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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

The Windowbox Archipelago

[Editor’s Note: Part 5 of our continuing series: How to turn four hours of banging nails three years ago into two weeks of blog posts.]
{Author’s Note: It’s so cold in Massachusetts today, the flashers are just describing themselves to passersby. But we’ll need windowboxes eventually, won’t we? There is no editor.}

Good day sirs, or madams. I must make furniture today. I have a bunch of legs and aprons ready to be assembled into tables in the wood laboratory, and must get to them. Now, I could spend the whole morning staring at the computer screen until drops of blood appear on my forehead, trying to conjure up a joke about legs and aprons and The Rockettes all getting married at the same time, but I can’t spare the time, really. So on to the windowbox.

What the hell are those? you just said. Never you mind. just make five of them and be still. They are 4-5/8″ long to the long point, and are angled at 15 degrees like the mark says. They’re made from leftover 2-1/2 inch stock. You have a lot of scraps left over, no doubt, because you didn’t measure anything twice, and cut a bunch of stock too short, and wasted it. (whistles, walks away with hands in pockets)

Ahem. You will notice that you cut a strip 4-5/8″ wide, an eternity and one internet post ago. Perhaps they are related somehow, ya think? We used to call a revelation like that “Light dawns over Marble Head” at work in these parts.

When you’re new on the job, inevitably some old coot would send the “new guy” out to the truck to get a Board Stretcher, or a Johnson Rod, or a Gazinta, or a Left Handed Screwdriver, or some other imaginary tool, and the other old hands would have a snicker at the poor young lad as he nodded as if he understood, and went out to the truck on a fool’s mission. Of course, the kid is never that dumb, he just plays along with the old knucklehead, because five minutes alone at the truck is five fewer minutes listening to the old buzzard flapping his gums. And he returns empty handed, feigning sheepishness, and the tired, disreputable, and infantile men would jape: “Light dawns over Marble Head!,” and then talk about it and rehash it for a month.

Of course the kid is putting himself through college by working in construction, speaks three languages, and can figure differential equations by the hour, but to them, he’s a dope. Eventually, they will all be working for this boy.

Anyhow, Marblehead is a lovely north shore town here in Massachusetts, but you people in flyover country can substitute “the bulkhead” for “Marblehead”. When you’re insulting people, it really doesn’t require that much precision.

Where were we? Oh yes. The mystery blocks. Do this with them:

One on each end of the bottom strip (the 4-5/8″ wide piece), one in the middle, and split the difference with the other two. Ensure that all the beveled edges are all on one side, or it will be wrong, and you will be unhappy. Glue the blocks on, and pound some galvanized nails, less than 1-1/4″ long, either through the MDO into the pine, or through the pine into the MDO. Or use screws, whatever. Get your drill motor. Did you know that’s what it’s actually called? The drill is actually the thing you call a drill bit. You can tell the old guys that at work, to impress them with your booklearnin,’ when they call it “the drill,” or “the screwgun,” or the “hand me that thing right there,” and point like an infant at what they want.

They may be impressed with your knowledge, but I doubt it.

They will most likely say: “Shut the !@#$ up and give me that @#$%ing thing there and put a sock in it.” Then they’ll send you to the truck to get a Knot Burnisher or a Sledgeruler.

Oh yes, the drill. Drill some holes in the bottom. (yes, that’s the bottom) I drilled twelve 1/4″ holes. You can drill as many as you like, any old way. But somehow, you’ll sleep better if every time you drill things, whether they show or not, you put them in rows, neatly. It shouldn’t matter, they’re just there to let the water out of the box. No one will ever see them, probably. It shouldn’t matter, but somehow it does. Ask a Tibetan monk or a feng shui necromancer why, I don’t know.

Right about now, you’re asking yourself, is this thing ever going to be done? Well, to tell the truth, I finished it yesterday, three hours after I started it. Including painting it twice. But then again, I didn’t have me waxing nostalgic and poetic about the darn thing the whole way through, like you do. I simply made it.

Glue the pine 1 by 3 strips to the front and back MDO pieces, (7-1/2″ back, 7-3/4″ front) like so, and nail, or screw them through the MDO into the pine, with fasteners less than 1-1/4″ long.


Like dudes, you need two of these. They’re totally gnarly endcaps for this bitchin’ box, dudes. I like, drew all over it so you’ll, like, know the score, but it’s like, optional to do that, dude.

Sorry. Use the nine inch wide strip to make these, with lots left over. There’s that 15 degree angle again. It appears from time to time, like channeling Spiccoli does. I nipped the top right corner off this piece after I took the picture. To do so, connect a line perpendicular from the right (angled) side to the top side, 1-1/4″ long. That’s where the MDO line I’ve drawn meets the top. That’s hard to follow, but you’ll see it in the next picture.

Assembly time. The pine battens are always facing out. Screw (or nail, if you prefer) through the end caps into the ends of the pine. Glue everything. Screw through the back batten into the bottom battens .The beveled ends of the bottom battens face front, to accept the angled front, if you hadn’t picked up on that already. See Marblehead remark above.

I’m using aluminum screws, because they are cheap and don’t rust away to nothing in a week. I countersink the heads using a reversible drill bit that makes a pilot hole, then you flip it around and it drives the screw, without removing the whole bit from the drill motor chuck. It’s the greatest invention in the history of mankind, the wonder bra excepted. You can click on the Amazon box in the right hand column and search for “countersink drill driver” or something near to it and find it. You’re on you own as far as the wonder bra goes. Victoria’s Secret sends two catalogs every day to every single address in the US, and hands them out to homeless people as well, I imagine, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to lay your hands on one. A catalog, I mean. Oh, never mind.

Make it like that. I added two little 1 by 3 blocks to the front, to make a frame. Measure them to fit. ( In theory they’re 2-3/4″ long, but you measure them to fit because, well, we’re slapping this together and who knows what you ended up with) Glue them and nail them. You can see why we nipped the corner off the end caps, to align with the angle of the front.

OK, that’s a window box. But it’s too darn plain. If we wanted a primitive, we would have just faced nailed five roughsawn boards together. We’re going to dress this up a little.

Tomorrow. I guess. Sure. Why not?

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