Boxguy Says, "Tis Me; Tissue"

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Project by Boxguy posted 07-03-2012 05:21 AM 13432 views 101 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Pictured: A simple wooden tissue box cover. The one on the left is cherry and walnut and the one on the right is made of Padauk sapwood and White Oak with ebony corner splines. It is a 5 1/2 inch cube of 1/2 to 3/8 inch thick wood. There are others pictured of various woods. All are made to the same size and shape.

You can make these with a two foot board and a 6 inch square scrap for the top. This post also includes a how-to section and a jig for larger production runs if you are interested in that.

Story: This is a simple design and is a great starting point for developing skills used in building boxes and inserting splines. I started making these before I made boxes and now I build these with young, or beginning wood workers to get them started on the process of box making. To be honest these make great gifts, but it is difficult to make much money on these as a sale item. Customers won’t pay too much for a Kleenex cover. There is some profit in them if you make them efficiently enough. However, they are really simple, easy, and fun to make with a few tips.


Cutting: Start with a 5 1/2 inch wide board 24 inches long, planed to 1/2 to 3/8 inches thick. Cut it into 5 1/2” lengths, and 45 each end.

Sides: Re-assemble the board as it was originally…putting the long sides up. Now, tape these segments together, turn them over, apply glue on the angles and roll up the four sides as a square taped together band clamp it tightly until the glue dries. Now you have the vertical sides made.

Top: Apply glue to the top of your sides, center the slightly oversized top on the sides so that the hole with routed edges is in the center of the sides. Tape the top in place with an x of masking tape. If you don’t tape it down, the top will slide around on the glue and will move off center as you tighten down the bolt.

Clamping: Here you see a simple clamping jig for making these. It is two 5 inch squares of plywood with a hole in the center and a 6 1/2 inch long 1/2 inch nut and bolt with a washer under the nut and the head. Tighten this with a pair of wrenches, or if you are lucky enough to have one an impact drill will speed up the process. This will give you a great fit on the top joint and you won’t need any other clamps. (Hint for making several of these at once: If you apply the top and light pressure on your bolt clamp before you completely tighten your band clamp around the sides, your sides will all have perfect alignment with the top. Once you have fully tightened the band clamp, fully tighten the bolt clamp. This method means you only have to wait once for all the glue to dry.)

This is a simple box made to organize the clamps, bolts, and wrenches. It sure is handy when you can just pick this up and go to work making your covers without wandering around the shop looking for things.

Final Steps: Trim the top to the sides, cut spline slots, glue in splines, round to suit your taste, final sand, then apply finish. Put at least one coat on the inside to seal the wood.

Efficient Production Runs:

What’s This? This crazy looking thing is a mandrel to hold these tissue covers while you sand them. It is not worth making this for just one or two covers, but if you are going to make 6 or more of them for Christmas presents or wedding favors; it might be worth the time to make one of these and keep it on hand for future production runs. It starts with three 2×6 segments screwed together so you get a 4 1/2 inch square “post” to slide the cover onto.

How is it used? Here you see two boxes attached to the mandrel. The one on the right will hold the cover while you sand the top. Notice the plywood ends to hold the cover proud of the center so you can sand the center hole by hand. Note that there is a nut and octagonal wooden “washer” to keep the cover from sliding off the horizontal mandrel as you sand. On the bottom is a cleat that I put in the vise to hold the whole mandrel in place as I work on the covers. (Hint: If your cover rattles and is not a tight fit on the post, wrap a thin rag around the post before you slide the cover on.)

How does it help? This is where you really get a benefit from using this mandrel. There is a hinge at the back that lets you lift the post and there is a flap at the back attached to the hinge. The flap has a bolt through it into the center of the back end of the horizontal post. This means you can spin the post and put it back between the two front triangular stabilizers again. In other words you can turn the cover from side to side without removing it from the post. This makes sanding go much quicker since you have easy top access to all four sides. Since I round the sides I can sand a side, corner, and side then turn the post and the cover.

Critique and Pointers: These work well and are a super way to use up small scraps of pretty wood hanging around the shop. The weight makes it easy to pull out the tissues and they do look nicer than the cardboard boxes. There is some slight variation in box size among different brands of tissue. If your cover is too small some brands will not fit; so leave a little extra room inside. A round hole works about as well as an oval and is easier to make. Be sure to route the bottom side of your hole before assembly. If you sell or give them to others, buy a box of tissue and put it inside so you don’t have to explain what it is. It is worth the money and the process goes more smoothly.

Thanks: As always thanks for looking and a special thanks to everyone in Lumber Land who takes time to make comments and suggestions. Keep boxing…keep posting and making this posting a “Top Three” is a real show of support and keeps me excited about doing things in the shop and on line. I appreciate all your support.

-- Big Al in IN

20 comments so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile (online now)


22145 posts in 4892 days

#1 posted 07-03-2012 05:47 AM

Nice work and nice lesson boxguy!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 4318 days

#2 posted 07-03-2012 07:04 AM

Boxguy thinks outside the box doesn’t he??? Nicely done…................

-- mike...............

View GrandpaLen's profile


1652 posts in 3489 days

#3 posted 07-03-2012 09:45 AM

Hey, Big Al

Good lookin’ tissue box covers.

And a great production combo jig. – Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4525 days

#4 posted 07-03-2012 12:33 PM

That is definitely a creative solution to blue your tissue boxes. Very Nice…!

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 5003 days

#5 posted 07-03-2012 12:50 PM

Very nice boxes and mini tutorial!

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4021 days

#6 posted 07-03-2012 12:59 PM

You are a super boxologist!

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

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 4284 days

#7 posted 07-03-2012 02:40 PM

Great job!! Thanks for sharing your ideas.

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View Pdub's profile


926 posts in 4397 days

#8 posted 07-03-2012 03:47 PM

Nice lookin tissue box covers. I may have to make some rof my craft show in Nov. I may have to make a mandrel as well. Thanks!

-- Paul, North Dakota, USAF Ret.

View SergeantSawDust's profile


174 posts in 3399 days

#9 posted 07-03-2012 04:49 PM

Boxguy, you make some beautiful boxes! Keep it coming! Thanks for sharing.

-- Woodworking for the hobbyist woodworker.

View Boxguy's profile


2900 posts in 3484 days

#10 posted 07-03-2012 11:42 PM

Thanks to everyone. What fun to get support and feedback from Lumber Land. It is magical that some guy in a little shop in Southern Indiana can hear from fellow woodworkers from all over the country about some boxes he has made. What a wonderful age we live in.

-- Big Al in IN

View rfa6's profile


11 posts in 3471 days

#11 posted 07-04-2012 12:45 AM

Beautiful work!

View TimWood's profile


196 posts in 3458 days

#12 posted 07-04-2012 12:02 PM

The tissue boxes are nicely done….but the jig!!! That’s an awesome idea. Thank you!

-- Tim Harrelson

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 4249 days

#13 posted 07-07-2012 06:59 AM

Very Nice Projects! Thanks for Posting!


-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

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4883 posts in 3729 days

#14 posted 12-03-2012 12:53 PM

Wow I missed these, very nice.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View kronewi's profile


11 posts in 4235 days

#15 posted 04-26-2013 05:56 PM

I see you have made many of these boxes. Can you tell me what you have found to be a good size hole in the top of the 2 types of tissue boxes? (Oblong and Square). I am going to make up a template but I am not sure what to use for the ellipses dimensions.


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