to be getting married, so I'm constantly on the lookout for nice wedding gifts that are thoughtful and personalized yet inexpensive.  (One day, I will be a lavish gift-giver.  Presently, however, I'm on a just-out-of-law-school-and-paying-student-loans budget.  My friends are getting this to compensate for the small gift card.)

I was a little hesitant to make a recipe box.  (Do people still use these?  On the rare occasions that I decide to make something that isn't eggs on toast, I just plop my laptop on my counter and try not to cover it in flour.)  I decided to go for it because it seems like one of those things that couples should have when they start out. My own memories of my mom's kitchen involve an overstuffed recipe box and a very tattered chocolate chip cookie recipe card.  Also, it seems to suit this couple.  Fingers crossed.

  1. Woodburner
  2. Recipe Box (I used a standard soft wood box from a craft store.)
  3. Sandpaper 
  4. Stain
  5. Clear coat (I used polyurethane.)
  6. Scrapbook paper (for liner)
  7. Tacky Glue 
  8. Scissors
  9. Gold Acrylic (optional)
  10. Small screwdriver  

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Step 1: Sand, Google and Draw

1) Remove hardware.

2) Sand the wood.  (I did this after burning.  I should have sanded first.  I'm learning.)

2) Draw design lightly in pencil.

I'm not particularly good at drawing, so I cheat a bit.  (Shh... it's a secret.)  I search for the image using Google's "line drawing" filter in image search, then draw the fruits and vegetables freehand on the wood (lightly with pencil).  You could always print out the individual images that you like and trace them onto the wood.

To make the design cohesive, I added little flourishes of tiny hearts and swirls around the entire box. 

Step 2: Woodburn

If you've never woodburned before, start with a less visible part of the box.  Don't linger in one area too long, and try moving your arm instead of your wrist when you're making lines.

Erase all of the pencil lines as much as possible once you're finished with each section.

Tip: If you have access to a decent woodburner, use it.  (They're easier to hold, heat up really fast and have better tips.)  If not, no worries.  This project is small and completely do-able using a cheap iron as long as you have patience and don't try to make lines too fast.  (I borrowed a decent one for my last project.  By the time I thought to borrow it again, it was late and I had already started using this one.) 

Step 3: Stain

I'm not great at applying stain.  It take more finesse than it seems like it should.  I think the dark patches come from uneven sanding.  I find that the best results come coating with a foam brush and then wiping with a towel. 

After applying the stain, I decided that I should have probably opted for a lighter color.  I love red wood, but this wasn't the project for it. You might want to choose a lighter one.

Step 4: Cut and Glue Paper Liner

As my Dad always said: measure twice, cut once.  Glue with thin layer of tacky glue.

Step 5: Apply Gold (optional)

Since my stain job was a little uneven, I decided to add a light coat of gold.  It sparkles a bit, the gold sticks in all of the woodburned crevices nicely, and the uneven stain is less noticeable! 

Step 6: Apply Clear Coat

Polyurethane, like stain, is fussy.  I had a small container of this stuff from an old project, but you may want to just spray the box with a clear gloss.  

If you use polyurethane, bubbles are the enemy.  Be careful when you're stirring the gloss to avoid creating bubbles, apply thin coats, and don't brush it too much.  Also, don't use a foam brush.  (Go for something with natural bristles.  I learned this the hard way.) 

Step 7: Reassemble

After the box has had a few days to dry, add the hardware back.

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    6 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you so much for your guide :) for my mine and my boyfriends anniversary I decided to make him a recipe box using pyrography before I even stumbled upon your guide! This will help me so much especially since this is my first wood burning project.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    guys i really need ur help... i've tried to use soldering iron tool to woodburn..but it didn't "roll" on the wood and i have no idea why..it has to do with the type of wood? please help ..


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    What do you mean by "roll?" Does it look choppy and get thinner/thicker when you go over the grain of the wood?