How to use a CNC Router to build a simple 6 board chest out of a 2* 4 foot quarter sheet of ½ inch Birch plywood. I did it at Techshop!

This is my first Instructable so please feel free to leave any constructive criticism in the comments, thanks!

What is Techshop? follow this link!

These chests are useful as small toy boxes or other storage, they are the perfect size to sit upon, and plenty strong.  I use them for storage when camping at medieval events in a History reenactment lite group i am in called the SCA. These boxes are good for almost all periods of historical reenactment because their simplicity kept them in use for a very long time. Because you can sit on them they make excellent feast boxes

Because they are nailed and glues they are plenty strong to use to sit on as well.

You may use these plans and modify them for any non commercial use. you can't use them to make products for sale without my prior written approval.

What you need:

Membership at TechShop or access to equivalent tools, and basic knowledge of how to use them.
Cnc Router(Shop Bot)
Nail Gun with Plastic nails (or other holding device for CNC Router)
Nail Gun with Regular nails (for assembly)
Wood Glue
400 Grit sand paper (and some way to use it, I used a Random Orbital Sander)
Pre stain wood conditioner(photo)
Wood stain (photo)
Spar Varnish (photo)
1 or more 2’ by 4” sheets of .5” (1/2”) Birch plywood.
Razor Knife for cutting off the tabs on the wood after cutting

Why do you keep specifying Birch Plywood?
I specify birch plywood because the added veneers make a nominal half inch thick sheet, actually a half inch thick, unlike other Plywood.  The Illustrator file I Provided is designed to work with any material exactly a half inch thick, experiment as you desire.

If the quarter sheet you pick is significantly smaller than nominal (2'*4') you might have issues,  I believe the pattern has 1/8" of slack along the edges farthest away from 0,0 on the router.

If you don't have a router  you can look at the plans and copy the dimensions and cut one out by hand. I made quite a few of boxes similar to these using a saw and a router instead of the CNC tools at Techshop.

My goal in this is to make these boxes available easily and cheaply to lots of folks.

A quarter sheet of .5in birch plywood costs me about $14, the hardware can cost as much or little as you want, you can skip the latch, and just nail small pieces of scrap leather on for hinges, use scrap rope for the handles, use stain you have around and this box could only cost you for lumber... buying hinges and claps will easily double the cost, but it looks so much nicer.

Step 1: Step 1: CAD and CAM

Step 1: CAD and CAM

This Instructable assumes you already know how to do basic CAD and CAM, at Techshop if you passed the SBU class, you are probably good to go. This is the second project I did on the shop bot at Techshop.

First download the Illustrator file with this link:


Get in V-Carve or other CAM software and load this file

I'm going to assume that you know how to use V-Carve, and just explain what you'll be doing in V-carve, not how.

All of the pictures show what the illustrator file will look like:

Set up 3 passes in V-Carve using a .25" bit for cutting wood.

Pass 1: Drilling pass

Select all the ¼” holes, drill them .125” (1/8”) deep.
These will mark where you put nails for hold downs, and where you put nails for assembly. You will pause after this pass is complete and add plastic nails for hold down if you don’t’ have a better system.

Pass 2: Pocket Pass:

Pick the 2 large holes in each of the side pieces, Pocket them out to a depth of .5” (1/2”)
These will be where you put in your Rope Handles.

Pass 3: Profile Pass:

Pick all the rest of the geometry, which should be the outlines of the boxes. Cut this Full Depth  .5” (1/2”). Be sure to add plenty of tabs, including tabs of both sides of the material where the router cuts away all wood between the two pieces. See the2nd  image below for an example of how I added the tabs. You'll notice that I added WAY too many tabs compared to what is recommended. This is because I kept having issue with pieces shifting as they got cut out, due to how little waste wood I have in the design. I used the default 3d tables V-carve recommended

Note the 2nd picture below with an example of how I laid out my tabs to prevent movement of the piece. it's a lot more than normal because I kept having issues with it slipping.

Now save/export the passes for your CNC Router to create the CNC g-code file.
Very cool! This came out looking beautiful!!
Awesome! I love the celtic design you have in some of the pictures :)

About This Instructable




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