After two years of carrying the brown paper bag lunchbox during my commute I decided to consider new designs. While riding the train from NJ to NYC I find myself doing one of two things: sleeping or sketching. The carved bag lunchbox served dutifully as a place to rest my elbow on the train but got in the way while sketching. A few months ago I decided to reinvent my lunchbox by creating a lap desk to store my lunch and drawing supplies. In order to solidify the ideas in my head I first folded and taped cardboard into lap desk forms. These cardboard boxes allowed me to quickly identify scale, shape and general usefulness.
Satisfied with a lap desk form I assembled a solid prototype from thin plywood; “solid” because this lap desk was completely empty, all sides screwed together with no door. I carried this empty box on my commute a few times to evaluate carry-ability, sketch worthiness and elbow rest seat divider success. I decided on a few tweaks to the shape and set out to finalize a functional design, one that could be opened and used.
The plan, a sophisticated lap desk with ornamentally carved wood sides and solid maple wood construction. A few frustrating days were spent trying to coax maple wood to conform to my plan. Every attempt to thickness plane the maple lumber resulted with the wood wanting to cup and crook. Call me impatient, but sometimes you get a piece of wood that refuses to cooperate. Since I knew I would be re-designing the lap desk after a few months I decided to change the design and use pine and birch plywood, on hand materials. The construction of Lunch Box 2.0 allows full serviceably, meaning the entire thing can be disassembled, adjusted and reassembled.
Over the past weekend the finished box spent time outside to allow the stain and finish to cure. Now that it doesn’t smell like oily rags anymore Lunch Box 2.0 was ready for its maiden voyage. Lunch Box 2.0 is performing well. Already I’ve discovered a few things to improve the next time around; and there will be a next time around. This process of discovery and change is a ton of fun. I’m never bored, always thinking of what I am going to do next. Now, if I could only find the time.