Simple but fun wooden boxes

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Project by maplerock posted 05-20-2014 01:21 PM 4588 views 44 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch

OK… the title should be, “Wooden Boxes for Dummies.” I recently got the urge to make some simpler boxes. Boxes that have no hardware. No God forsaken hinges, no trays, no feet, you get the point. The only problem was, I’ve never seen how they’re made.

Now I’ve had some good mentorship, and I think I have a pretty good grasp on some things. So, I just googled wooden boxes, and old wooden boxes. I found a neat box (and there is one here on LJ very similar) that was Japanese inspired. Often used for tools, these boxes use an ingenious but ridiculously simple closing system used in Japanese boxes for centuries.

The top just slides into place, the brackets on the top ends holding it there.

So… I decided to make one, then two, then three…it was easy! I was delirious with joy as I did not have to fit hinges carefully only to be sickened by an uneven gap or a bad fit. The new system was not without a little trepidation however… I have tried to make boxes with inset lids like so many of the talented guys like Greg Little make here on LJ… but never seeing it done, I just wing it. So, I just made my box frame, taped it together, square it up, and set it on the board I was going to use as a top. Since I had not put in the bottom yet, I could just use a pencil and trace the outline.

Then I cut a piece (sneaking up on it) to fit. Now at this point the lid would fall into the box. You need a little gap all the way around, or it won’t slide later. Add the top brackets (glue and pegs for me) after a little figuring, and one end of the top should slide right under the end bracket on the box. Slide it back a little and there you go!

I made two smaller ones (about 12” x 4” x 5”) and a larger one (15” x 6” x 7”). I finished them with tung oil only, as it looks simpler and more utilitarian. I made a complete box in a day, with lots of time in-between gluing. It is nice to start with a board in the morning and have a nice sliding lid box by supper.

Now I don’t think these little boxes would win any beauty contests, but they will hold chisels, paint brushes, router bits, pencils, or just about anything. I think scrap wood would work nicely. Fun, pretty easy, and CHEAP. That’s what I like!

I hope you like these… although I didn’t invent them, I stumbled through making a few, and now I am hooked!

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

27 comments so far

View Roger Gaborski's profile

Roger Gaborski

327 posts in 4523 days

#1 posted 05-20-2014 01:36 PM

Nice clean design.

-- Roger Gaborski,

View GerardoArg1's profile


1014 posts in 2769 days

#2 posted 05-20-2014 01:36 PM

Congratulations!! Love that boxes too! Is awesome simple and practice. I m hooked too. Big hug from Argentine

-- Disfruta tu trabajo (enjoy your work) (Bandera, Argentina)

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4083 days

#3 posted 05-20-2014 01:55 PM

You have made some very nice designed boxes Jerry. You are so right about the beauty found in simplicity. It is so easy to over-complicate and over build a project. I like the raised dowel plugs you have used…a very interesting effect.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3642 days

#4 posted 05-20-2014 01:58 PM

These are nice clean boxes and look like they would be fun to make.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30551 posts in 3113 days

#5 posted 05-20-2014 02:12 PM

Nice job. I need to try a couple as well.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2404 days

#6 posted 05-20-2014 03:27 PM

Love ‘em !!! I’ve got a bunch of wooden pegs, my trusty CAD drawing software, and a laser on my radial arm saw. I’m going to give it a try. Not “think I will”, I will.

I suppose you could complicate it with hand-cut, double-blind dovetails at the corners. :)

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2404 days

#7 posted 05-20-2014 03:32 PM

Just noticed that it looks like a good start on a xylophone box. Hmmm.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View DocSavage45's profile


8982 posts in 3617 days

#8 posted 05-20-2014 04:37 PM

Ano Ney,

Tihen stekki desu!

Translation: Hey, Very nice!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DavidFisher's profile


83 posts in 4472 days

#9 posted 05-20-2014 05:18 PM

Very nice. Is there some sort of locking mechanism that prevents the lid from sliding off and spilling the contents?

View DeLayne Peck's profile

DeLayne Peck

669 posts in 2977 days

#10 posted 05-20-2014 05:32 PM

Love it. Makes me wonder if we take some of the joy out of woodworking being elaborate.

-- DJ Peck, Lincoln Nebraska. Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

426 posts in 3842 days

#11 posted 05-20-2014 05:50 PM

Simple. Quick. Cheap. Functional, too.

What’s not to love?

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4369 days

#12 posted 05-20-2014 06:16 PM

Kewl, I love it, that lid is so simple and perfect, thanks for sharing

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View Boxguy's profile


2877 posts in 3042 days

#13 posted 05-20-2014 08:30 PM

Jerry, great job. I like the Japanese flavor and simplicity. You will do anything to avoid hinges! Can’t wait to see them for real at the show this weekend. Guess we’ll both know a lot more about selling in the tent by Monday. You might consider editing in the dimensions. I can’t tell if they are big or small. See you later.

-- Big Al in IN

View mafe's profile


12592 posts in 3864 days

#14 posted 05-20-2014 09:26 PM

I think they are beautiful, elegant and simple, beautiful finish.
But I’m hooked…
You can read a lot more here about Japanese tool boxes.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Mean_Dean's profile


7041 posts in 3922 days

#15 posted 05-21-2014 12:07 AM

Great looking boxes—simple and elegant!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

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