Wooden Briefcase Style. Expansion question

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Forum topic by KevBotWorkshop posted 05-14-2017 09:39 AM 641 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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24 posts in 1014 days

05-14-2017 09:39 AM

Topic tags/keywords: design expansion question help thoughts

Hi all,

I am a weekend woodworker so I know a decent amount but by no means a pro.

I am looking to start a new project but am running into a snag on the design. My goal is to essentially create a wooden brief case sorta. I have some board games that I have created my own maps for and would like to house them in a box with all the game pieces. My thought was to make a wooden box with a double hing so that the top can open a full 180 degrees. The back part of the box will not be connected but only by hinges on the top and the bottom to allow for the full opening. Think of a cigar box but deeper.

Any who this is not the problem, just wanted to give a visual as to what I am making. My goal is to make this box out of solid wood. I would not like to use plywood as I will be routing down for some relief. For each tray top/bottom in theory would be 3 sides and a bottom. (the 4th side would not be connected as stated above) I was going to just glue the sides of the box straight on to the bottom or create a rabbet on the sides and have it accept the bottom. My only worry is that I should account for expansion and contraction. Really just need to hear some thoughts on in this issue. Is this something I should take into account? Is there a way I could work around it?

Photo for reference, I am concerned about the blue part.


-- Kevin Johnson, Chicago IL, Instagram - @KevBotWorkshop

4 replies so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

4574 posts in 1218 days

#1 posted 05-14-2017 12:45 PM

If the grain is running NW to SE, expansion would happen between your hinges and the end of the panel. The only problem I see would be with the strips running along the edges (running SW to NE in your drawing), which you could attach in the middle and let the ends “float” with any movement in the panels.

How big of a box are you talking? Attaché size? A little worry about panel movement, depending on the wood you use. Smaller? Almost no worry. If you’re making it larger, make those panels in two pieces, ship-lapped together so they can slide and have the green bits attached at the outside edges (near the hinge and the latch) and let the panels move.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View splintergroup's profile


3288 posts in 1858 days

#2 posted 05-14-2017 01:51 PM

Dave’s concerns are spot on.
Typically a large non-plywood panel would be trapped inside a frame with a groove. the panel would only be attached (glued) to the frame at the centers of the end-grain edges.

Alternatively you could make more of a bread-board style end for the lid panel and attach the box side pieces to that. The piece running length-wise would only be glued to the long grain portion of the panel, no glue where the corners meet.

View KevBotWorkshop's profile


24 posts in 1014 days

#3 posted 05-14-2017 05:59 PM

I think I might make the tops and bottom with plywood. Though I didnt want to, I think it will just be less of a hassle. I bought some Hickory without doing any research on the species, and from what I hear it is a pain in the butt for how hard it is. So I think Ill just switched to plywood and make my life a little easier. Thanks for input guys.

-- Kevin Johnson, Chicago IL, Instagram - @KevBotWorkshop

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4284 days

#4 posted 05-14-2017 06:07 PM

You can attach the panels using elongated
screw holes in the green parts. Assuming
it’s 12” wide it will move maybe 1/4”
seasonally so on either side of the center
screw (or glue) about a pair of 3/16” long
slots should do well enough.

In terms of plywood it is feasible to take
a 1/4” piece of hardboard, glue solid
wood edge bands all around and then
veneer it, mimicking the appearance of
solid wood but in a more stable panel.

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