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Mordecai Box Building

Earlier this summer, my friend Tim from Acme Bicycles reached out with a neat project idea. Tim created an ongoing challenge to riders to summit the eight highest peaks in South Dakota and wanted to have a logbook for finishers to sign in the shop. Finishers get a branded leather patch (literally branded with a branding iron).

After we settled on a design for the logbook, he asked if it'd be possible to build a box for all of the 8/7 collateral could sit in. It was an interesting challenge, and I secretly love building boxes, so I said I'd give it a go.

Boxes are a slightly different animal. I've built a handful of them in the past, and it's always a rewarding challenge. There is a three-dimensional element that I enjoy. The style I used for this is a typical clamshell box that opens and closes like a book.

The Book

The Rider Log was pretty straightforward, except this was the first time I have ever wielded a branding iron. I heated it up on a portable stovetop and practiced quite a bit before branding the book itself. There isn't much room for error.

Once the brand was applied, my next challenge was stamping the text to match. Again, I practiced a number of methods before stamping on the book. I tried a couple brown foils, black foils and some blind stamping. The final recipe was a mix of all of them. I blind stamped the first layer for depth, then applied a brown foil and finished it with a layer of black foil that I had wrinkled, crinkled and cracked so that the brown would come through. The finish looks almost identical to the branding above it.

The Box

The box had to house the Rider Log, the stamping die (different from the branding iron) and a handful of the finishers' patches. I wanted the overall outside appearance to look like a book, so I kept the profile pretty slim.

I used thin leather bands to suspend the die because I didn't want it to sag down and rub against the cover of the Rider Log. The patches are held by elastic bands so that they will stay in place regardless of how many patches are in the box.

Covering the entire inside of the box is a map of South Dakota taken from an atlas from 1911. It was essentially tissue paper, so I mounted it on a sturdier paper before cutting it to fit perfectly inside the box. That was a "measure twentyce, cut once" action since I only had the one map. And it had to accommodate the two hinges, as well, so it was a tricky cut. Overall, I'm very happy with the way it came out.

The box is on its way to Tim as I type this. It is deeply satisfying to me that there are bicycle retailers like Tim who are creating interesting, innovative experiences for their customers. I'm reminded of the great stories happening around other retailers like Yawp! Cyclery in Denver, Oak City Cycling Project in Raleigh, NC, and 718 Cyclery in NYC. All these shops (and many more) are reinventing bicycle retail. Whenever creativity, community and commerce collide, I am a big fan. Stay tuned for more projects like this!

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