How To Make Segmented Lidded Boxes Using Milk Container Tops.

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Blog entry by Grumpy posted 12-19-2011 10:35 AM 13635 reads 13 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recently posted a project called “Milk Bottle Tops & Scrap Wood”,

There was some interest in the concept & some of you requested a blog on how they were done.
So I thought I should get on with it before I forgot the whole process. LOL
The whole idea started from a need to cut down on all the scrap pieces of wood and composite material lying around in the shed.
We all have those bits that we won’t throw out. They will come in handy one day, so we say.
I have made other segmented pieces before, T-light candle holders & ear ring holders but this idea came from a visit to the Oyster bay wood turner’s open day in Sydney.
The old plastic screw top lid is very common, I guess world wide, everywhere i’ve been anyway.

OK, no mucking about, lets get on with it!

The size of your plastic screw tops will govern some of the sizing.

-The plastic screw top components were

Lid 41mm dia (outside) X 12,4mm.

Screw bottom 38mm

-Wooden Sections

-Top – 50mm dia X 22mm with a 41mm X 13mm recessed section for the plastic lid

-Bottom – 85mm X 50mm with a 41mm X 38mm recessed section for the plastic screw bottom. The depth is variable depending on the scraps you use.

Luckily I had 38mm & 41mm forstner bits that suited perfectly to fit the plastic components.



If you have a lot of 75mmX50mm (3”X2”) scrap lying around like me this is ideal. I also had a lot of floating floor scraps, masonite offcuts & plywood bits. You can use the 3X2 or slice it into 3X1’s.

To avoid chip out when I turned the pieces down I cut each piece out on the bandsaw

Unlike the photo, these pieces varied in thickness & material

Next came the hole in the middle. You can either use a 38mm forstner bit as I did or gouge them out on the lathe. I thought the lathe option was too tricky because the material varied & there would be stability issues.


I sanded some of the pieces before gluing. This was a bit risky to the finger prints on the linisher so I made a jig to hold the bits more safely.
The better option would be to sand the larger pieces before they are cut into rounds. Anyway, we live & learn.
I made another jig for the gluing. A jig was needed because the holes needed to be aligned accurately.

The jig is a simple one.

Two short lengths of 75mm X 50mm (3”X2”) with a 38mm hole in each.

A length of pipe of suitable diameter. Luckily an old umbrella support did the trick. Another one of those things you don’t throw out.

And thirdly, two long clamps

As there are no bottoms on these sections yet, so you can glue several sides together in suitable lengths and separate them between paper so you can get the sections apart later.

You then need to sand the inside. You could do this on the lathe after you round off the outside evenly or you could do it on a small drum sanding attachment for the drill press. The main thing is not to sand the top area where you will fit the plastic screw.


You now need to attach the bottom, I glued it with 5 minute epoxy. I needed the finished length of the barrel section to be 85mm so the size of the bottom piece depended on how long the barrel was. The bottom piece also needed to be a least an inch or so longer to fit in the chuck & could be cut to length later.


Simple to make. Just cut a piece greater than 50mm dia and a minimum of 30mm deep. Cut a hole with a forstner (41mm in my case & 13mm deep) or turn it out on the lathe.


I used 5 minute epoxy to glue the plastic bits. While the lid was no problem the holding power on the screw bit caused a few problems. I found hot melt glus held best after a few hiccups. If anyone has any tips on this problem it would be appreciated.
square up the faces at the glue up and tape everything together.


Now you can screw the two pieces together. Make sure you remover any excess glue and do a final square up on the lid face to the barrel.
You will need to find your centres fairly accurately prior to turning as you don’t want the hole in the barrel to be out of line with the outside. That’s why I rough turned the barrel first before I inserted the plastic screw. I used this simple plug to do the job.




1- turn off the waste from the bottom. Fill any defects with epoxy, dress up & sand in the usual way.
2-Turn off the waste from the lid & decorate or leave plain.
I used this small jig for that job


The job should be sanded before the ends are parted off. The lid can be sanded on the lid jig

Clean up any excess glue
5 or 6 coats of wipe on poly lightly sanded with cabinet makers steel wool between coats & buffed before the last coat.
That’s about it
Sorry it was a bit lengthy but you do need to explain the essentials.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

10 comments so far

View BigTiny's profile


1721 posts in 4225 days

#1 posted 12-19-2011 01:28 PM

Very informative item on a great, creative use of those little bits we can’t bear to throw out. Thank you for sharing.


-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27255 posts in 4443 days

#2 posted 12-19-2011 03:42 PM

Thanks for the tutorial, Tony. That is straight forward. It will use up a lot of the scraps and you can recycle part of those milk bottles!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Karson's profile


35295 posts in 5738 days

#3 posted 12-19-2011 03:51 PM

Tony: A great blog. Nice job and great posting.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Gary's profile


9426 posts in 4770 days

#4 posted 12-19-2011 04:23 PM

Wow…how cool is that? Great post

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 4324 days

#5 posted 12-20-2011 12:13 AM

Thanks for the great idea.
No need to learn to chase threads.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4141 days

#6 posted 02-08-2012 12:52 AM

very informative blog. thnx for sharin

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4914 days

#7 posted 02-08-2012 12:54 AM

Super blog thanks for all the info and photos.


View Grumpy's profile


26812 posts in 5188 days

#8 posted 02-08-2012 02:47 AM

Thanks for looking Roger & Jim.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View CFrye's profile


11409 posts in 3177 days

#9 posted 08-07-2013 06:43 PM

Beautiful, unique AND recycling! Thanks for sharing!

-- God bless, Candy

View Grumpy's profile


26812 posts in 5188 days

#10 posted 08-08-2013 12:20 AM

Thanks Candy

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

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