Introduction: Wooden Bento Lunch Box

Pack a cute lunch and make everyone in the cafeteria jealous with your sweet custom bento box!

Bento boxes are super cool, but SO expensive online! I made this one from materials I had around the house; it was practically free! It took me less than two hours to make, and I don't have much woodworking experience.

Why pay $60 for a bento box when you can make one at home for FREE?

NOTE: The included photos are from the construction of multiple bento boxes, the first bento I made was a trial box constructed with plywood, the others with poplar.

Step 1: Materials

  • 1/4" untreated, non-toxic scrap wood (the better the wood, the prettier the box)
  • gorilla glue (it's food safe after cured!)
  • sandpaper
  • paint and shellac OR mineral oil

See... who doesn't have this stuff laying around?

NOTE: Research the wood you are using to ensure it is safe for use with food.
These links may help:

http://www.mimf.com/archives/toxic.htm
http://www.mnwoodturners.com/New_Member_Docs/Toxic_Woods_Chart.html

Step 2: Determine Box Size

Bento boxes are smaller than most people expect. Food is packed tightly, filling the entire space; A bento is not packed the same as a tupperware.

Click here to determine the size your bento box. This website takes height, sex and activity level into account to calculate the correct box size. Although the box may seem small, it will hold enough calories for a meal.

Some bento boxes have spacers, so take the spacer size into account when you size your bento box.

This is how I calculated the size of my box:

Convert milliliters to cubic inches. You can use google if you don't want to do the math by hand, just enter "600 mililitres to cubic inches" in google.

600 milliliters = 36.61 cubic inches


So, you want :

height x width x length = 36 cu in


The dimensions of the box I made are:

1.5 in x 6 in x 4 in = 36 cu in


To determine the dimensions of your box, just modify these three numbers until you get close to the desired volume.

Step 3: Cut the Wood

After you've chosen your dimensions, cut the pieces out. See the attached photo, it details the dimensions of my box.

You will have a total of 8 pieces:

- 2 lid pieces
- 1 bottom
- 4 sides
- 1 divider

The lid consists of two pieces, the first piece of wood sits inside of the box, preventing the lid from sliding around, it has the width and length of the opening in the box; the second piece sits on top of the box, and has the same width and length of the box.

Step 4: Build the Box

Glue the box together, clamp (OR.. if you don't have clamps, find a way to rig it up like I did).

Glue the two lid pieces together. Spread glue, and sandwich together. Line the lid up with the box to ensure it is positioned correctly. Clamp.

Wipe excess glue if it foams from the seams.

Step 5: Decorate or Finish

If you've used nice wood, you can finish your project by rubbing with food grade mineral oil on the box. Just rub the oil in until the wood will not absorb any more. You can coat the mineral oil finish with beeswax if you'd like. Be sure to reapply mineral oil as needed.


NOTE: I am not sure shellac is all safe for use with food. Please spend some time researching this more if you would like to use the method described below. Shellac is used in candy and pills, so I felt safe using it.

You can also paint and shellac your box. I pained one of my bento's, attached pictures with Modge Podge, and sprayed with shellac.

Step 6: All Done!

You can make a bento belt with ribbon, elastic and a small wooden charm. Simply sew a short length of elastic to the ribbon, forming a ring.

Fill your bento with cute food!

If you need some help, check these out:
https://www.instructables.com/id/Crafting-a-Bento/

Comments

author
EdnaH made it!(author)2014-12-26

i would not use paint on a surface food will touch. outside surface should be ok. nice box but not leak proof. to be leak proof you need a gasket between levels and between lid and box layer as well as levels that are butted together. there are microwavable bento boxes as well. bento boxes are not expensive. and fyi, bento means "convenience or portable" container and not named after any particular kind of food combination. however, there are recipes that are specific to bento boxes as a result of creating storage safe environment for food so that one is not getting sick from eating ones portable lunch.

good link for referencing bento box recipes regarding food safety and so much more:

http://justbento.com/handbook/bento-basics/keeping-your-bento-lunch-safe

author
rainbowcyclone made it!(author)2014-11-02

I really like this, haha but I'd have to go buy everything on the list XD I'm probably one of the few houses that doesn't carry any of the tools needed. I'm planing on dieting soon and I think something l like this could help me out with portion control. How easy does this clean? I figured it has to be hand washed...

author
acoleman3 made it!(author)2014-10-11

oh, an ideal sealant for this is almond oil, which you can get from gnc. it's the same thing used to seal/reseal butcher block and wood counter tops. you can also use brush on behlen salad bowl finish http://www.shellac.net/salad_bowl_finish_info.html.

author
acoleman3 made it!(author)2014-10-08

hah! i could do this! sure beats scouring the net and ordering one made from unknown materials and no guarantee as to how well it's crafted. you are a jewel love!

author
Viali+Jones made it!(author)2014-02-21

Can you make a divider or two which are able to be moved around inside the box? Such as one to divide it in half and one to divide a half into quarters?
Also, do you think you could make a two tiered box just by making two matching bottom pieces and a lid, then holding it together with an elastic band?

author
domamir made it!(author)2014-02-05

Your links to toxic wood charts are dead. This is a good link;

http://www.shopsmithacademy.com/Tips_Archives/TP12...

If you want to paint your bento box, only paint the OUTSIDE. You want food safe finish on the inside. Paint is not always food safe. The following links are on food safe wood finishes.

https://www.finewoodworking.com/how-to/article/foo...

http://www.arbutusarts.com/food-safe-wood-finish.h...

author
wizgirl made it!(author)2014-02-06

Thanks for the new links!

author
susanchen2011 made it!(author)2012-08-02

I believe it is delicious and healthy.

author
AoshiShinomori made it!(author)2012-03-04

Is it okay to spraypaint the inside then coat it with Mineral Oil???

author
bshin1 made it!(author)2011-07-31

This is really great! I've been looking for a way to create my own bento box - and this is just what I've been looking for. Do you think it would be possible to paint the box? Thank you! ^^

author
wizgirl made it!(author)2011-08-14

Cool, I hope you make one! Just make sure the paint is food-safe.

author
Dulaman made it!(author)2010-10-11

How did you figure your dimensions off of mls?
I'm not any to great with math, so I'm a bit confused ^^'
the site you linked to put me at 600-700 ml, could you suggest how to find the right box dimentions?

author
wizgirl made it!(author)2010-10-11
Hi megatherium,

This is how I figured the size: Convert milliliters to cubic inches. You can use google if you don't want to do the math by hand, just enter "600 mililitres to cubic inches" in google.

600 milliliters = 36.61 cubic inches


So, you want :

height x width x length = 36 cu in


The dimensions of the box I made are:

1.5 in x 6 in x 4 in = 36 cu in


To determine the dimensions of your box, just modify these three numbers until you get close to the desired volume. Hopefully this helps! Please post some photos if you make a box.

author
Dulaman made it!(author)2010-10-11

thankyou so much! I might get around to making one if I can find some wood laying around :) thanks for the great instructable.

author
fireraisr made it!(author)2010-09-20

a note to would be makers, certain woods can leach toxins into your food and make you sick. Be sure to only use untreated wood of a species you know to be toxin free, pine is always a safe bet.

author
wizgirl made it!(author)2010-09-20

thanks, i'll add a note to the instructable also.

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