Introduction: Making Vintage Style Storage Boxes W/ Splines

About: Hi I'm Linn and on my Youtube Channel I have lots of great videos about building, construction and fun projects. You can also check out my site @

I wanted to build a couple of really nice looking boxes that I could use for organizing and storing some art supplies. For the boxes I decided to use cedar wood, as well as maple for splices. I also used some card holders and they turned out just great. Let's see how I built them.

Step 1: Cutting the Wood

So I started out with measuring the length of my shelves and they measure 17 inches. I'd like to be able to put two boxes on shelf, so I figured 7 1/2 inches would be a good length for each box.

For wood, I decided to use some cedar I had around, so I re-sawed it on the table saw in batches to get thinner


Once my pieces were cut I ran them through the planer a couple of times.

Now to cut the wood up I set up a stock block on my miter saw and I cut a bunch of mitered pieces. Once I was done with one cut, I changed the stop block to get the second size done.

Step 2: Gluing the Boxes

I want the bottoms to sit inside a rabbet in the boxes so I'm using the router table here to make a groove the thickness of the wood which is about 1/4 of an inch.

Time to glue the boxes together. I'm using some masking tape here to secure the sides together, then flip around, put down some glue, and fold the box together. This technique works really well with mitered corners which can be a little tricky to get right. Then just checking for square and repeating with the remaining two boxes.

Step 3: Splines

Now, I'm going to use a spline jig here to add some splines, I added eight splines on each box. I set the jig up with a 1/4 inch bit.

For the splines I'm cutting up a piece of maple for strips. So putting one in, measuring and then cutting up a bunch of small pieces. Then gluing them in. Some were just a touch too thick, so I'm sanding them down so they go in a little easier.

For the splines here I was first planning on using walnut, but then I was thinking and cedar darkens quite a bit over time and as you finish it, so I decided to go lighter instead with some maple.

For the bottoms I'm gluing the end grain, to account for wood movement over time, and then just adding a couple of tack nails.

Once the glue had dried I used the Japanese saw to cut the splines off, and the trick is to try to not cut too closely, but give yourself a little room to sand down instead so you don't scratch the wood.

Step 4: Sanding & Finishing

Then I sanded the boxes. And here you can also see I glued on a couple of maple pieces for feet as well to match the splines.

Now to finish the boxes I decided to go with shellac. I think shellac is a little under utilized. It's a natural finish, it dries really quickly, and it always comes out nice.

Once that had dried, I applied some wax polish with steel wool to completely smoothen out the surface and add a soft finish. And then buffing it out.

For a finishing touch I'm adding some label holders, and just measuring out the center here. Then pre-drilling lightly and screwing in. And that looks really nice.

Now it's just a matter of bringing them in and filling them up.

Step 5: Conclusion - Watch the Video

For a much better perspective, make sure to watch the video.