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Project by Boxguy posted 12-13-2013 06:21 AM 3865 views 20 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Thanks for looking at this project. I will reply to all Lumberlanders who take time to “have your say” in the next 24 hours, so check back for feedback. There is a tutorial index at the end of this posting that will show you how to build the jigs and learn the techniques for building boxes like this valet Josh built.

Pictured is a large (15 x 8×6) Hard Maple and African Mahogany valet that Josh made in the shop this past month. The box corner splines are mahogany and the tray corner splines are maple. This valet was made and designed by Josh and features a protruding, divided lift-out tray made to hold a wallet, ring, keys, and watch. The tray is designed to slide along 1/4 inch thick rails that run along the front and back of the box. The round silver thing you see is a removable cup used to hold pocket change. The coin cup fits snugly into its own mahogany holder. Josh made this valet as a gift for his dad’s birthday which was last week.

Josh has been learning boxmaking since this summer. He puts aside one shop day a week, and we work in the evenings from 7 to 11 after he has already put in a long day of office work. Josh is a quick learner with an artist’s eye and can draw beautifully. He has also made a jewelry box for his wife, a backpack storage unit for his young children, and a set of 7 Kleenex boxes for his wider family. Josh is working on assembling his own shop at home and has begun to buy some of the larger tools he will need.

Focus: Basic Layout

Josh and I worked together to make sure this box works and does its intended job. We laid out this valet from the inside to the outside. First, we laid out the wallet, keys, watch, and ring on a large sheet of graph paper with 1/4 inch squares. Second, we drew a 1/2 inch wide rectangle around them to represent the box’s sturdy sliding tray. Next we added a 5/8 inch rectangle outside the tray to represent the sides of the box. Lastly we added the cup. We wanted to have room to reach in the box, and pull out the cup without having to remove the tray to do it. So that gave us all the dimensions we needed to know for the box’s length and width. The height was pretty arbitrary, but we wanted room inside for bulky items. 6” sides looked to be a good height to go with the 14” length. The tray is about 3” deep.

Josh’s decision to used paired splines gives an attractive look, and raising the tray above the box sides features the good work he did on the tray and gives the box added room so we can slide the tray over the top of the change cup.

Summary: Making a full-sized drawing and starting with the actual objects you intend to store in the box and then working from the inside to the outside dimensions will ensure that your box will be laid out correctly to do its intended job.

Keep boxing and keep posting.

Tutorials: For methods used to make boxes like those pictured above just click on the blue links below. They are arranged by topic.

Combining Wood Colors:
Jig for 45ing corners:
Routers and Rounding edges
Why round box corners?
Organizing a glue-up table:
$5 band clamps:
Making splines with a simple jig:
Adding splines to a box:
Making a jig to cut spline slots:
Measuring for spline slot cuts:
Installing an attached top: like that pictured above.
Cutting off the box top and sizing piano hinges
Adding finger indents:
More about finger indents.
Mortising and installing hinges:
Tips on making trays: for inside boxes:
Finishing tips:
Swapping Wood By Mail:

-- Big Al in IN

20 comments so far

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 3314 days

#1 posted 12-13-2013 10:52 AM

Your boxes are always so smooth and great looking and you have made so many awesome boxes. I never tire of looking at your boxes Al…..excellent work and thanks for the tutorials you always supply at the bottom of every project…..:)

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View jbschutz's profile


624 posts in 4181 days

#2 posted 12-13-2013 01:16 PM

Great project, Al. Beautiful and practical…well designed. I think it’s especially great that you are mentoring this young woodworker. Your skills and artistry will live on through him.

-- jbschutz

View R_Stad's profile


451 posts in 3333 days

#3 posted 12-13-2013 01:27 PM

I always enjoy seeing your fine craftsmanship. I must say I think I admire your generous approach to life through woodworking even more. Keep up the good work.

-- Rod - Oregon

View Tennessee's profile


2936 posts in 4004 days

#4 posted 12-13-2013 01:32 PM

Excellent craftsmanship, Al. Beautiful finishes. Keep them coming!!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View doubleDD's profile


11370 posts in 3533 days

#5 posted 12-13-2013 01:56 PM

Looks like you have Josh on the right track. I’m sure you guided him in the right direction. You both did a excellent job. Is there anything holding the cup from spilling?

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4356 days

#6 posted 12-13-2013 02:14 PM

This is a beautiful box and thanks for the tutorial.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View a1Jim's profile


118333 posts in 5067 days

#7 posted 12-13-2013 02:24 PM

View balidoug's profile


536 posts in 3968 days

#8 posted 12-13-2013 02:54 PM

I really like this design, BG; consider it stolen and added it to my to-be-built list. Great execution as well.

-- From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. Immanuel Kant

View Boxguy's profile


2905 posts in 3757 days

#9 posted 12-13-2013 03:08 PM


Dave, it helps that maple and mahogany are reasonably hard woods, but Josh did a super job of sanding and finishing this box. He is patient and willing to spend time on details. Thanks for the kind words. They are appreciated.

JB, I think in their heart of hearts most woodworkers hope they can build something that will be treasured by a future generation. It is an aspect of woodworking that I seldom see mentioned on Lumberjock postings, but a bid toward immortality lies unwritten and unsung in many of the posting on this site. I treasure a box that my father made in his high school shop class.

Rod, thanks, one of the advantages of growing older is that you begin to appreciate the nice things others did for you in your life. Since most of those people have passed away, I can honor their example by helping others.

Paul, thanks. Josh did a nice job on this design and work. He is starting to put his own twist on things.

Dave, there is a tight fitting hole in the “stand” at the bottom of the box. The cup fits down into it about an inch deep. It holds it quiet nicely. His dad is left-handed and as soon as we figure which hand he uses to take change out of his pockets we’ll attach the holder permanently. It is a great privilege to be a small part of a quality young man’s life. Josh is a caring, generous person.

Charles, thanks for the kind words. Tutorials are fun for me to do. I liked your shop and grandpa projects. Looks like it is time for you to add to your posted projects.

Jim, thanks for the comment. Hope sales are doing well.

Doug, Lumberjocks encourages design theft. I certainly do. It is the ultimate compliment on this site. Let me know how your version turns out.

-- Big Al in IN

View abie's profile


930 posts in 5260 days

#10 posted 12-13-2013 03:20 PM

Ditto to all the accolades above

-- Bruce. a mind is like a book it is only useful when open.

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8659 posts in 4842 days

#11 posted 12-13-2013 03:27 PM

Love the box Al. All of your work has the look of something that has been well thought out in every aspect.
Everything you make says ..I will last a lifetime.
And your tutorial’s are great as well.

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30679 posts in 3828 days

#12 posted 12-13-2013 03:30 PM

Very unique sir. Love it.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View shipwright's profile


8820 posts in 4287 days

#13 posted 12-13-2013 03:36 PM

Good work Al, and I’m not really commenting on Josh’s box although it is a very nice piece.
I’m talking about your willingness to share and teach your techniques and methods to any and all who wish to read them. I’m sure many beginning woodworkers have been guided by your advice and I’m also sure that some more experienced ones have picked up on your production ideas as well.
You are a good Lumberjocks citizen in my book.
Thank you.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Woodbridge's profile


3755 posts in 3907 days

#14 posted 12-13-2013 03:41 PM

A great post and project. Thanks for including the list of tutorials, all of which are very helpful.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View exit116's profile


140 posts in 3281 days

#15 posted 12-13-2013 04:09 PM

thank again for all you do, happy holidays to all who love the art of boxing

-- Money: if you do not have fun earning it, have fun spending it, I do not enjoy spending it so I have fun earning it.

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