Making a Gobo Box

burdock box cover The LoomThe photo depicts my first ‘gobo box’ . I wood burned the door with the enchanting Burdock image found in Susun Weed’s book, Healing Wise.  Her chapter on burdock gives one a whole new way of looking at burdock!

Basically, you are making a tall, wooden , open-ended box. One side is hinged. I secure the door shut using plastic electrical ties that draw the door tightly closed. The ties are also easy to clip when you are ready to open the box for harvesting the roots in Autumn.

I used cedar for the wood. Don’t use treated wood.  You will need one ¾ inch x 12 inch wide x 10 feet long board.  Cut the board into four equal lengths or 30 inches each. You will need to cut one of the four boards again so you end up with two pieces, one that measures 26 inch in length and one that measures 4 inch in length. The 26” piece is the “hinged door” and the 4” piece serves as a stationary face board or lip underneath the hinged door. The top and bottom of the box are left open. You are basically making a wooden square tube!

Secure three hinges along the right or left side of the door – whatever direction you want it to open.  Screw in three sets of eyes. Thread the plastic electrical ties through the eyes and pull tight.  I find it helps to use a needle nose plier to pull the tie really tight in an awkward location.

You now have a secure box to fill with rich soil.  Be sure to let the soil settle with a couple of rains before seeding. If you seed it too early the plants emerge three to five inches below the box’s top edge. You don’t need to set the box into the dirt. It stands secure on its own once you fill it with soil. You can direct seed or start plants earlier in the spring and transplant them to the box.  I generally grow only one burdock plant per box.

Height 30″
Width 12″
Depth 12″

cedar boardone board measuring 3/4 inch x 12 inch wide x 10 feet long board cut into four equal length

four 1″ x 1″wood pieces each measuring 30″ long to use as corner braces
zip ties
3 hinges w/screws
2 or 3 large screw eyes
woodcarving tool (optional)                                                                                                                                                          sandpaper (medium & fine grain)
pencil & paper
measuring stick

needle nose pliers



STEP ONE: Cutting & gathering the wood materials

Gobo Box

Cut a 10 foot cedar board into four 30 inch boards. Cut one of the four 30 inch boards again into two sections, one measuring 26 inches so that the a remaining piece measures  4 inches.

Gobo Box

Stack of materials ready to assemble: four side panels and four 1″ x 1″ corner braces

STEP TWO: Decorating the door panel

Gobo Box

Original sketch drawing placed on wood panel for engraving

Gobo Box

Carve sketch on to wood panel BEFORE assembling the box. (optional)

Engrave sketch using an electric engraver tool.

Gobo Box

Engraved sketch highlighted with paint

STEP THREE: Building the sides & bracing the interior walls

Gobo Box

Secure 3 of 4 panels using screws or nails

Gobo Box

Nail or screw 1″ x 1″ corner braces.

Gobo Box

Secure all four 1″ x 1″ braces to corners, including the “open” door side.

Gobo Box

Upright view of Gobo Box showing four braces secured to three side panels.

Gobo Box

Arrange front engraved panel so the top edges align with the open end.

Nail the 4″ panel piece below the engraved panel so it aligns with the bottom edge of the box.

Note: only the 26″ panel serves as the door to the box which is later hung using hinge hardware.

 STEP FOUR: Securing the door

Gobo Box

Hinges and screws you need to secure the door.

Many times you can also find these items at resale shops.

The indispensable zip tie! I use them to "lock" the door to the side panel through the metal hook loops.

The indispensable zip tie! I use them to “lock” the door to the side panel threaded through the metal hook loops.

Gobo Box

Hint: A screw driver really helps to turn the keyhole screw into the edge of the panel.

Gobo Box

Thread a zip tie through the two key hole screws.

Gobo box

Secured door to panel.

Gobo Box

Secured door on upright box.

Hint: Helpful, but optional, to secure the door using three hook eye combinations and ties.

Gobo Box

Hinges secure door to side panel.

STEP SIX: Finished Gobo Box ready for soil and planting

Gobo Box

Completed Gobo Box ready for planting!

Add a good quality soil with compost to get your plants off to a strong start.

Fill the box to the top. Water and wait a couple of days before planting to allow for the soil to settle.


Gobo Box

Remove the electrical ties to open the door exposing fine rootlets in soil at first sight.

Hint: Place a tarp or some material to catch the soil from the box. It makes it easier to re-fill the box for another season once you’ve unearthed the roots.


Gobo Box

Carefully pull soil away from the roots to expose the beautiful fleshy roots! Beautiful unearthed burdock roots!

Gobo Box

Harvested roots displayed on back of burdock leaf.

Removing soil from the roots prior to taking them to the kitchen for processing.

Remove soil from the roots prior to taking them to the kitchen for processing.

Placing the roots in a tub, spray them with a high force hose setting quickly removes the soil.

Give the roots one final scrub in the kitchen before using in your favorite recipe.





2 Responses to Making a Gobo Box