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:

Short video:


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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