I thought I'd see what I could do with a single piece of pallet wood and decided to keep it simple and easy. This kind of box can be done in the space of a day. I have some detailed instructions below as well as a video of the build on YouTube if you'd like to see the box building in action!
Step 1: What You'll Need
For this build you'll need:
- 1 piece of pallet wood.
- A small saw
- A carving knife
- PVA glue
- A hand or power drill with bit
- A few clamps
- A square
- A pencil
- A chisel
- Finish of your choice
- A coping saw
- A file
- A plane
- A dowel plate
Step 2: Cut the Pieces
The length of the sides is entirely down to you and what you'd like to use the box for. I made my long sides 15cm (5 15/16") and my short sides 5.5cm (2 3/16"). The reason the smaller sides are so small is because I wanted the box to fit onto the width of the pallet wood so that I only needed to use one piece for the bottom. This made the build a lot faster.
Use the square to draw a straight line and cut all the pieces, wherever you can try and save the sawdust in a container to use later.
Step 3: Drill the Holes, Make the Dowels and Glue Up
Clamp the four sides together in their final position without gluing and then drill the holes for your dowels. Keep these clamps on until all the holes are drilled; 4 holes on the front side, 4 on the back side and 4 on the bottom. Keeping the clamps on during this stage will improve accuracy and ensure that your dowels are in line when it comes to gluing up.
After drilling take some of the pallet wood and split down the grain with a chisel, from this you can carve down some dowels to the size of the holes. If you have a dowel jig then even better. Set out the box sides so you can see clearly where they go, it's important to mark where each side goes so that the dowels go in smoothly. Glue the sides up and add a little glue to each dowel, lightly tap them into the sides and keep going until you feel as if the dowel and the box are one piece.
When the sides and bottom have been glued and had dowels tapped in you can use the sawdust collected earlier. Find a scrap piece of wood or plastic and squirt a small pile of glue onto the surface, tip the sawdust collected earlier on top and mix with the glue to make a paste. This paste can be used to fill in any little gaps you might have, I had plenty!
Step 4: Cleaning the Box Up
Once it has been drying for 24 hours you can take off the clamps and begin to beautify your box a little. I used a combination of a plane and file to get the sides level and to scrape off the unwanted paste that was added earlier.
Once I had got the bottom level I measured up the side with a square and marked where I wanted the top of the box to finish. I drew this line all around the top of the box and then sawed it off to make the top of the box level.
Step 5: Making the Lid
The next stage is to make the lid. I wanted my lid to kind of lock in place when I placed it on top so I made a little recess around the edges.
Start by making a cross in the centre of the lid, you can then use these lines as a centre point for the inside length and width of the box. I made the recess about 3mm (1/8") deep but you could go deeper if you wished. You need a rather fine saw to cut down the edges for this part, I would suggest a tenon saw or maybe a Japanese ryoba. You can then use a chisel to get right up to the edges and make the finish nice and crisp.
Step 6: Smooth the Edges and Attach Handle
The box is nearing completion and so now you can start to really smooth off those edges. This once again is down to personal preference but I love to see smooth edges so I started by filing down every corner. After this I used 120 grit sandpaper to really get the edges smooth.
Find a nice part of the remaining pallet would and cut out a handle, now this handle could be round like mine or square, cylindrical any type of size or shape you'd like. I used a coping saw to cut out the semi circular handle, filed and sanded it smooth and then attached it with a little glue.
When everything was dry I went over it with 240 grit sandpaper to make it nice and smooth and ready for the finish.
Step 7: Add the Finish and Think About What to Store in It!
I finished the box with Danish oil but you could use any kind of finish you wanted really. I was contemplating using a wood dye to make it a nice dark brown colour before applying finish but decided against it.
It was a very quick and simple build but also enjoyable and nice to know that it was made from a piece of pallet wood that would have otherwise ended up at the dump. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share!
Thanks for joining me!