Laser Cut Seed Box

Every year we plant extensive vegetable gardens from seed. As a result we end up with tons of seeds packets kicking around. It felt about time I tackle some storage to can keep them organized, and therefore easy to use year to year as possible. My passion for seeds aside, this is a laser cut box project. Swap out the graphic and this could be used for anything.

Also… to add some visual interest to the laser cut box joints I have each set of sides as a different thickness of wood, and type of wood. This was a small design element that paid off in a big way, and is something that can be carried into any range of laser cut projects.

I designed the main box for our Laguna EX laser that can cut through 1/2 material, but also designed an alternative design that is Glowforge friendly.

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Day 1

I started by dumping out my seed collection and measuring the seed packets to make sure the finished boxes would be big enough to hold them.  After thinking through what I wanted them to look like I moved over to the white board to get a rough concept sketch with my key measurements on it.  Once I had a good idea of what I wanted the finished boxes to look like it was time to move over to the computer to make the 3D model.

To design these I used OnShape, I find that Onshape has a fairly intuitive interface that allows me to quickly design simple shapes.  One of the other things that I love about Onshape is the ability to quickly add box joints using the built in plugin.  Once I had the model set I transferred it to a drawing and prepared the file for laser cutting in lightburn.

I wanted to play with some different design elements in this build so I designed the initial version to be a combination of thicknesses ranging from ⅛ inch to ½ inch.  I thought that would add a visual interest to the otherwise simplistic design.

I started by cutting out the ⅛ inch pieces and worked my way up to the ½ inch pieces, mainly because the thinner materials would cut faster. 

Once the pieces were all cut it was time to do a dryfit to see how I did with the design.  For the most part everything fits. The joints on the front and rear panel were a little looser than I liked though allowing a bit of “wiggle”, so tomorrow I will address that in the design and have another go at it.

Day 2

The next day I started at the computer and narrowed the box joints for a tighter fit.  After updating the cut file I went to the laser and started by cutting just the back panel to conserve material in case it still wasn’t quite right.  The redesign did fix the problem so I masked off a second piece of the ½” material and cut the front panel out as well.

Once the new pieces were cut I moved into assembly mode.  Since I was using a variety of materials in this build some of the parts were prefinished and some were raw wood.  I masked off the main faces of the parts and hit the tabs with a 220g sandpaper to rough up the finish so that the glue would be able to adhere better.

After sanding I glued it all together using gorilla wood glue, I chose gorilla wood glue for this project because the glue dries clear which can help to minimize the amount of work after if there is a little bit of squeeze out missed when wiping it down.  Once it was assembled I “clamped” it together with painters tape and let it sit for about an hour to set up.

After letting the glue harden for about an hour I removed the tape and prepared the box for finish.  My original plan was to rough up the prefinished wood and apply a wipe on poly to the whole box, but then I remembered that when Brooke made her laser cut backpack the finish pooled in spots.  I decided to mask off the prefinished parts and only apply the wipe on poly to the bare wood instead.

I ended up applying three coats of Minwax Satin Wipe on poly before removing the painters tape and calling it a day.

Day 3

The project was basically done at this point, but I have A LOT of seed packets so I thought a second larger size was in order.  So I started by making a second version of the same box that was longer.  The steps were the same as on the previous days so I wont go into details, but one thing I will say is that the biggest advantage to using a program like OnShape is that you can easily make adjustments and change the sizes of your workpiece to make different variations.  

While I was in there I also made a second version of the two sizes that don’t require the ½ inch, a glowforge friendly version if you will.

All of the files for all 4 iterations are available over in the project downloads.  The graphic can easily be swapped out if you want to use the boxes for another purpose other than seeds.

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