How to make: a Salvadoran-style wooden box

How to make a Salvadoran-style wooden box

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

If you’re Salvadoran or if you’ve ever been to El Salvador, you know that little wooden boxes are a common handicraft made and painted in the traditional style – I own several little “treasure box” style ones and at first I wanted to try to make one of those complete with a lid for this month’s woodworking challenge. Once I started planning it out though, I decided that for my first attempt I should try a more simple design, so with Carlos’s help I made a medium-sized wooden box without a lid. The supplies and method I used are below if you’d like to give it a try!

How to make: a Salvadoran-style wooden box

What you need:

utility square
pencil with eraser
heavy duty bar clamp
2 pieces of craft board 3/8 x 4 x 24″ (to be cut for the 4 sides: Left, Right, Front, Back)
1 craft board 1/2 x 6 x 24″ (to be cut for the bottom)
Elmer’s Carpenters wood glue (interior)
painters tape
paper towels
paint in various colors (I used Valspar samples I already had on hand)
small craft paint brushes
permanent marker (black)


1. Measure and mark your wood for cutting using the utility square and pencil. Very important! Remember to include the width of the front and back pieces plus the bottom for the measurement you need for your two sides. These are the measurements I ended up with:

Bottom: 6″
Front: 6″
Back: 6″
Left side: 6 1/4″
Right side: 6 1/4″

Tip: Craft wood is sold with a UPC sticker on it. When you remove the sticker it might leave behind a sticky residue. This can be removed with a little dab of peanut butter on a paper towel. (Yes, peanut butter!)

2. Wearing eye protection, carefully use the jigsaw to cut our your pieces. You should have 5: bottom, front, back, left side, right side.



3. Make sure all pieces are the correct size by doing a dry assembly of the box to see that the corners line up properly with none of the pieces being too long or short.

4. Lightly sand any rough edges if necessary.

5. On top of a layer of newspaper, glue the front and back to the bottom. Use Q-tips to remove any excess glue before it dries. It’s really helpful to have a second person helping you at this stage. One person should glue and hold the pieces in place while the other lightly secures the clamp. Do not secure the clamp too tightly or they may lean in. To ensure the sides are at a 90 degree angle, you can use a triangle square. Leave the clamp on for at least an hour to ensure the glue has dried. Now repeat step 5 to attach the other two sides. Note: Really try to avoid using too much glue which will cause your box to stick to the newspaper. If this happen, the newspaper can be sanded off with sandpaper.


6. Once the glue has dried you should have a completed wooden box ready to be painted. Gently tap the sides to make sure you’ve done a good job and the box will hold together.

7. Practice a design with pencil and paper. Once you know what you want to paint, draw your design directly onto the box with pencil.


8. On a layer of newspaper, paint your design. Tip: Painters tape is helpful for making clean lines.



9. Once the paint is dry your box is ready to display or use!



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El Salvador – The much awaited souvenirs

[Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. Apologies that there is no English translation this week. If you have a question about something, ask me in comments and I’ll try to answer you. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments!]


Fuimos a El Salvador en agosto, y claro que trajimos recuerdos!

Si no has visto los blog posts sobre recuerdos de otros años, chéquealos. Hay un montón de cosas chistosas que ya compartí anteriormente:

From El Salvador with Love
From El Salvador with Love (Part 2)
Souvenirs from El Salvador 2011

Okay! Los recuerdos de este viaje!

Un capirucho y un trompo

Un libro sobre tradiciones de El Salvador

Tic Tack (alcohol)

Un librito para enseñar a los niños cómo escribir en el estilo salvadoreño. (Pero creo que ya es muy tarde para ellos. Sus escrituras no son tan bonitas – es típica cómo la mayoría de varones en los Estados Unidos.)


juego de futbolito

Huaraches que no me quedan. Una mujer me obligó a comprarlos en el mercado. Me siento mal que los compré y que están en mi closet sin usarlos, cuando hay gente en El Salvador sin zapatos.


Pulsera de los santos. Compré dos de unas mujeres fuera de las ruinas de San Andres. Días después, tuve ganas de comprar más pero no las encontré. En una tienda en Metro Centro, pensé que encontré las mismas pulseras, pero al chequearlas más cerca, descubrí que no eran fotitos de los santos pegados a las cuentas – eran fotitos de Justin Bieber.

Me compré esto para colgar las llaves, pero al día siguiente, me encontré una que me gustó más.

Esta la tenemos en la pared cerca de la puerta principal de nuestra casa. Afortunadamente mi madre y vecinos que nos visitan no hablan español.

Este es un huevo de barro y tiene algo muy especial adentro.

Día de Los Muertos at The National Museum of the American Indian

Some people wouldn’t think that you can find Latin American art and culture at a museum for American Indians, but you can because Latin American culture is a mix of indigenous and Spanish culture. So, until Washington D.C. builds the much needed National Museum of The American Latino, this is a good place to look for a little Latinidad.

While the American Indian museum will have special events specifically for Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), they have many things on display year round.

“Day of the Dead rituals date back thousands of years. Early Mesoamerican peoples saw death as a continuation of life. They believed deceased members of their family could return to them during a month long celebration in late summer.

Spanish colonizers tried and failed to put an end to the ritual. Instead, to integrate it into Christian tradition, they moved its observance to the first two days of November: All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.”

-Printed on a plaque at The National Museum of the American Indian

These women were sewing and I didn’t want to disturb them by snapping photos too closely or interrupt them by asking questions, so I’m not sure of their ethnicity, but their colorful embroidery reminded me very much of Latin America.

Also on display…