Home-made apple boxes

Less delicious, but more structurally sound than homemade apple pie.

Two sets of apple boxes

Mundane though they may be, apple boxes are some of the most useful things on a film set. You can stand on them, see. Or you can sit on them. Or if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can put things on top of them.

In much the same way that Luke built his own lightsaber before his final battle with Darth Vader, I felt that as a film school graduate, building my own apple boxes would be a rite of passage. The only difference is I didn’t get my hand cut off and instead of trying to kill me with a plasma sword, my dad let me use his table saw.

Sort of like this.

Apple boxes are the perfect piece of film equipment to build yourself. It’s pretty simple woodworking, and yet a full set—consisting of a full (8″), a half (4″), a quarter (2″), and a pancake (1″)—can cost nearly $200 retail. I made two sets, adapting these instructions.

Because I was using nice birch plywood scraps (from my dad’s “please use this wood so I don’t have to throw it away” pile), I opted for overkill. After all, apples are one of the only pieces of film equipment that can feasibly last a hundred years and still be useful. Instead of simple butt joints I opted for rabbets and dadoes, and in order to reclaim some of the massive amount of space that apple boxes take up, I gave the full apples hinged tops—I figure they’d be good for carting around anything that isn’t fragile, like sandbags or cables.

Full apple box with open lid

Finished ’em off with some property tags and a few coats of polyurethane. Interestingly enough, it turns out you can use iron-on transfers to print on wood the same way you print on fabric.

front of full apple

These took about a week’s worth of off-and-on tinkering to finish, but these were fancy. It would be possible to bang out a set of simple apple boxes in just a few hours.

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