Pill Box

  • Advertise with us
Project by Timmy2Hands posted 01-03-2018 12:28 AM 2144 views 7 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Pill Box

Working really small is a way to challenge your skills and build your attention to detail. Small mistakes will show up in a really big way.

This little pill box is 2” wide, 1 1/4” deep, and 1” tall

I’m not sure what species it is, but I know it’s a Brazilian hardwood. The liner is made from pine and the alignment inlay is quarter sawn maple.

For me woodworking is not about the thing I’m making, it’s about the making itself. That’s why I choose a hand tool only method. It’s quiet and relaxing work and I always end up with something beautiful.

A while back I was given about ten of these hardwood flooring sample sheets. Each sample is a different species like Brazilian Tiger, Angelim, Tiete Chestnut, and Brazilian Cherry. This one was unmarked but does have “product of Brazil” printed on the back of each board.

The tongue and groove boards are just hot glued to a backer and I was able to pop them off pretty easily.

I tried card scrapers and cabinet scrapers to remove the glue but it just kept gumming up. The best way i found was just using a thick knife blade as a scraper.

The thick polyeurethane was also a challenge, card scraper – no go, 60 grit – too much dust and too much time. Back to the knife blade, works like a charm.

Once the glue and poly were removed I used my #3 hand plane and a card scraper to smooth things out.

I got out my shooting board to remove the tongue and groove from either side.

The boards are about 1/4” thick but I want this pill box to be really petite so I glued a 1/8” thick paint stick to a piece of hardboard and added a cleat to create a bench hook with a very low fence. This #4 has been converted to a scrub plane with a heavily cambered iron and a wide open mouth. I thicknessed the piece down to 1/8” thick.

So now I’ve got a board that is 7” x 2 3/4” and 1/8” thick to get my box pieces out of.

I ran a guage line 3/4” away from the edge, clamped the piece down to the bench and used my dovetail saw to cut off the piece that will become the box sides.

With a board this thin the high tooth count and small teeth of a dovetail saw really help to not break the piece when you are cutting it.

I cut very close to the line but never cross it.

The shooting board cleans up the cut and brings it to size. I also clean up the off cut because it will be used to get the top and bottom pieces later.

I set two adjustale squares to the lengths I’ll need for the sides of the box.

2” and 1 1/4”

I want the grain pattern to wrap around the sides of the box so I mark in 1 1/4” from the right for the right panel, saw it off and shoot the end to clean it up, shoot the sawn end, and mark in 2” for the front piece, and then another 1 1/4” piece, and then the final 2” piece for the back.

This was all the waste from the 7” long board.

In order to ensure a square glue up your long pieces and short pieces have to be exactly the same size.

To cut the miters I installed my “donkey’s ear” on the shooting board. It holds the workpiece at 45 degrees to the sole of the plane.

I work my way down till the miter just touches the corner. I have a thin paint stick against the fence as a sacrificial backer to prevent chip out.

I put the pieces together and wrap with blue tape to check that the miters fit together without gaps.

If everything looks good open it up and apply glue to the joints and re-tape to dry.

I used Tightbond Liquid Hide Glue for this project.

The next morning the glue is dry, but with thin side walls and only end grain to end grain joints I keep the tape on until I’m ready for the top and bottom panels. I take a few minutes to even up any inconsistency by rubbing on some 150 and 220 grit sandpaper glued to a piece of glass.

Move in a figure eight motion to keep from uneven sanding.

I want to add a marker to help show which way the lid goes on. I decided to inlay a lighter piece of wood that will span the gap when I cut off the lid. I need to chisel out a recess that is 1/8” wide, 1/4” long, and 1/16” deep to accept the inlay.

As it sits this little box is too fragile to hold in the vise so i had to improvise.

A long walnut strip is held down to the bench top and overhangs the edge by about 3/4”. The box lays on top and is pressed against the side of the bench and a smaller piece of walnut is clamped on top to pinch the box in place. This allows me to do the chisel work without adding pressure to the glue joints.

For the inlay I went through my maple scraps and found that the edge of this cut-off had a really nice quarter sawn grain pattern. I marked out a 1/8” x 1/4” area and used my dozuki saw to cut close to the lines and then just popped the piece out with a chisel.

The inlay piece is worked on sandpaper until it just fits the recess.

I’m not worried about it sitting proud of the surface, I’ll bring it down flush after it’s glued in place.

Once the glue is dry it’s back to my clamping set-up to clean it up.

Now for the top and bottom panels.

I made sure to get the lid piece from the area directly adjacent to where the front panel was. The bottom panel is not as important.

Both panels are cut slightly over size and glued in place.

Now that the glue is dry the box is strong enough to remove the blue tape. I take the box to the shooting board to flush-up the top and bottom panels.

When I make bigger boxes this is the point that I get out my smoothing plane and get the final finish on the outside of the box before I cut off the lid. This box is way too small for that, so I hand sanded this one with 150, 220, and 400 grit.

I marked a line all the way around the box 1/4” down from the top and again used my thin kerfed dozuki saw to cut off the lid. Then the mating surfaces are worked on sandpaper until they come together without any gaps.

Remember, figure eights.

The lid is going to be held in place by the box liner. I could use just about any species here, but I like the smell of unfinished pine.

I use paint sticks all the time in the workshop for all kinds of tasks. These are the higher quality ones that Home Depot sells for $1 a pack. I looked though some untill I found one with nice tight straight grain. They are right at 1/8” thick but I planed it down to about 1/16”

I trimmed them down and used the shooting board to get an exact fit for each of the four sides.

They are marked to keep them in the right position and then I miter the edges just as I did for the box sides. I will not glue these in, the friction and the tight fit alone will be enough to keep them in place and if one gets damaged somehow i can replace them.

The finish is as simple as it gets, wipe on Watco Danish Oil. I keep the surface wet until the wood stops soaking it in and then wipe off the excess. I did not apply any finish to the inside of the pine liner, just the top edge.

I’ll let it cure for about a week and then I’ll apply some funiture wax and buff it out.

Thanks for following along, I hope you found it enjoyable if not useful.

If you have any questions about my tools or techniques please leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer.

-- Tim McCoy - @Timmy2Hands on Instagram

17 comments so far

View Ben's profile


471 posts in 3664 days

#1 posted 01-03-2018 01:55 AM

That’s very sweet work! Love the tiny scale.

View pottz's profile


10357 posts in 1792 days

#2 posted 01-03-2018 02:06 AM

pretty cool little box,i love your detailed photo tour really tells the story.a little to little for my eyes and hands though.excellent craftsmanship.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View icemanhank's profile


523 posts in 2964 days

#3 posted 01-03-2018 02:17 AM

Beautiful work mate, thx for all the pics I think I might give one of these a try myself.

-- "These are my principles. And if you don't like them, I have others." ... Cheers, David from Sydney Australia

View Boxguy's profile


2879 posts in 3075 days

#4 posted 01-03-2018 02:28 AM

Tim, working in miniature is a good way to build skills…and patience. Thanks for taking us through the process. Nice work. Sadly when most of us get older we need something like this. Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View Oaker's profile


55 posts in 2141 days

#5 posted 01-03-2018 03:03 AM

This is great. Thanks for all the details you provided. I enjoy seeing what methods people use.

-- Larry - Illinois

View CFrye's profile


11025 posts in 2647 days

#6 posted 01-03-2018 06:49 AM

Beautifully crafted, Timmy! I especially like the ripple in the grain in the center of the lid.

-- God bless, Candy

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1455 days

#7 posted 01-03-2018 11:17 AM

Amazing work … well documented. WOW! I agree with Candy, the grain ripple on the lid is striking. Good eye.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5669 posts in 1390 days

#8 posted 01-03-2018 12:22 PM

Nice work and a very thorough write-up. Thanks for letting us follow along!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View MrLaughingbrook's profile


216 posts in 2775 days

#9 posted 01-03-2018 01:48 PM

Fantastic. Working small is fun.

-- MrLaughingbrook

View OnhillWW's profile


247 posts in 2040 days

#10 posted 01-03-2018 03:58 PM

Great Job! Enjoyed your work and the writeup / photos, nicely done. Thanks.

-- Cheap is expensive! - my Dad

View GTR14's profile


9 posts in 1597 days

#11 posted 01-03-2018 04:58 PM

Beautiful, I appreciate the detailed steps. It sure helped me to learn how you made the joints so good.

-- Gregg

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3674 days

#12 posted 01-03-2018 06:30 PM

Timmy, this box is a wonderful piece and you have done a beautiful job on it. It displays fine wood and other features and a lot of nice craftsmanship. It’s a real eye catcher.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View drewpy's profile


1039 posts in 2164 days

#13 posted 01-03-2018 10:00 PM

This is great. Thanks for all the details.

-- Drew -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View Timmy2Hands's profile


200 posts in 1772 days

#14 posted 01-04-2018 03:47 AM

Ben, Larry, David, Big Al, “OAker” Larry, Candy, Ron, Dave, MrLaughingbrook, OnhillWW, Gregg, Charles, and Drew.
Thank you all for the kind words, they are much appreciated.

-- Tim McCoy - @Timmy2Hands on Instagram

View Ivan's profile


16083 posts in 3675 days

#15 posted 01-04-2018 05:27 PM

So small! Awesome! You have patience realy!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics