DIY Apple Box

DIY Apple Box

Apple Boxes are tools used in filmmaking to serve many purposes. But quite simply, they are just wooden boxes with handles.

Apple boxes are used all over film sets to prop up or support equipment, furniture, or people. A collection of apple boxes can be used to level dolly track, while a single apple box could be used to steady a C-stand or lighting setup. A lot of the time, however, they are used to give height to an actor, or as a quick and easily accessible stool.

Due to their constant use in film, apple boxes have a standard for their dimensions.

  • Full Apple is 20″x 12″ x 8″
  • Half Apple is 20″ x 12″ x 4″
  • Quarter Apple is 20″ x 12″ x 2″
  • Pancake is 20″ x 12″ x 1″

This modular design allows for combinations of sizes for different set applications. In short, an apple box can come in very handy on a film set, which is why I decided to build my own.

On the market, apple boxes range from £50 to £150! Film equipment is already an expensive niche but to charge that much for what is essentially a glorified crate is outrageous! And as it is such a simple design with standardised measurements, it is an easy piece of kit to make. Additionally, apple boxes don’t have to be pretty; and even if they were, they would only get battered when used on set – which is why building it out of scrap wood was an added bonus.

Scrap Wood

So, taking two sheets of scrap ply from the shed, I began measuring and cutting the pieces. I used the unpainted piece for the top and bottom of the box as it would give a nice finish when sanded, and the blue piece for all the sides. Further, the bare piece of ply was the perfect size to get two cuts of 20″ x 12″ with only one strip of waste.

The box needs to have a handle on one of its sides – this is usually done by having two channels cut into the front piece. I cut four holes using a brace and bit and then connected them with a jigsaw.

Scrap Wood - Handles

The whole box is fitted together using screws and glue. I used 8×1″ screws, spaced at 3″ intervals. This in itself gave the box a really nice look. But because these boxes are used and abused on set, their finish, joining methods, and look aren’t important – only their function. They must be strong enough to hold substantial weights and pressures without bowing. In my case, the use of ply made it incredibly strong due to its layers, and the amount of screws used added to its structural integrity.

Some apple boxes you will see online will choose to hide their joining methods by using biscuits or brads, while others may choose to exhibit their aesthetics by using comb joints and routing the edges or corners. This is probably why apple boxes become so expensive online.

This piece of filming equipment is a great example of building over buying. Apple boxes are incredibly simple to make, and if you already have scrap wood lying around and a method of joining them together, an apple box is incredibly cheap to make.

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