Introduction: Folding Sewing Box - for Beginners

Picture of Folding Sewing Box - for Beginners

This project could be as easy or as complicated as you want. It really suits all ability levels. I'm a beginner without a table saw, router, or the ability to do flashy joints, so the version pictured is very much a beginners' version.
The good news for beginners is that it's a fairly forgiving project. You're essentially making five open topped boxes, so it's nothing but right angles, and any minor corrections can be made along the way.

Step 1: Starters

(all measurements in MILLIMETRES)

I used a board 13mm thick so...

For bottom drawer
i. Base 300 x 150
ii. Ends 150 x 100 (x2)
iii. Front and back 300 x 113 (x2)
This makes the bottom drawer quite tall. You may want to reduce the height a bit.

For other drawers
i. Base 150 x 150 (x4)
ii. Ends 150 x 50 (x8)
iii. Fronts and backs 150 x 63 (x8)

For tops
176 x 150 (x2)

You'll also need knobs for the top (x2), handles for the sides, and 12 support arms.

Beginner tip (alternatively, Learn from my mistakes) -
Depending on what finish you've decided on, and what wood you've chosen, you might want to be careful to ensure the grain is going the same way on all pieces. My wife decided she wanted it painted, so it wasn't really an issue, but for more prominent grains and varnished finishes, it certainly would be.

Step 2: Bottom Drawer

I've chosen to put the boxes together this way for two reasons. Because of a lack of advanced tools and ability, and because I didn't want any nails or screws showing. Mainly the ability thing, though.

So the end pieces are glued, and nailed from underneath. You might want to drill guide holes first to avoid splitting, if you have a drill bit small enough. The front and back are then glued into place.

Step 3: Drawers

Picture of Drawers

Just repeat the process - nail from underneath and glue everywhere else.

Step 4: Starting the Finish

Picture of Starting the Finish

This is where you stack it all together and find where it isn't true. And then you start sanding.
Once you're happy with it, time to apply the finish. For this one, my wife chose cream paint.

Step 5: Assembling Side Supports

Picture of Assembling Side Supports

Each side of each set of drawers needs three diagonal supports enabling the drawers to be folded in and out.

Math is where it usually falls apart for me. So this bit's great fun, as you can imagine.

The 'outside' arms are the same length (supporting two drawers each), the central one longer (supporting all three). The measurements in the picture refer only to the drill points. The arms themselves should be several millimetres longer.

I painted the arms brown to contrast with the cream of the boxes. When I sanded the first coat, they had a worn, vintage look that I liked so I left them like that.

Assemble as per plan. This is extremely screwupable (technical term), so concentrate while you do this in a distraction-free environment. Perhaps put washers between the arms and the boxes.

Then add the end handles.

Step 6: Bonus Stage

Picture of Bonus Stage

You might be thinking about a handle, and most examples I've seen of a sewing box do have a handle extending up from the bottom drawer, over the top and down to the other side of the bottom drawer.

Yeah, about that... I'm a bit concerned that the wood used here is a bit soft. Plus I'm going to have to fabricate a handle myself. Something I don't fancy at all. The box is big enough without giving it even more height. Plus I think it hinders access to the bottom drawer.

So instead it's going to be a two-hand lift. Slightly less convenient, but never mind. And for that purpose, I'm adding feet under the corners so you can slide fingers underneath.

Then it's just adding the hinges and handles and knobs and it's ready.


Royal_Tudor made it! (author)2016-12-23

As a disabled 'new to woodworking' woodworker I was looking for a project that would challenge the skills I had acquired and help me develop new ones. Oak, sapele, box joints & routed box edges to neaten things up.

the_judges made it! (author)2015-04-25

i love it an my wife too but my screws in the Support Arms loosen it themselves if i open an close the sides....Not at all but some of them and i screw them every 2 Weeks :-(

jclimpson (author)the_judges2015-04-25

Very nice!
If that's happening, it sounds like perhaps the holes in the arms aren't quite big enough. I had to make sure that while the screws were rigid in the box wall, they were quite loose in the support arm. That should avoid loosening the screws any more.

markmoran made it! (author)2015-03-10

Thanks for the awesome Instructable! I'd never heard of a sewing box, but my wife recently took up sewing and this made the perfect gift for her new hobby. I made the box from about 12' of solid 1" birch boards that I planed down to 15mm thick and cut to all the dimensions you specified, even practicing working in metric. :)

I made the supports out of aluminum to practice working with metal, then added wood pegs to hold thread spools.

ASCTMVRTX (author)2015-02-22

This is rad!

dsantil71 (author)2015-02-22

That is so nice! I'm sure ur wife will love it, as a sewer myself I know I would!!

Alderin (author)2015-02-09

Very cool project, I may just have to make one.

As for a carry handle, I'd go with a belt or a strap with a quick detach: doesn't add to the height, doesn't get in the way, isn't hard to fabricate. Rivet the strap to the bottom and make small guide channels in the top drawers to keep the box from slipping out of the loop and tipping over while carrying. :-)

dsantil71 (author)Alderin2015-02-22

I was thinking something like leather would look really nice, webbing would work extremely well as well!!

Cally31 (author)2015-02-08

this is awesome! This can be used for any storage needs. I thing you should visit and post it on her site. She and others like yourself build awesome stuff. Check it out!

dsantil71 (author)Cally312015-02-22

I second that idea!!

rdeleon1 (author)2015-02-18

What did you use to connect the support arms to the box?

myusernameoops (author)2015-02-18

Brilliant idea so quick and easy to make. I have sold 1 for £300 made out of oak and mahogany

ibwebb (author)2015-02-09

Awesome! Brilliant! I love it. I think your instructable is what so many use to be, but now they seem to want you to have so many 'specialized' equipment's. Wielders, band saws, routers, 3d printers, etc. Yes, I know most have a router anymore, but it use to be about making things with the basics and your intructable is so much in that spirit and offers the functionality of being able to be used for so many things. I applaud you and hope that you continue in this spirit! To many times I look at one that I think can be helpful only to find out I need some overly priced peice of equipment that I cannot afford or do not have room for... past that your instructable is informative, knowledgeable, and written superbly imho! Thank you!

jclimpson (author)ibwebb2015-02-10

Thank you for your very kind comment. More projects in the same spirit on the way!

MehdiM4 (author)2015-02-10

hi , how about screw , may you explain more about . tanx

jclimpson (author)MehdiM42015-02-10

I didn't use any screws, although I suppose you could. There are simply a couple of nails through the undersides where able, and glue elsewhere.

sWillyPs (author)2015-02-08

Nice, I think this will make a great box for router bits. Just drill some holes 3/4 way through the box bottoms.

Namisuke (author)2015-02-08

Fantastic! Adding to my favourites ^_^

cdstudioNH (author)2015-02-08

Wonderful! Perfect, just the way it is!! Will your wife be making any 'ibles of any her sewing projects? ; ) I hope so!!

lgarzon1 (author)2015-02-08

I like this!

shazni (author)2015-02-06

Thanks! I'm looking for beginner projects and this is perfect!

Jackylee (author)2015-02-06

Nice !

Kalambres (author)2015-02-04

I'm thinking of making one of this on big scale... Like to put my clothes in. What do you think?

Dragon_Friend (author)Kalambres2015-02-05

That sounds like a good idea, will have to test at some point in the near future.
Thanks for the idea.

RandyPerson (author)2015-02-05

You spoke of drilling starter holes "if you have a drill small enough." For small diameter brads and nails, up to at least 4-penney, just clip off the head, chuck It in a drill, and drill away. If your nail is pretty short, and the drill chuck eats a lot of it, drill through both pieces so you at least make a mark on the second, then continue from there. It compresses the wood fibers, so the resulting hole is a snug fit for the nail shaft, but the wood won't split. If you're using glue, it's OK to drill full length. If you need the nail to really hold, you'll have to judge how much to start the hole on the second piece, where it really needs to grab. Best of all, these "drill bits" are not prone to breakage like tiny bits, and the cost is negligible.

jclimpson (author)RandyPerson2015-02-05

That's a great tip! Thanks!

Kafukai (author)2015-02-05

This is so cool!

I bought something similar last year(out of aluminum), I never thought of making out of wood :-)

jclimpson (author)2015-02-04

Kalambres, if you were going to make this any bigger, weight would become a very important consideration. You'd want it to be as light as possible, but also the support arms would have to be strong and securely anchored. You'd also have to ensure the angle of the support arms enabled you to open the drawers wide enough to get access.

adamwatters (author)2015-02-04

looks great! nice work

jmyers1 (author)2015-02-04

This is so great! I'd be willing to pay fair money for something this well put together.

sixsmith (author)2015-02-04

I like it.

I think you might consider adding this to a contest or two, I think it would fit well in the "small spaces" contest, and it looks like it's very budget friendly so maybe the "on a budget" contest as well.

jclimpson (author)2015-02-04

Thank you both for your kind comments.

tomatoskins (author)2015-02-04

Beautiful! And just like JorritJ mentioned, if you put a latch on the top you can probably add a handle.You wouldn't need to carry it with both hands all the time. It also looks like you are new to instructables. Welcome! If you ever need anything feel free to ask anyone in the community, we are all here to help!

JorritJ (author)2015-02-03

This looks great! You might want to add a lock or hook at the top to prevent that it accidentally opens.
Great project!

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