Introduction: The Easiest Way to Build a Box!

Picture of The Easiest Way to Build a Box!

If you want to make a box that looks like a professional craftsman hand made it, but don't want to spend hours measuring and hand fitting, just follow these instructions and you'll not only impress your friends, you'll even impress yourself!

All of us have made boxes of one type or another. We've had boxes turn out out of square, twisted to where they rock back and forth when put on a table. The lid might not match quite right or might not close tight.

My goal here is to show you how to eliminate these problems and make a box that looks professional built with less effort than any other method.

I like to have the finished box look like I'm an accomplished woodworker and this method works every time. I have put a home drink coasters in one of these boxes and the box was considered the best part of the gift!

The corners are mitered at 45 deg, the top and bottom are fitted in slots which forces the box to be square and the corners match perfectly, every time! With the box built as one complete assembly and the lid cut off guarantees a great fitting lid.

The box I'm building here is a specific size and shape. Feel free to modify the size to fit your needs. I've made boxes this way using various hardwoods and the results are exceptional! I'd recommend using walnut or oak if you want an outstanding box!

This is by far the easiest and most accurate way I've found make a box.

Step 1: Everything You Need to Make This Box.

Picture of Everything You Need to Make This Box.


2.5cm x 10cm (1"x4") pine board about 1 meter (3 feet) long.

30cm x 15cm (12"x6") piece of 3mm(1/8") plywood.

2 hinges with screws

1 latch


table saw

painters tape

tape measure

wood glue


Step 2: Cut Material to Size

Picture of Cut Material to Size
  1. Set the table saw blade to 45 deg and cut 2 pieces of the pine board 23 cm 9" long and 2 more 17cm (6.75") long.
  2. Return the table saw blade to 90 deg and cut 2 identical pieces of the 3mm (1/8") plywood to 12cm x 20cm (5.75" x 8").
  3. Set the blade for a height of 6mm (1/4") with the fence 3mm (1/8") from the blade.
  4. Cut a slot on the inside the both ends of all 4 pieces of the box sides, as pictured.

Step 3: Assemble the Box to Test the Fit

Picture of Assemble the Box to Test the Fit
  1. Slide the top and bottom into the slots on one of the sides.
  2. Add the remaining 3 sides.
  3. If the corners do not completely close you will need to trim a little off the plywood until your happy with the fit.

Step 4: Glue the Box Together

Picture of Glue the Box Together
  1. Lay out the sides and ends on a flat surface with a straight edge. The table saw and fence work great!
  2. Make sure you have alternated the pieces. There must be a short piece 17cm (6.75") then a long one 23cm (9") then a short one, last a long one.
  3. Apply 2 pieces of painters tape, start near the center of the first piece and extending beyond the last piece. I prefer painters tape over masking tape because glue will not stick to the painters tape but will stick to some types of masking tape.
  4. Turn the pieces over and add glue to the 45 deg cuts. I used my finger to spread the glue to cover the full surface.
  5. Put the plywood in the slots of one of the sides, then fold up the other 3 sides. It is not necessary to glue the plywood into the slots, there will be enough glue squeezed into the slots at the corners to keep it tight. If you choose to put glue in the slots, use only a small amount, you do NOT want glue squeezing out, it makes it tough to get a good stain on the wood without a lot of sanding and it's tough to get all the glue off.
  6. Pull the final corner closed and tape it tight.
  7. Let dry for a at least an hour. I always leave it over night.

Step 5: Cut Off the Lid

Picture of Cut Off the Lid
  1. Sand the box now. Round over the edges.
  2. Set the fence to cut off 2.5cm (1").
  3. Have the blade deep enough to cut thru the sides 2.5cm (1").
  4. Cut all 4 sides. Now you have a box with a perfect fitting lid!

Step 6: Attach Hinges

Picture of Attach Hinges
  1. Depending on the type of hinges you get, pay attention to the location of them, if they are not even and aligned they could bind.
  2. I like to fold the hinge as shown, that way the pin of both hinges will align correctly. Attach both hinges to the box.
  3. Clamp the lid to the box and screw the hinges to the top.
  4. Now it's time to stain or paint the box and you're done!
  5. Have fun building!


chris.decke (author)2016-12-08

Would it not be easier and safer to cut the rebate first before cutting the 45 angle, and when separating/cutting the lid if you put the hinges on after the first cut would you not have a more even and square lid, this would also help if you don't have clamps would it not.

retired Ron (author)2016-08-08

Beautiful cabinet! great work. Is it a gift?

cerberus456 made it! (author)2016-08-02

thank you very much for the information, you can make this project a jewelry box.

greetings from mexico veracruz xalapa

Grunambulax made it! (author)2016-05-13

Made as a gift for our Marathon Pacegroup leader. Red Oak, red mahogany stain, tung oil, satin polyruethane. Minion magnet soft-glued (removeable) on top. Contains notes from members of the group inside.

retired Ron (author)Grunambulax2016-05-13

Looks really nice. Great job!

Fezder (author)2016-04-24

This is handy way indeed, buddy showed this method way back. Do you add any reinforcement for miter joints?

oakleygear (author)2016-04-23

I've been doing it the hard way for sure.

WillVector (author)2016-04-14

Fine box, easy method. Thanx. Now, is that a '66 GT 350 and can I make one of those on my table saw?

retired Ron (author)WillVector2016-04-14


No it's not a 66. It's a 65 clone of a GT350. Significant modifications, runs the 1/4 mile in the 11 sec range, fun to drive around town knowing it's nothing too special.

schou2 (author)2016-04-10

i assume when someone can use a table saw they should be able to measure and cut, but this is a good trick to make top and bottom aline

wb8nbs (author)schou22016-04-12

When you are making a mitered corner box like this it is just as important to have the sides equal length as it is to have exact 45 degree angles. Don't Ask Me How I Know This.

e5frog (author)2016-04-10

The idea kind of died already at the second step - when I apparently need some huge expensive machine to cut the wood... Cheaper to let a professional make it then.
How about a miter box and a saw instead?

sgsax (author)e5frog2016-04-11

If you already have a router, a slot cutter bit works just as well. If you don't have a table to mount it on, you'll need to do a bit of creative jigging, but it's doable.

wb8nbs (author)sgsax2016-04-12

Lee Valley has a special router bit for cutting box top slots. I have one it works really slick.

WB333 (author)e5frog2016-04-11


Then you will need a router to produce the rabbet to insert the top and bottom and be very accurate when hand sawing the lid off......

LawrenceB15 (author)e5frog2016-04-10

It doesn't really have to be that expensive. I found a used Sears table saw last year for $35 at a local auction.

_soapy_ (author)e5frog2016-04-10

I partly agree. Ah well!

You can't do this with a mitre saw or by hand either, because you can't put the slot for the lids into the board.

However, if you bought a bit of pre-grooved wood then you could. Might be worth looking around at the various bits in the architrave section at the DIY store.

e5frog (author)_soapy_2016-04-10

Well, you can cut it, the slots need to be made with another tool I guess, unless it's simply mounted on top and bottom - which may not matter that much of you paint it afterwards. ;-)
Nice anyway.

wb8nbs (author)2016-04-12

Boxes made with similar method, only hand tools used.

Beekeeper (author)2016-04-10

I have made many boxes by this method and they are always very satisfactory, but as mentioned by wb8nbs glueing end grain, especially pine or spruce, makes a weak joint. One tip I should like to suggest is that when cutting off the lid, after the first side has been cut, put something stiff across the cut and stick it in place with masking tape. Do the same with subsequent cuts on the other sides/ends. This is to prevent the cut closing up and resulting in a deeper cut on the last side - as can be seen on the last photo on step 5.

retired Ron (author)Beekeeper2016-04-10

That's a good suggestion to put a spacer in the cut lines. I've done that with larger boxes or ones with a more decorative wood. I'll often add splines to the corners for strength. On this small and light of a box, the glue that squeezes onto the plywood in the slots seems to help strengthen the corners. I've added a little glue into the slots sometimes for that reason. I wouldn't do that with a larger box due to the expansion of the wood, but for small boxes I haven't had any issues.

I've never had a corner come apart using this method, I'm not saying the glue joint will never fail, but short of dropping the box I don't think this size box needs any reinforcing.

wb8nbs (author)retired Ron2016-04-12

It will help to apply the glue twice. Let the first coat soak in ten minutes, then second coat and assemble.

wb8nbs (author)Beekeeper2016-04-12

I just stuff a ruler in the kerf, but I cut the lid off with a dovetail saw.

Leonardned (author)Beekeeper2016-04-10

Reply to Beekeeper: Actually if you just turned the box around so that the bottom was against the fence I don't yhink it would be a problem.

Beekeeper (author)Leonardned2016-04-10

Yes Leonard, I agree, turning the box around so the bottom is against the fence is certainly better. With the lid against the fence you are pushing on the larger piece and that tends to squeeze the saw cut closed. Some woods have a bit of stress in them and close up the cut so a spacer or similar is a small insurance policy.

WB333 (author)Beekeeper2016-04-11


Very proper use of a table saw fence observation..... by an obvious skilled table saw mechanic.

I MP (author)2016-04-11

You can cut the grooves with a router plane and do all the other steps with hand tools. Carpenters make job boxes this way, build a cube then create a lid by sawing off a potion of the top.

pbesong (author)2016-04-10

great tutorial. the only thing i would suggest is to probably cut the slot prior to cutting the pieces out of the wood. that way it's one straight shot thru the blade, not 4 separate cuts on smaller pieces.

VajkF (author)pbesong2016-04-11

For a novice, it is difficult to handle the long board on the saw. Pushing the small pieces one by one is much simpler.

WB333 (author)VajkF2016-04-11


Not necessary true ....handling short pieces on a table saw can be much more of a hazard (cross bindinding with the blade and fence) then one longer pass..... especially if there is proper support on the run out end of the table

WB333 (author)pbesong2016-04-11


Most correct observation ................

pbesong (author)pbesong2016-04-11

that could be, depending on the person.

retired Ron (author)pbesong2016-04-11

If you do that you need to make twice as many mitre cuts and the smaller boards are easier to to handle. Like VajfK said. If the box is made out of a wood that you want the grain to wrap around, then I'd make the slot first like you suggested.

WB333 (author)2016-04-11


Easiest if you have a table saw...................

VendicarD (author)2016-04-10

I don't understand. Where does the Arduino and the blinking lights go?

jeffdodd (author)2016-04-10


DDW_OR (author)2016-04-10

the only thing i would add to the joints is biscuits. put them in the box area, not the lid area.


retired Ron (author)DDW_OR2016-04-10

That would help, but this is too small of a box for the biscuits I have.

Syncubus (author)DDW_OR2016-04-10

Biscuits, splines, dowels, keys, dovetailed keys - anything to bridge that weak end-grain miter-joint to strengthen it.

rkrishnan7 (author)2016-04-10

Your instructions are clear and the pictures are very helpful. The success of most woodworking depends crucially on the consistent accuracy of the cutting tools, in this case the table saw. Most cheap ones don't cut it (pun intended); You may want to mention that with the higher quality saws, making a box is trivially easy.

wb8nbs (author)2016-04-10

You can of course do this with a miter box. The height of your box will be limited by the height of the miter box and you need a plow plane or a narrow chisel to cut the grooves.
Gluing wood end grain to end grain as described here is somewhat weak. Roy Underhill created a similar box reinforced with splines on The Woodwright's Shop in 2011 ( My web pages on following Roy's design begins at

JoeO10 (author)2016-04-10

Im doing this!!

amwill (author)2016-04-06

this is an absolute ace way of making a box....I love it...well

amwill (author)2016-04-06

this is an absolute ace way of making a box....I love it...well

amwill (author)2016-04-06

this is an absolute ace way of making a box....I love it...well

Timotheo (author)2016-04-06

Thank you.

MelissaB158 (author)2016-04-05

Perfect box every time! Even I could do it!

seamster (author)2016-04-04

This is a fine looking box, and so simple to make. Excellent work!!

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