How to Make a Simple Wooden Box
Here's a practical project to hone your woodworking skills.
1 to 3 hours
Less than $20
IntroductionMaking a simple box is a staple in your woodworking skill set. You end up with something handsome and useful while honing several woodworking skills along the way. Here's a simple box that will let you perfect rabbets, miters, and precise and repeatable cuts on your table saw.
- Cross-cut sled
- Table saw
- 1/2-in. x 6-in. x 4-ft. board
- Wood glue
Project step-by-step (8)
Rip the Board to Size
Take a standard 1/2-in. by 6-in. by 4-ft. board found at your local home center and rip it down to 5-in. wide. This box will be 5-in. tall on the sides and 5-in wide. With this design, I only need to make one rip cut for the sides and the top and bottom of the box.
Set Up a Sled
The easiest way to cut the sides and the top accurately is with a table saw sled. I have a little trick to make this especially easy and fast. I set up my sled with a stop block to cut the 8-in. long sides. You can certainly adjust the length of your box by adjusting this stop block.
Cut the Long Sides
With the table saw set up to cut a 45-degree bevel, trim off the very end of the board. Then flip the board edge over edge and place the tip of the previous cut end against the stop block. Hold the board to the fence and against the block to make the cut. Repeat this step to make two sides.
Pro tip: If you’re going for a continuous grain around the outside of the box, before making any cuts, make a mark down the length of the board and be sure all the sides are cut.
Cut the Short Sides
For the short sides, I use the same method but add a spacer between the stop block and my board. This lets me keep cutting without changing my sled setup drastically. My spacer block is cut to 3-in. wide, which gives me a 5-in. long side.
Pro tip: Using a spacer block lets you to switch easily between cuts. This is especially helpful when you want to create a continuous grain around your box. To do this, make sure you’re cutting the sides so the same side of the board is always facing out, and you alternate cutting the ends and sides of your box. You’ll also need to cut off the leftover miter on your board before cutting the next side.
Assemble the Sides
Arrange the cut parts in the order they’ll be assembled and tape them together end to end. Flip the taped parts over and apply glue inside the miters. Then carefully fold the miters and hold the box together with a final piece of tape.
Make the First Rabbet Cut
While the glue on the sides dries, cut the identical top and bottom parts to length with the sled and stop block setup. Then make the first of two cuts for the rabbet that will nest inside the sides.
Lower the table saw blade to 1/4-in. above the table, then set the fence so it is 1/4-in. from the outside edge of the blade. (Don’t rely on the measurement on the table saw; use a tape measure for accuracy.) Make four total cuts on both the top and bottom, rotating the part to cut along each edge.
Finish the Rabbet
Make the final cut to finish the rabbet by raising the blade to 1/2-in. above the table and setting the fence to 1/4-in., the same depth of the first rabbet cuts. Then make four cuts on edge for each part, one cut along each edge.
Pro tip: For safety with this cut, use close to a zero-clearance throat plate on the table saw.
Glue the Bottom
Now glue and fit the bottom to the sides assembly. Then it’s up to you to sand and finish to your liking. Leave the top to lift off as is or add a handle. You can paint or stain to make it unique.