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Storage & Display Notes. Mon, Nov 5, 2012

May 14th 2013, 13:37


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Storage and Display Notes.
Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:05pm

following are contributions from Georges Robert and Dr. J Ayala
( no photos available)
All Boxed Up
It is my hope that after reading this article, you, dear reader, will take into
consideration the various ways in which boxes and other containers can be used
not only as storage and protective devices for your magic props but also how to
use them as props, how to decorate them and where to find them.
When it comes to boxes, all magicians should have some sort of box
addiction, or what some might call a ‘box fetish’ – I know I do. Consider all of the
nice, high quality (read: expensive) props that magicians use: care should be taken
when using them, cleaning them and storing them, whether in a display case or a
protective box. This does not mean that every box one buys, makes or owns need
be an expensive box, but it should serve the purpose; do not be afraid to spend
$100 or more on a good box to protect that $500 set of sterling silver Paul Fox
cups. Think of all of your props as investments, whether they are something you
make yourself out of paper or something made out of brass that you purchased
from a magic shop. All investments should be looked after and taken good care
Whatever the intended purpose for your box or container, they can be
made of many different materials: wood, metal, cardboard, plastic, clay and
more. De Nomolos (stage name of the bizarre magician Ed Solomon) even makes
containers completely out of sculpted epoxy putty. In the pages which follow, I
will show you some different photographs illustrating how to use existing boxes
or self-manufactured boxes of various materials as storage boxes, as props, or
So, where do I find these different containers? Look around you –
serviceable boxes, tubes and bags are all over. Many craft stores sell wooden and
papier-mâché boxes of various shapes and sizes. Beauty product containers with
screw top lids make for some great prop and storage boxes for small items. How
about the small boxes that your English tea bags are sold in? Cookie tins, black
or clear film canisters (What the heck is film?!), old jewelry boxes and ring boxes,
shadowboxes, cash/money boxes, boxes sold in craft stores that are made to
look like books, plastic totes (such as the Tupperware and Sterilite brands) and
more. Keep your eye out in your local department stores, visit a garage sale or an
antique shop or scour the internet - they can literally be found anywhere!
The other thing to consider is the inside of the containers. Do you leave
them unfinished or do you pad and line them with soft materials? Again, it
depends on the purpose or intended use. You can buy upholstery foam in craft
stores and using a sharp hobby knife, you can cut out holes to fit a certain object,
such as a coin box or a deck of cards. These custom inserts can also be made for
you by companies that manufacture fiber cases and ATA road cases. Premade
jewelry box liners can be used, as can thin pieces of wood covered with velvet or
other smooth and soft fabric.
Options for decorating and finishing your boxes are as varied as the boxes
themselves. Most all of them can be painted, wood can be carved, stained,
lacquered, burned (scorched) or pitted, others can be finished with sculpting
media such as epoxy putty or clay, stick-on or glue-on shapes or designs and
certainly all can be left as they are. If the box is doubling as a prop box, be sure
that the design and finish match the style of the props they contain and the mood
of the show(s) in which they are utilized. For example: you probably would not
use a bright yellow polka dot clown box in a bizarre act.

Box ‘A’
Measurements and dimensions will not be specified for this box because the size
of the box depends on your needs. To make this crude, square wooden box you
will need:
A sheet or pre-cut pieces of 3/16” to 1/4” thick hardwood, such as basswood
Superglue (in this case, it acts as a clamp, but by all means, use clamps if
you prefer)
Small hobby screws or nails
Wood putty (the type that dries and can be sanded)
Screwdriver or tack hammer
Wood stain – light shade
Brass hardware (hinges, clasps, etc.)
First you will need to determine what size you want your finished box to be. If
you are starting from a whole sheet of wood, you will need to use a pencil and
ruler to draw lines for the necessary parts. Cut them out carefully with a scroll
saw or band saw. For this particular design, you will need two identical square
pieces for the top and bottom and eight (8) pieces for the sides: four (4) pieces
the same length as the sides of the squares (long pieces), and four pieces that are
short enough to fit between two long pieces when they are parallel to each other
(short pieces). See ‘A1’ for details. Make sure all edges are straight and surfaces
are smooth by sanding them with a rough grit sandpaper, then pre-finish with a
medium grit.
As mentioned before, the glue is intended for use when you do not have
proper clamps to hold the side pieces to the top and bottom pieces for drilling
and screwing/nailing the parts together. It is crude but it works. If you have small
clamps and prefer to use them, skip this step and continue to the next one. Using
the superglue, squeeze a line of glue from one corner to the other on the face of
one of the square pieces; attach one of the long side pieces and make sure it is
square. You can use a jig or another object with a right angle to ensure a square
fit. Repeat the same on the opposite edge of the square. Repeat with the other
square. Next, put a line of glue along the short edges and attach the short pieces
(which will be perpendicular to the long pieces), once again making sure they are
square. See ‘A2’ for details.
Use a small bit to start screw holes (or nail holes) from the top surface of
the square pieces (the surface that will be the outsides of the top and bottom
parts). No need to go too far in – just enough to help hold the screw or nail to get
you started. Carefully install the screws or nails. For the box in this description,
three hobby nails per side were used. If you do not want the screws to show in
the final product, use countersunk screws (if using them) and cover the heads
with the wood putty. This is also a good time to see if there are any other gaps
that need to be filled in with putty. Once the putty is dry, sand it smooth and then
finish sanding the rest of the box. See ‘A3’ for details.
Line up the top and bottom sections to make sure they fit together well.
Determine where you will place the hardware later, just to get an idea of where
they will be later. Now is the time to carve, distress, age, paint, stain, and lacquer
or seal the box. In this example, the box was scorched with a small butane
blowtorch until the wood was singed and darkened. This was accomplished by
holding the torch about 1/2” from the surface and moving it back and forth
slowly. After the wood cooled, one coat of light oak stain was applied to the
entire box by dipping a folded piece of paper towel into the stain and wiping it on.
After the stain was dry, I made all of the holes in the correct spots for the
hardware, the hinges and the clasp. Three coats of matte clear sealer was sprayed
onto the entire box, allowing each layer to dry fully. Finally, the hardware was
attached. See ‘A4’ for a photograph of the finished product. Note: This box is not
perfectly square and that was the intention with this particular box – it was
meant to look old and distorted for use in three different shows. The nails used
on this box were model railroad spikes, used by model railroaders to attach rails
to the roadbed when hand-laying track; the heads were left exposed. The
particular box is used to store various sets of silver coins, such as Morgan dollars,
Walking Liberties and 10 Francs Hercules among others.

Other Boxes
‘Box 1’ was made from an existing box with a rounded lid. It was found at my local
Michael’s Crafts store. The brass hardware was removed and two coats of stain
were applied, and once those dried, a good coat of clear matte finish was applied
and the hardware put back on. A cheap black felt was used to line the interior,
attached with Elmer’s glue. The felt was not installed perfectly, but it does the job
of protecting the handmade brass candleholder, which is not a dollhouse item in
this case. As you can tell, this box is used for my Gypsy Thread presentation.
‘Box 2’ is an Altoids box in the middle of being stripped of its paint with a bit of
nail polish remover and a LOT of elbow grease – I have no idea what kind of paint/
ink is on there, but it is very resilient and resistant. A Dremel tool is also being
used to shine it up. It will be lined with soft velvet and used to store a couple of
sets of special keys used in a few different effects.
The box labeled ‘Okito Set’ is a sort of hybrid box. I constructed the body of the
box in similar fashion to our project box, but then I found the nice inlay with some
floral-looking carving in it, so I reconstructed a frame ‘lid’ and used the carved
piece to complete it. It will be finished with a nice stain and a high gloss lacquer
to give it an elegant look. This is used to store just five (5) of the many Okito
boxes that I own and use – this particular set made by Roy Kueppers. In order
to secure the boxes, I used a spare piece of wood sized to fit inside the body of
the box (with room to spare for the velvet which would later cover it) and traced
the outside of the lid in five different spots. I then used a Dremel tool to cut the
circles out. I continued to enlarge the holes just a tad more and checked the Okito
coin boxes for fit. Once I knew the holes were all the right size, I laid out a piece of
velvet soft side down on the table and placed the wood piece on top. I positioned
it where I needed it then used a sharp hobby knife to cut an ‘X’ into the fabric
inside of the holes. Turning everything over, I used a very thin layer of simple glue
to attach the velvet to the board, trimmed the outside to size, cut the corners on
a diagonal to aid in folding the excess under the board and stapled it in place.

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You, Rui Cruz, Cari A. Hahn, Levent Cimkentli and 5 others like this.

Nathen Sinclaire Excellent advice thank you
November 5, 2012 at 8:16pm via mobile · Like

Jeff McBride Thank you Dr. Joaquin for this great info!!!
November 5, 2012 at 8:16pm · Like · 2

Kent Carter · Friends with Wayne Dobson and 14 others
What a relief to know i am not the ony one with a box fetish when it comes to magic props! I am going to show this article to my wife it may save my marriage.
November 5, 20