Mark ( on November 19th, 2007

Lately, I have not had as much time in the shop as I would like. Lots of outdoor chores and other duties have been taking precedence. I did get a bit of time though, and decided to make a couple of small boxes out of some offcuts, using a nice piece of curly maple for the tops that I have had hanging around the shop for a while.




The boxes were made from Cherry offcuts with Walnut for the splines and handles and the aforementioned Curly Maple for the tops. The bottoms were cut from some Poplar that I had left over from some drawers on a prior case piece.

The boxes measure approximately 3.5″ high by 9″ wide by 3.5″ deep. The sides for each box were cut from a single piece of stock so that the grain on the sides runs continuously around each box. The mitered corners were all cut with a shop built miter sled on the table saw. The tops and bottoms fit into grooves cut into the sides on the table saw. The top pieces have a simple rebate and the bottoms were beveled with a block plane to fit into these grooves.

After the tops, bottoms and all of the sides were cut, all of the parts were sanded so that the inside faces would be ready for finish after assembly. This would be difficult to do afterward. The sides were laid out against my table saw rip fence and taped tightly together along each miter seam with masking tape. Then, glue was applied to the miters. The tops and the bottoms were inserted (no glue, just floating) and the sides were folded around them to form the box. After checking for square, the last miter seam was taped and the box glue-ups were left to dry.

Box_Side.JPGOnce the glue was dry, the groves were cut for the Walnut splines to reinforce the mitered corners. Because the mitered corners are mainly end grain, this glue bond is not very strong. So, adding splines really helps to reinforce these joints by adding some long-grain glue surface. The groves for the splines were cut using a shop made sled for the table saw. The Walnut that I used for the splines was planed with a block plane to fit into the grooves. Once a good fit was achieved, it was cut into triangular pieces which were glued into the grooves. After the glue had dried the splines were trimmed flush with a sharp chisel.

The box tops were cut off with the band saw between the top two splines and the cut areas were cleaned up with a block plane. I next measured for the hinges in the tops and bottoms and cut the hinge mortises with a sharp chisel. For the the box handles, I decided to use a couple of little pieces of Walnut and to do some simple carving leaving them with rough tooled surface. These handles were simply glued on to the outsides of the boxes with no other fasteners or joinery. To complete the construction, the boxes were sanded through 220 grit.

For a finish, I wet sanded in a couple of coats of Watco Danish Oil (natural) with 600 grit wet/dry paper. The oil was wiped on, sanded in, wiped off and left to dry. After the second coat of oil had dried I used some Zinsser Seal Coat Shellac on the inside of the boxes to seal in the oil and eliminate any oil smells in the future. The exterior of the boxes received three coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal thinned 50/50 with naptha, wiped on and scuffed sanded with 400 grit paper between coats.

Box_Open.JPGBox_Back.JPGThese boxes were fun to do and got me a little time in the shop. Sometimes these small projects are nice to do as a break from large furniture efforts. They go together fairly quickly and allow you to use up nice scraps of wood that you have been saving for a rainy day. These boxes are themselves twins and they will be going to my twin daughters to keep some of their treasures in.

I’d enjoy hearing what you think about the boxes and the web site – good and bad. Please let me know your thoughts – you can contact me at or leave comments here using the comments link at the end of the post.

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