book collections email follower instructable user
Picture of Simple and Elegant Wooden Box

Here's a relatively simple wooden box that can be made without having to have a full workshop of expensive machinery.

The only power tool I used in making this was a Table Saw which I used for cutting the splines into the corners of the box. Pretty much everything else was done using hand saws, planes, chisels and sandpaper.

Step 1: Wood Selection and Preparation

Picture of Wood Selection and Preparation

Whilst it might seem fairly simple to select the wood you’re going to use for your box, it’s worth taking a little time to think about how you want it to look when it’s finished. With just a little bit of planning and some simple layout tricks, your project can look fantastic and have some of the touches that tell others (particularly other Woodworkers) that this was made by someone who knew their craft.

For this project, I'm using some Fiddleback Jarrah and some Tiger Maple. Jarrah is a Western Australian Hardwood that is a beautiful dark, often reddish coloured wood. It's so hard, that even the local termites and white ants cant touch the stuff. It often has grain that changes direction constantly and can be a nightmare to try and smooth with a wood plane, however It also polishes up beautifully and this piece I’m using has some very clear "fiddleback" banding which should go nicely with the banding in the Maple.

I’ll not spend much time on wood preparation, but suffice it to say your material needs to be reasonably flat, with square ends and edges. For those who have a hand saw and a wood plane, I’d strongly suggest you take the time to make yourself a "Woodworkers Shooting Board". This simple tool, allows you to quickly and easily use a wood plane to square the ends and edges of your material in preparation for whatever you’re making. A Google search will find lots of commercial versions available, but for a fraction of the cost, why not make your own? I've included a picture of mine, which was little more than an afternoon's work.

One of the first steps, is to look over the wood you’re going to be using and find the best looking faces. These are the sides of the wood you want on the outside of the box and typically contain the best looking grain or wood features, and are the faces you’ll spend the most time sanding and finishing. Also select one edge to use as your reference edge, this is the edge you'll make any measurements or markings from.

Now's the time to sand each face of the board and to get things nice and smooth & flat. It's vastly easier to sand the board when it's laid flat on the bench than it will be when it's glued up into a Box shape.

I'd also suggest making up some Sanding Sealer to assist in preparing things. You can buy commercial sanding sealers, but it's really little more than diluted shellac. Buy some liquid White Shellac and dilute it with some methylated spirits (1 part shellac to 8-10 parts metho).

Sand the wood smooth with 240 grit paper and then wipe it over with the sanding sealer. Let it dry and then re-sand. The sealer hardens any stray wood fibres allowing them to be sanded off and also helps fill in some of the microscopic pores in the wood. Used later when finish sanding with 400 grit paper, you can sand the wood to a beautiful smooth surface which is ready for whatever finish you choose.

jaf33 months ago
I like your shooting board idea for cutting the miters. How do you make one; and then, how does it work?
DavidSkeptic (author)  jaf33 months ago
Thanks, have a look here, I added some info regarding the use of a shooting board.
DavidSkeptic (author)  jaf33 months ago
Thanks for the feedback. I've added some info on Shooting Boards and Mitre Boards. Hope this will help explain - if not send me any questions and I'll get back to you...
deluges3 months ago
Beautiful work, very well written. Good job sir
DavidSkeptic (author)  deluges3 months ago
Many thanks for your kind words. I've just added a bit more stuff on using a Shooting Board or Mitre Board if you're interested...