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Today I will be showing you how I made this portable watercolor carrying case, complete with a fold out foot and geometrically decorated top made of various types of veneers!

One of my friends, Chloe (@coldnsalty on instagram) is a talented artist who loves working with watercolor paints. Knowing she often gets inspiration from Mateusz Urbanowicz, another incredible watercolor artist who paints beautiful scenes of life in Japan, I set out to build her a watercolor box inspired by one Mateusz built:

On this page, you can also find a link to a Youtube video showing how he built it.

Like his version, my box is able to hold individual trays of watercolor paints, includes a latch, and a little foot that folds out, elevating the box around 15 degrees to a more comfortable angle to paint with.

However, I decided to take the next step and make a few changes, namely:

  1. Improve the fold out foot with a more low profile design that does not protrude
  2. Add removable metal trays to make exchanging colors easier
  3. Designate one row for brush storage
    and of course, we can't forget:

  4. Veneer the entire box, and adorn the top with a mathematical, tessellated veneer pattern, which in my opinion adds a real touch of luxury to the box!

~ You can also watch the video version (11 mins) of this article below, but for full details, measurements, tips, and tricks, read on!

Step 1: The Design

I began by measuring the individual trays with vernier calipers to find out how large to make the rows. I added a few millimeters (NOTE) all around to make sure they'd fit well. Unless you are using the exact same watercolors, each box will have to be made with custom dimensions, so the exact measurements are numbers you will have to create yourself.

I made the walls of the frame 8mm thick and the crossbars 6mm thick.

I decided to fit 12 paints as 3 rows of 4 paints, and add a slightly narrower row at the bottom for brush storage. In retrospect, I could have made that row the exact same as the others, so it could hold an additional four paints, which is what I would do next time.

Finally, I sketched up a design in Fusion 360 and laid out a few sheets with dimensions and printed them out for easy use. I've included the two drawings I created to easily see the measurements. Again, your box will need to be custom sized to fit your own watercolors.

NOTE: Although I do live in the US, when working with parts this small I could not force myself to suffer through 1/32ths and 1/64ths and instead chose to use millimeters as the main unit.

MartinMeuleman made it!5 months ago
I made something like this about 4 years ago. Very surprising to see it 'again'.
JavierL90 (author)  MartinMeuleman4 months ago
How did you get the edges and geometric pattern so crisp and clean?
Thanks for your compliment.
First I have made long thin strips at exact the same
width and thickness. Then I stacked them per 4 and wrapped them with masking tape. Be sure to put
tape on the places where you will be sawing them. Then on a table saw I
used an home made sawing sled with a fence and a stop to saw them at 60˚ and always at the
same length.

I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures of the process itself. I have a picture of the wooden 'diamonds' right after the sawing process and at the moment I made a layout with masking tape.

Thanks for the compliment. First I have made long thin strips at exact the same
width, stacked them per 4 and wrapped them with markingtape. Be sure to put
tape on the places where you will be sawing them. Then on a sawing machine I
used an home made sawing sled with a fence to saw them at 45˚ and always at the
same length.

I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures of the process itself. I only have one of the resulting pile of wood 'diamonds' and sticked them together with tape. You see that in the pile they are not as clean as in the resulting box. There is some work to be done...
JavierL90 (author)  MartinMeuleman4 months ago
WOW yours looks even better... incredible craftsmanship!
igorkholkin5 months ago
How long did this take? Looks beautiful :)
ChrisG77775 months ago
I assume you remove the tape before gluing the completed tessellation square to the box. But I can't see you mentioning that anywhere. Is that the case? If so, how does it all stay together while you handle it onto the box. Is it just a case of being very careful?
JavierL90 (author)  ChrisG77775 months ago
Oops! I think I didn't do a great job of explaining that part. So, after the pieces were all taped together on one side, I glued the side that didn't have all the tape to the lid. Once it was dry, I peeled off the pieces of tape, which were no longer needed since they were only there to hold it in together while it glued. Does that make sense? I might want to make an edit/clarification in there.
Oh, OK. i didn't realise you flipped it over like that. I'm glad I asked!
ChrisD5475 months ago
Very nice. That veneering technique you used is called marquetry. It's a very old decorative method which my grandfather used to do with great skill. Tempted to give it a go myself now and keep the family tradition alive!
JavierL90 (author)  ChrisD5475 months ago
Ohh that's what it's called! Thank you for your comment - you should definitely give it a shot!
Bverysharp5 months ago
Nice work!
Honus5 months ago
Gorgeous work and really nice writeup!
I just love this box! The top is beautiful and the handy little stand on the bottom is great :D
JavierL90 (author)  Penolopy Bulnick5 months ago
Thanks! It's the little details like that which elevate your pieces to the next level (literally lol) -- and they add the final touch of class.