A Novel Way to Set a Box Lid

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Introduction: A Novel Way to Set a Box Lid

About: If its practical, I have no use for it!

So you are making a box and you are looking for a way to fit and register a lid to your box. There are several traditional approaches, among them a rabbet in the lid, a slide-in lid, a hinged lid, or liners fitted inside the box. I will show you a novel way to make a lid register in position and stay on your box.

I have not seen this done before. If you have, please let me know in the comments.

For another approach to setting a box lid check out my Instructable here:

https://www.instructables.com/Suspended-Box-Lid/

Short video:

Supplies

Wooden box

Wooden board for lid

Hardwood strip

Wood glue

Table Saw

Chisel or Card Scraper

Step 1: Preparations

Make a wooden box to your preferred dimensions and make sure the top is flat. To make a lid prepare a board that is slightly larger than the box. There are many Instructables and videos on how to make a box, so I won't get into that. You can even buy wooden boxes at a hobby store. The board for the lid needs to be slightly larger than the box.

Step 2: Notch the Box

First you cut four notches at an angle across the top of the box as shown in the pictures. I use a table saw and miter gauge set to 15 degrees. Cut the notches to about 1/4” (6mm) deep by 1/4” (6mm) wide. Adjust the miter gauge to -15 degrees and cut the second set of notches. Because of the angle the two notches will be spaced farther apart on one side, and closer on the opposite side. You may also cut the slots through three sides as shown in the curly oak box in the intro. Angles between 10 and 30 degrees should work well. Other arrangements, like a cross are also possible.

Step 3: Cut Wooden Strips to Fit the Notches

Cut two narrow strips of wood to fit snugly into the notches. Use a contrasting wood as an accent to your box. The strips should stand proud of the box walls when inserted into the notches. This is important for the next step!

Step 4: Glue the Strips to the Lid

Insert the wood strips into the notches across the box. Put some wood glue on the top of the wood strips - top only! Then align the lid with the box and lay down onto the strips. A weight or clamps will hold the lid in place while the glue dries. Just be sure you don’t glue the strips to the box! Extra tip: I used a small amount of paste wax to coat the notches. Glue will not stick to it, and it can be removed with mineral spirits later on.

Step 5: Trimming

After the glue dries remove the lid and trim the depth of the strips so that the lid lays flat on the box when inserted into the notches. I used a chisel and card scraper to slowly adjust the depth.

Put the lid on the box, it should fit snugly. Turn the box/lid upside down and mark the outline of the box on the lid. Finally trim all sides of the lid flush with the box using a saw, hand plane, or bench top sander. 


Step 6: Finish

You now have a keyed lid that inserts only one way and stays in place because of the angled strips.

Most unusual! People react confused / impressed when they try to figure out the lid.

Glue a handle to the lid if you wish.

Step 7: Some More Options

Here are some other arrangements.

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    24 Comments

    0
    VickieL3
    VickieL3

    15 days ago on Step 7

    Wonderful idea! I must try this out on my next box project. Thanks for the detailed tutorial.

    0
    rschoenm
    rschoenm

    Reply 15 days ago

    Thanks!

    0
    musingvitality
    musingvitality

    15 days ago on Step 6

    Genius , I love the nontraditional solution to a common problem! Thanks for posting

    0
    rschoenm
    rschoenm

    Reply 15 days ago

    Thanks!

    0
    charlessenf-gm
    charlessenf-gm

    24 days ago

    If the contrasting wood strips stand really proud of the box - say as proud as the lid material is thick . . . then you might construct the lid out of three sections of contrasting material and form the interlocking strips so that they only extended below the lid sufficiently to engage the grooves in the box and were otherwise flush with the inside surface of the lid. Only, of course, if you've got the time on your hands.

    0
    rschoenm
    rschoenm

    Reply 24 days ago

    Thanks for the suggestion. Endless opportunities, if I only had time ...
    My problem is that I always tend to move on to the next project :-)

    0
    JohnW51
    JohnW51

    26 days ago on Introduction

    Very nice! I love this idea. I've seen other similar designs, but they didn't show any details on how to do it. Thanks for showing that. :-)

    0
    rschoenm
    rschoenm

    Reply 26 days ago

    You are welcome!

    0
    bpark1000
    bpark1000

    Tip 27 days ago

    Cut the strips a little UNDER in height, ONCE. Insert shims in slots to make the strips sit proud for gluing. Remove shims, no need to trim again! (They are hard to trim once glued to the box lid).

    One disadvantage is that the strips encroach upon the internal volume of the box. Short pieces of strips could be used instead.

    0
    rschoenm
    rschoenm

    Reply 26 days ago

    Thanks for your suggestions!

    0
    OffshootCreations
    OffshootCreations

    27 days ago on Step 7

    This is an amazing approach, so thank you for taking the time to post an article about it. I have been working on a bird feeder with an unusual design and was looking for a good way to attach a removable lid (without resorting to hooks, latches or hinges), and this one fits perfectly (although I think my lid runners will likely be dove-tailed to keep the lid "locked"). Will link to your article with credits as soon as it's done!

    0
    rschoenm
    rschoenm

    Reply 27 days ago

    Thanks! Please let us know how your bird feeder lid works out!

    0
    OffshootCreations
    OffshootCreations

    Reply 27 days ago

    Definitely will. Have a good day.

    0
    rschoenm
    rschoenm

    Reply 27 days ago

    Looking forward to it!

    0
    Grunior
    Grunior

    27 days ago

    A great design concept that could be used in many other ways. One suggestion though is that a lot of work could be saved by cutting the strips to the correct depth before gluing. The trick is to put temporary short spacers about half the depth of the slots in to each slot to elevate the strips before gluing. The 2 strips and 1/2 depth spacers could be ripped from 1 prepared piece that is about 3 depths wide to account for 2 rip kerf widths.

    0
    rschoenm
    rschoenm

    Reply 27 days ago

    Thanks! That would work and may save some time. Let me know if you try that approach.

    0
    srsabu
    srsabu

    Question 27 days ago

    That looks really neat! The one question that comes to mind is if you have had any issues with the lids binding if the humidity goes up?

    0
    rschoenm
    rschoenm

    Answer 27 days ago

    Thanks. This hasn't been a problem for us as we live in a very dry climate. If it becomes a problem you can always do some careful (minor) trimming/sanding where it binds.

    0
    PaulS391
    PaulS391

    27 days ago

    I love it! I am wondering if I cut dovetail slots diagonally across the box if it would open diagonally (see "impossible wood joints")

    0
    rschoenm
    rschoenm

    Reply 27 days ago

    Thanks, I think that would work. Let us know if you make it!