Making Wooden Shoe Shine Boxes

Here are the mitred corners on our Ultimate Shoe Shine box in Douglas Fir coming together.   It looks easy but almost a full day went into setting up the table saw to get it perfectly aligned so these 45 degree angle cuts would come together like this.   


Building boxes in the garage. #woodcraft #carpentry

A video posted by Shinekits (@shinekits) on




Grandpa's Shoes

Today's guest blog is by Steven Briggs from Hanover, Illinois

GEORGE DEWEY TYE.  He was my Grandpa.  I’m told my first steps were taken toward him --- running.  I don’t remember that, but I do remember him holding my hand as we walked along the streets of Inglewood, California in the early 1950s.  Of course, I was closer to the ground than he was, and his eyesight “wasn’t so good” as mine.  I could see shiny particles in the sidewalk, and I used to ask him “Why are there diamonds in the sidewalk.”  He said it was to “remind us that our shoes should always shine.”  He also advised that it was important for me to “take good care of” my things, because I was lucky to have them.  Then he told me that he didn’t get his first pair of shoes until he was 12 years old.  He said he loved those shoes. I remember asking him probably too many times after that, “Grandpa, tell me again about the shoes.“

One Saturday morning when I was about ten, Grandpa said he wanted to show me something, and he told me to get my “good school shoes” (black leather brogans) and meet him on the back porch. We sat on the steps in the sun, and he handed me a brand new “Griffin Shinemaster” shoe shine kit.  You know, one of those ubiquitous four-footed boxes with the angled foot platform on top.  It had two cans of polish (black and brown), two brush applicators, and two buffing brushes.  It was right then and there I was about to move up in the world.  And man, did I ever.  Grandpa taught me how to shine shoes.  

From then on, every Saturday morning, Grandpa and I would shine our shoes together.  He taught me to clean ‘em off first.  “Get the mud off real good,”  he’d say.  I wondered how many times as a 12-year-old boy in the hills of Tennessee he had done that himself.  Grandpa showed me how to pry the polish cans open with my thumbs.  He said I should take off the shoelaces so I wouldn’t get polish on them (this may have been a veiled attempt to teach me how to lace them up again).  And then came the most fun part of all --- he showed me how to spit in the can!  To this day, I still do that, just like Grandpa did.

Well, that was 58 years ago.  That Griffin Shinemaster is broken apart, but it’s still here.  I’m sorry to tell you that Grandpa isn’t.  And I got out of the habit of shining my shoes.  I’ve always missed Grandpa, but I didn’t realize until recently that I missed shining shoes too.  So I bought a new “shoe shine kit” about a week ago.  A nice one.  A really nice one.  Since then, I’ve probably shined a pair of shoes every other day.  It’s a ritual now.  It takes me back.  It “centers” me.  It makes me feel like a gentleman.  

The smell of the polish, the sound of the applicator and buffing brushes on the leather, and the relatively instant gratification of seeing shoes that look proud to be shoes.  All that stuff makes me feel alive.  It makes me appreciate how fortunate I am to have shoes.  And it reminds me of that gentle, caring man --- my Grandpa --- who took the time to show a little boy how to shine his shoes.  As it turned out, that simple lesson taught me so much more.

Steven Briggs

P.S.  In about three years I’m going to show my grandson how to shine shoes too.

Built to Last

I was trying to think of things that I use regularly that have stood the test of time. Perhaps not surprisingly, the list is pretty short.

I’ve had the same clothes dresser for almost 18 years – not very exciting, I know, but maybe that’s why I’ve never replaced it. It does its job just fine, looks ok to me and has never broken – so why get a new one? I figure I’ll have that thing forever. Sadly there aren’t too many other things I own that I can say the same thing about.

Most of my appliances aren’t too old. It seems like that type of thing just isn’t made to last anymore.  I’ve gone through about 3 coffee makers in the last couple of years and 2 or 3 toasters. Just replaced the dishwasher last summer, and I can’t wait to get a new stove and fridge. I do have one good kitchen knife, a Global Chef’s knife, which has served me well for many years.

I have trinkets and keepsakes that I’ve had since I was a kid, but to me those don’t count, as they aren’t used on a regular basis. I’m not the type to keep a car running forever, and it’s the kind of thing you tend to trade in for a newer model.

In the living room, the TV is about 5 years old, which may be a good run for a TV these days, but I remember having the same TV for about 20 years growing up.  My PS3 has held up pretty good since 2008 – maybe I’ll still be able to play Killzone on it in 10 years, but it’s doubtful.

I suppose one important factor in the longevity of things is how complicated they are and how easily they can be fixed. As more things become computerized and sealed up so you can’t get at the insides, the tougher it is to make them last.

I dropped my iPhone a few weeks ago and smashed the glass on the back. That was almost enough of an excuse for me to go ahead and get a brand spanking new phone. I was almost glad, in fact, that I’d broken it because I really did want a new Nexus 5.  My iPhone 4 is now a few years old, won't run the latest apps, and won’t sync with my FitBit.

But it has survived numerous drops and bashes, including being dropped in the toilet (a couple days in a bag if rice revived it). So, I figured why not try and fix it since I mainly just use it for phone calls and text messages. If I’m honest with myself I don’t really need a new phone.

So I went on Amazon and found a replacement back for about 7 dollars. It came in the mail just yesterday and it took about 2 minutes to get the old back off and pop the new one into place. Now my phone looks good as new and I figure I can get a couple more years out of it.  Not bad for something used every single day. And I must say it felt good to fix something myself and only spend a few bucks on it. A new phone would have set me back a few hundred. That’s more money in my pocket for the important things in life, like beer and cigars. 

Anyway, all of this musing is a long way to say that there are really very few products that seem to be made to last, are easy to fix, and can survive regular daily or weekly use. It seems to be a disappearing value in a throw away society.

So at shinekits, we want to buck that trend and that’s why our shoe shine kits are built to last. We want you to be able to use it on a regular basis and then pass it onto your kids who will also get a lifetime of use from it. It’s a solid, sturdy piece of construction.

What things do you own that have stood the test of time and will be passed on to the next generation? Let us know in the comments.


Quality goods that last a lifetime.