Weekend Project

Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: One out of the box

By Justin Newcombe

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Start a new trend at school or the office with a custom-made eco-friendly wooden lunchbox, writes greenie Justin Newcombe.

Justin Newcombe shows off his smart and durable wooden lunchbox. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Justin Newcombe shows off his smart and durable wooden lunchbox. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Sick of buying one plastic lunchbox after another? I know I am. I feel like I'm paying to add to our landfill woes, not solving them. It's frustrating to have to go through this every six months, while also realising that your average lunchbox is just way too big. Most of them could fit a size 20 chicken inside but most school kids are lucky to get through your basic sandwich and snack before it's "game on" with some lunchtime tag or furious footy.

Lunchboxes take up a lot of unnecessary room in a small school bag, they fall apart and can't be repaired.

What's wrong with wood?

Nothing that I can see, so I've decided to take the bull by the horns and make a lunchbox that is just as practical as the plastic ones, without all the fallout. Wood is strong, durable, can be repaired and made to fit any bag or any lunch for that matter. Wood is also a cut above plastic when it comes to appearances, and in many genres wood is now viewed as an innovative material. With limited landfill space available, many European countries are saying "no" to excessive packaging, while some big manufacturing sectors such as the toy and furniture industries are experiencing a boom in innovative wooden design.

Yes, plastics can be recycled but that still takes a lot of energy and gobbles up even more resources, and you know it's only a matter of time before that plastic lunchbox ends up being buried.

For my wooden lunchbox I used a thin ply because it's very flexible. This means the lid can just stretch over the top of the box and engage with some small notches cut into the side which hold the lid firmly. To finish my lunchbox I polished it with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice, and you can't get much more food safe than that.

Step 1

Measure and cut out your lunchbox pieces. Cut just outside the line and use a belt sander on a jig to sand to the line.

Step 2

Position the pieces of the box face down on a flat surface so they can be folded into place, then tape them together.

Step 3

Turn the pieces over, glue the edges, fold the box together and tape into place. Tape the corners and edges to create good contact.

Step 4

Glue in the box centreboard, then tape into place.

Step 5

Repeat the glue and tape process with the lid.

Step 6

On the inside of the lid, glue thin tags at each end. Sand these back until they are only 2mm thick, then cut two corresponding grooves into the side of the box. These will act as a latch.

Step 7

Once the box is dry, sand out any uneven edges then polish with olive oil and lemon juice. Your kids might like to decorate their lunchboxes with paint, drawings or stick-on pictures. Apply a coat of varnish to protect their artwork.

- NZ Herald

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