How to Make a Wooden Pencil Case With a Swirling Edge

Written by jane smith
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How to Make a Wooden Pencil Case With a Swirling Edge
When you need to store your pencils, make a swirled-edge wooden box. (Colour pencils image by Dumitrescu Ciprian from

Making a wooden pencil case with a swirled edge requires you to follow a template, make small cuts in wood with a coping saw or jigsaw and secure veneer to a wooden item using glue and clamps. Children as young as 8 can make a pencil case with eye to eye supervision and full assistance while using power tools. Older teens and adults will need a demonstration of the techniques before they proceed with supervision.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Straight edge
  • Swirled-edge template or hand-drawn swirl design, 8 inches long by 1 inch wide
  • 8-inch by 3-inch by 1/8-inch veneer in your choice of woods, 2 pieces
  • Carpenters pencil
  • Coping saw, band saw or jigsaw
  • Ready-made wooden pencil box
  • Surface plane or block plane
  • Sandpaper
  • 8-inch by 3-inch by 1-inch wooden clamping blocks, 2
  • 1 block solid paraffin
  • 3 C-clamps, 2-inch to 5-inch
  • Carpenters glue
  • Roller or brush

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  1. 1

    Use a straight edge to draw a line, 1-inch wide, along the length of each 8-inch by 3-inch by 1/8-inch veneer piece. Hand-draw a swirled design in the space between the line and the long edge of the veneer or find a swirled design online that pleases your eye and copy it as directed.

    How to Make a Wooden Pencil Case With a Swirling Edge
    Veneer is a thin sheet of wood used for decorative trim. (wood texture image by Aleksey Bakaleev from
  2. 2

    Make a series of straight cuts with a coping saw, band saw or jigsaw from the outer edge of the veneer toward the inward-curving portion of the swirled line you drew, about 1/4-inch apart, stopping just before the blade hits the line. These are called "relief cuts." Relief cuts will prevent your saw from binding when cutting intricate curves, according to Gene Homicki, Amateur Woodworker editor.

  3. 3

    Cut along one concave curve at a time along the swirled line, allowing the wood from the relief cuts to fall to the floor as you pass through them with the saw. When you reach an outward-curving portion, cut along the curve until the saw begins to bind before cutting to the outer edge of the veneer. Allow each small piece to fall away as you cut.

  4. 4

    Remove any hardware from the ready-made pencil box. Use calipers to verify that it is 8 inches by 2 inches by 3/4 inch in at least three separate places along each side. If the caliper measurements are off by 1/16-inch or more, use a surface plane to return the box to its correct dimensions by planing away any extra material one pass at a time.

  5. 5

    Sand and finish all sides of each piece of veneer and all sides of the pencil box with coarse through extra-fine-grit sandpaper.

  6. 6

    Rub each clamping block with paraffin until well-waxed. This prevents the block from gluing to your project during clamping.

  7. 7

    Place the pencil box between the veneer pieces, sothe short ends and long sides are flush. Dry-clamp the box by placing the clamping blocks against the top and bottom veneer pieces, so the short ends and long sides are square before securing one clamp near the left and right ends of the box and one additional clamp at the centre point of the long side. Dry-clamping allows you to make adjustments to measurements and parts' positions in your assembly before you commit yourself, according to woodworker Ian Kirby of Woodworker's Journal.

  8. 8

    Remove the clamps and apply a thin coating of carpenters glue to the top using a roller. Position the veneer as before. Apply glue to the bottom and position the second piece of veneer as before. Return your clamping blocks to their correct positions and tighten the clamps until the veneer is held firmly against the pencil box without forcing the glue from the joint. Wipe away any excess glue.

  9. 9

    Apply three to five coats of clear acrylic wood sealant to the exterior of the pencil box. Replace any hardware removed in previous steps.

Tips and warnings

  • If you join woods that expand at different rates with their grains running the same direction, you take a chance that one or the other will crack or shift as the humidity level rises and falls, advises exotic woodworker Paul Hinds. This is also true when joining pieces of the same type of wood with their grains crossed. Use the strongest and most stable type of joint to complete your project. The three main joint types are material closure, force closure and form closure. Material closure joints are glued. Force closure joints are bolted, nailed, screwed or wedged, and form closure joints are slotted, dowelled or pinned, according to Bosch Consumer Goods and Building Technology.

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