Cigar Boxes

Steven Ragatz explains how to build "cigar boxes".

Home-made CIGAR BOXES ?

Cigar boxes are the easiest of the standard juggling props to build your-self. I think they are even easier than making bean bags - that is - ROUND bean bags...

I build my own boxes. You can use expensive plywood if you want to get fancy, but I have always used wall paneling. This is the stuff with the imitation wood grain printed on one side. Often the pattern will include grooves to simulate wood planks. This usually means that there is lost of waste material. Still, one 4x8 sheet costs about $15.00 American and will make three or four sets of boxes (12-16). Check your local hardware store. You will want paneling that is multi ply. Don!t buy fiber board, compressed board, luan, or particle board. None of these work well. Look for a middle weight. Some of the really thin sheets can make some really nice light weight boxes and heavier weights make sturdier boxes. I like mine in the middle ground. Pick an interesting pattern. You can get all sorts of colors, wood grains - even brick! <- Juggling bricks look pretty good!

Basically, you build a box. I don!t remember the exact measurements that I use but they are aprox. 5 X 7 1/2 X 2 3/4 inches. You will need to cut side panels, edge panels and end panels. The edge panels overlap the side panels but not the ends. That is because you need to subtract the width of the stock from the total length. If you use 3/16 inch. ply then the dimensions for each side panel is 4 5/8 x 7 1/8. The edge panels are 2 3/4 X 7 1/8. The end panels remain 2 3/4 X 5. The end panels cap on the sides so that when the corners of the box become rounded, you can just pop the ends off and replace them without having to completely rebuild a new box.

The panels:

	_______				|_______________________|
	I	I				I				I
	I	I				I				I
	I	I <--- side panels	I				I
	I	I				I				I <--- end
	I	I				I				I	panels
	I	I				I				I
	_______  <--*Note overlap*-->	|_______________________|
	   ^							^
	   |-------- edge panels -----------------|
You can use the undesirable side (i.e. scrap) for the end panels because they will be covered with suede.

Your best bet for this job is to use a table saw. Cut all of the length for the edge and end panels with the same saw blade setting. This helps the fit when you assemble.

If a saw is not available then you will have to cut them by hand. The light weight paneling can be cut with a heavy duty craft knife and some elbow grease. It is important to keep each piece square. Once all the pieces are cut, sand them so that they all size with each other and are relatively square.

I use 1/2 inch. square pine stock for the frame. Scrap lumber works well if it is light weight and small (1/2 X 1/2 or so). Cut lengths the length of each side panel. Also cut pieces the width of the side panel minus the width of the pine frame stock. You need to make a frame that is the same size as the side panels. Butt joint the ends - don!t miter them. The frame pieces go right on the edge one the wrong side of the side panels.

The Frame:

f			 f
f			 f	F: 1/2 X 1/2 stock the length of one side panel.
f  			 f	f: 1/2 X 1/2 stock the width of one side panel 
f			 f		minus 1 inch.
Apply wood glue and let dry. After the glue has set, use heavy staples or small brads to reinforce the joint. Next stick on the edge panels using glue and staples. These overlap both the frame and the edges of the side panels. Square up the box before the glue sets. Finally, glue and staple the ends. Make sure that the box is square before you stick on the first end. Up until this point, square-ness has not been very important. You will make the box square once the first end is stapled.

Lightly sand all edges. I use carpet tape (two sided) and stick on suede ends cut the same size as the end panels. Electric tap over all of the edges to keep splinters from sticking.

These boxes cost very little and are very strong. I accidentally ran over one with my car once and only cracked the side panel. All of the joints held.

No longer will I tolerate rounded corners! Ha! This box has a dirty spot - THROW IT OUT! Prop boy!! Get me a NEW BOX!

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