Introduction: Faux Book Wood Lidded Box

About: I'm a 4rth generation carpenter, born in Texas and raised between Texas and Kentucky. I started at age 9 age helping my father with decks and room additions. By 13, I was doing decks and framing on my own,and …

This project is for novice to intermediate level woodworkers. In this tutorial, you will learn how to make a simple trinket / stash box that looks like a book. The concept can be manipulated using different woodworking techniques to create a variety of "stacked books" storage units.

For this project you will need:


  • 2 pieces solid wood of choice 9 1/2" x 6 3/8" x 3/8"
  • 1 piece solid wood of choice ( must be the same species as the other 9 1/2" ) 9 1/2" x 2 3/4" x 3/8"
  • 3 pieces solid wood of choice 1/8" x 1/4" x 3" ( different species as the 9 1/2" )
  • 4 pieces 1/2" Baltic Birch Plywood ( 9 layer ) 3 1/4" x 10"
  • 2 1" x 3/4" jewelry box hinges


  • Strong wood glue ( non foaming)
  • Blue painter tape
  • clamps ( spring clamps w/ 2 1/2" jaws & 4 12" rail clamps )
  • Tablesaw w/ miter gauge
  • 10" surface planer
  • Mitersaw
  • Trim router w/ 3/16" roundover, flushcut w/ bearing, & 1/2" cove bit
  • Router table or slide fence for router
  • utility or razor knife
  • Sanding block w/ 100 grit sandpaper
  • Orbital sander w/ 100 grit and 150 grit paper
  • 1 sheet 220 grit paper (hand sanding)
  • Finish of your choice.

Step 1: Picking the Wood for the Cover and Spine Inlay.

This part is all up to you. Pick a wood for the cover, light or dark. Then choose a contrasting wood to accent for the spine inlays. Light wood - dark inlay, dark wood - light inlay. For this instructable, I chose a black walnut for the cover and yellow ash for the inlay. For the cover, find a plank 3 times (minimum) the length of the book and as consistent as possible in color. The book we're making is 9 1/2" tall when standing upright.

9 1/2" x 3 = 28 1/2" so we need a plank with a minimum of 29". Try not to exceed 6 - 7" in width. Wider than this may result in "cupping"

Step 2: Preparing the "Pages" of the Book

Using the 1/2" Baltic Birch plywood, cut 4 pieces 3 1/4" x 10". Glue the 4 pieces together, face to face, to create a block 2" x 3 1/4" x 10". Make sure to fully cover each layer with glue. Use a spreader or a stick to get total coverage ( 100% ). Clamp the 4 layers together with as many clamps that you can fit around the block. This layer lamination is crucial.
Align the layers as best as you can. The piece will be oversized a small amount so perfect alignment isn't critical. After gluing and clamping, set the piece aside to dry for 24hrs. While drying, let's prepare the wood for the cover.

Step 3: Surfacing and Sizing the "Cover" Wood

What ever size you want to make your book, you'll need a plank of wood an inch or so longer than 3 times the height of the book. For this book, being 9 1/2" tall, your plank needs to be around 30" long and 6 1/2 -7" wide. The thickness should be 3/8" minimum. It can be planed and sanded, but 3/8" is as thin as it should be to prevent distortion.

On a table saw, clean and size the 2 long edges to 6 3/8". Using the miter gauge, trim a 1/2" to remove any splits and to square it up. Now cut 2 pieces 9 1/2"x 6 3/8" and 1 piece to 9 1/2" x 3". You now have a front and back cover and a spine.

Now take your accent wood and rip a strip 9" x 1/8" x 1/4". Be careful making this piece because cutting small pieces on a table saw will cause vibrations and possibly cause splintering. The easiest way is to partially cut into a larger piece and then make a second cut to remove the drop piece.

Step 4: Inlaying the Spine Bands

Some people see the word inlay and immediately get intimidated. This will be the easiest inlay you will ever do. Let's get started. You will need the piece you have already cut for the spine, the 9 1/2" x 3/8"x 3". On your table saw, set the blade height to an 1/8" light. This will allow the inlay material to be proud of the surface, just enough to be sanded flush. Now set the table saw fence to 3/4", using the miter gauge, make a kerf across the 3" face on both ends of the 9 1/2" length. Move the fence to 1 3/8", using the miter gauge, kerf across 1 end of the 3" face. You should now have 3 kerfs in your spine board. 2 on one end and 1 on the other, all on the same face.

You are now ready for the 9" x 1/8" x 1/4" strip. With a utility knife, cut the finished strip into 3 equal pieces 3" x 1/8" x 1/4". "Dry fit" each piece into a kerf line. Use a block sander to sand the pieces to fit easily, but not loosely. Once all pieces fit well, rub glue on the 3 pieces and press 1 into each kerf. Wipe off any excess glue with a damp cloth. Place the spine with inlays on a flat surface. Now we need to place a flat board, large enough to span all 3 inlays, on top and add some weight. You can use a paint can, a couple of bricks, 12 pack of soda, ie anything to apply pressure for about an hour. While we're waiting for that, let's get back to making the "pages".

Step 5: Milling the Paper

The plywood block, we glued up yesterday, is ready to be removed from the clamps and milled. Using your table saw, set the fence to 3" and raise the blade to about 2 1/4" high. Now "clean" 1 long edge to clear glue and have a flat face to run against the fence.

Set the saw fence to 3/8", while running the clean face against the fence,rip 4 pieces using a push stick. It's best if you have a sharp blade and take it slow. 2 inch thick Baltic Birch is dense. Let the blade do most of the work to get the straightest cut. You should now have 4 planks 3/8" x 10" x 1 15/16" with plywood edge grain on the 1 15/16" face.

The box we will be making will have 2 mitered corner and 2 butt joint corners.You will need to miter 1 piece on both ends to a length of 9" long point to long point. Two of the pieces will need to be 6 1/8" with a miter on one end and a square cut on the other end. The 4th piece needs to be square cut on both ends. You will also need 4 chamfer blocks made from the drop.

Step 6: Gluing the "Page" Box

Take the 3 pieces with miters (1 long double mitered & 2 short single mitered) and lay them flat on your work surface with long points up. Arrange them short - long - short with miter tips "kissing". Now take 2 4" pieces of the 1 1/2" blue tape and stick the 2 miter cut sections together. Rub the tape thoroughly, you don't want the part being able to move. Carefully roll the configuration over so the taped long points are now flat on your work surface.

Apply wood glue to the 4 faces of (now exposed) miter cuts. Now pick up each end of the configuration and "fold" toward the center. Don't exceed the cut of the miter or the tension of the tape. Lay the 3 sided box so that all 3 sides are on edge and the open side faces you. Take the 8 1/4" piece, square on both ends,and apply glue to both ends. Place this part between the square cut ends of the 2 short sides of the taped configuration. Keep edges flush.

Now take 2 10" rail clamps and place across both but joints (1 high, 1 low). Wipe as much glue as you can from the inside corners. We'll let this dry for about 10 minutes. With is partially dry, now remove the rail clamps. Take the 4 chamfer blocks and apply glue to the 2 90 degree faces of each block. Place one in each inside corner, this will help strengthen the corners and hold the box square. Hold each in place with a spring clamp. Let it set for at least an hour before unclamping.

Step 7: Joining the Spine and Back Cover

Ok, now we can take our spine with inlays out of our make-shift press and sand the inlays flush. Start with a sanding block to remove heavy materials. Make sure you sand with the grain of the spine, which will be cross grain to the inlays. The sanding block keeps the surface flat and even. Once the inlays feel flush to the touch, use the orbital w/ 100 grit to remove the cross scratches.

Take the spine to the table saw and "shave" 1 long edge to ensure you have good inlay all the kerf. The other edge is unimportant now because it will be addressed later. For the book to look like its lying on its back cover, the end with 2 inlays should be on the left. My saw fence is to the right of my blade so the end with 2 lead the cut.

Ok, now things will start taking shape. Set up the rail clamps on your work surface and place the spine (clean edge down) and back cover (flat), in the clamps so you have some space, 1/2"or so. Make sure the 2 parts are oriented correctly. The spine should have the inlays facing the clamp jaws with 2 on the left and 1 on the right. The back cover should be outside face down in the clamp. Now take the back cover and apply glue to the long edge that butts the "inside" of the spine. Place the part back in the clamps against the spine and begin tightening clamps starting from the middle. Its easier to control part slippage starting from the center and working out, as opposed to going from 1 end to the other. Place clamps evenly and as close to center of the glue if possible.

Extreme pressure is not necessary for this joint, a "hold" will do. Clean off excess glue, especially from the inside corners. This should set for 2-4 hrs before the next machining is done.

Step 8: Ready the Pages

Time to remove clamps and tape from the "page" box. At this point, you determine the best looking edge face to be visible. The side to be glued to the cover can be block sanded flat to remove splintering and glue. Orbital sand (w/ 150 grit) the 3 mitered faces and the face edge. Flat the butt jointed face with a block sander, try not to oversand or "round" edges or ends. Keep it as 90 degree as possible. This piece is ready for final assembly, but will be used as a spacer for some cover machining first.

Step 9: Cover Fitting

The spine and back cover are ready to come out of the clamps. Place on the edge of your work surface so the inside of the back is on the table and the spine is "hanging" off. Block sand the glue joint flat then orbital sand lightly with 100 grit. Flip the piece over, outside back down, spine up. Place the page box butt joint to the inside corner of spine and back. Now place the front cover on top, good side out. You should have an 1/8" or so of spine sticking past the front cover.

Take the 4 rail clamps and lightly clamp the front and back covers together around the page box. No glue at this time. Stand the piece on the long edge of the front and back cover with the spine facing up. Using the trim router, with the flush cut bit, route off the excess spine material flush with the front cover.

Change the router bit to the 3/16" round over bit. This part is tricky at first but easier than it seems. Reposition the clamps to the spine side and page side. This clears the ends of the book for rounding. Loosen the clamps just enough to slip the page box for bit clearance, then lightly re-tighten the clamps. Now, running the router on the end edges of the cover, you will round the inside edge of the front, spine, and back evenly. Once done, repeat process for opposite end. Remove the clamps and set the page box aside. The inside 2 long edges can be rounded without using the spacer. All outer edges will be round upon final assembly.

Step 10: Gluing Page Box to Cover

We are ready to mount the page box to the back and spine. First, use the razor knife point to scrape the inside corner of the cover joint to remove any dry glue that may have beaded there. Place on your work surface and pick up the page box and apply glue lightly, but evenly, on the butt jointed face and the bottom face edge. Place the page box inside the cover, with the butted face against the spine and the glued face edge down against the inside back cover.

Use 2 or 3 spring clamps to hold the page box firmly against the spine and a rail clamp on each corner of the page box to the back cover. Make sure the page box is centered before tightening all clamps.

Clean off all excess glue with a damp cloth. The more you get off now, less to scrape and sand off later. We'll let this stay clamped for a few hours before mounting the hinges and front cover.

Step 11: Morticing Hinges

With the page box and cover joined and dried, we can mark and mount hinges and get the front cover on. Place the hinges on the "page edge" side of the book. Measure 1 3/4" from each outside end and make a square mark. Measure over to 2 3/4" and make another mark. You should now have 4 marks across the top edge of the page side. Using the razor knife, score the marks with a square. Cut through a couple of layers first to test the depth. Clear the material deep enough to house the full hinge. The cut should be as deep as the knuckle of the hinge. Clear the layers using the razor knife or a chisel.

Now mark and pre-drill the mounting hole. The screws are small and soft so the hole needs to be the size of the shaft of the screw. This will allow the threads to grab without splitting the wood. Mount the hinges to the box and position the front cover. With a sharp pencil, mark the location of the hinge on the lid. Now remove the screws and hinges from the box. Position the hinges on the lid and mark and pre-drill the mount holes in the lid. Take care not to drill too deep. Also make sure the screws are short enough to not poke through. I sand off my points with a belt sander. With the pre-drilled hole, a "machine" screw works fine.

Step 12: Coving the Cover Hinge and Rounding

Now that the book is together, it's time to detail it. Using the 1/2" cove bit, I prefer in a table router with a fence, we will cove a path on the face of the front and back cover. Set your bit to make a 3/32" deep cut and position the fence 1/2" from the bit center. Now place the book back cover to the router with the spine against the fence. Fence on the right of the cutter, push the part away from you. This keeps the part from "walking" and giving you a crooked hinge. Take it slow so as not to tear out, but not slow enough to burn.

Repeat this process for the front cover side. Then round over all outer cover edges. Time to sand everything and make ready for finish.

Step 13: Finish

Pick a finish of choice. Lacquer, polyurethane, and shellac will all do the trick and come in spray cans. I used tung oil to finish mine, maybe I just like a hand rubbed finish. Really it's up to you. Just remember, "the better you sand, the better your finish".

I hope you enjoy making your own books and experiment with different ways to use the design.

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