Introduction: How to Make a Sliding Tray Box With Hidden Compartment

About: I am a full-time online content creator, designing, creating and teaching the art of woodworking. I have an art background that I incorporate into my projects and focus on originality and design.

This box has mitered corner joinery that can easily be made on the tablesaw and reinforced with splines. The inside has a top sliding tray that moves to reveal a lower tray. When all the trays are lifted out, a secret hidden compartment is revealed to hide your valuables. All these trays are lined with a soft flocking and I'm using solid brass quadrant hinges from Brusso Hardware.

Step 1: Resawing

I start off by resawing all the wood down to rough thickness on the bandsaw. If you want to learn more about how I resaw, check out my video "Resawing without gadgets." The Bocote I got was nearly 2 inches thick and I can easily get two 5/8" thick boards out of it. And the 3/4" Zebrawood will be resawn into two 1/4" boards for the lid and bottom.

Step 2: Planing

I'll then plane everything down to final thickness on the thickness planer.

Step 3: Crosscutting and Ripping

Next I'll crosscut the four sides to length and then rip to width on the tablesaw. For the Zebrawood used on lid and bottom, I'll roughcut to size and then cut to an exact fit in a later step.

Step 4: Mitered Corners

I'll then set my tablesaw blade to 45 degrees and miter the ends. I'll sneak up on the cut carefully until the mitered edge creates a point without shortening the length of the board.

Step 5: Mitered Lid

The lid will be made up like a picture frame so I'll start out by ripping to width. Then using my picture framing sled, I'll miter the corners and cut to length. You can learn more about this miter sled and how to make it in this miter sled video tutorial here.

Step 6: Cutting Lid Grooves

Now I'll cut a groove in the 4 lid pieces to accept the 1/4" Zebrawood panel. I'll run a pass over the blade and then flip the board around and run another pass. This will center the groove. I'll then move my fence out slightly and repeat until my panel fits.

Step 7: Cutting Bottom Panel Groove

Then I'll cut a groove in the 4 side pieces to hold the bottom panel. I'll make a pass on all 4 pieces and then bump my fence over and make another pass. Again, I'll do this until I get a nice fit.

Step 8: Cutting Top and Bottom Panels

Next I'll cut the top and bottom panels to fit. There should be some wiggle room across the width so the panel can expand and contract though the seasons.

Step 9: Glue Up Box

Gluing up the mitered box is pretty easy and you don't need clamps. Painters tape will do the trick. I'll also apply some painters tape along the inside so any glue squeeze out ends up on the tape and not on the wood.

Step 10: Glue Up Lid

I'll then repeat the process for the lid, again using only painters tape.

Step 11: Cutting Spline Grooves

Once the glue dries I'll then cut a groove in the corners for the ebony splines. This will add plenty of strength to the mitered corners as glue alone will not last since there is no long grain to long grain contact.

Step 12: Cutting Out Splines

Now I'll bandsaw some ebony to the thickness of my table saw blade and then cut them into triangles.

Step 13: Gluing in Splines

Then it's just a matter of adding some glue and popping them into place. Once the glue dries you can sand them off or use a flush trim saw to remove the excess.

Step 14: Glue Up Trays

The trays are made up of 3/16" pieces of zebrawood butt jointed together.

Step 15: Flocking

For an added effect I'll flock the insides of the trays giving them a velvet-like feel. If you want to learn more about flocking check out my how to add flocking to boxes video here.

Step 16: Route Chamfer

Here at the router table I'm adding a 45 degrees chamfer to give the box a nice shadow line along the bottom and a place to put your fingers when opening the lid.

Step 17: Box Finishing

Now it's time to do some final sanding and adding a finish. I'm using a tri-blend mix of boiled linseed oil, polyurethane and mineral spirits. I go into deal in this video: how to mix and apply an oil/poly blend.

Step 18: Hinge Mortising

A box like this deserves some nice hinges so I got these Brusso solid brass quadrant hinges from Rockler. If you've ever tried to install hinges like this then you know how stressful it can be to cut the mortises to the exact size while having everything line up properly. So to make this task much easier I'll be using the Jit It hinge mortising system from Rockler. You can get different inserts that are made for the particular type of hinge you are using. With a plunge router, straight bit and guide bushing you'll get perfect mortises every time with this system.

Step 19: Installing Hinges

All that's left is to install the hinges.

Step 20: That It!

And that's it! Enjoy your new box with a secret compartment. Lots more woodworking tutorials on my website.