Introduction: Making a Box

For this instructable, I am teaching the basics of woodworking, as well as how to use basic tools for people that want a basic knowledge of the subject. Before using any of these tools, use the link below for the safety tests. You should score a 100 on each tool before using them because it is a good guideline if you have no prior knowledge of them, and even if you do it is a good refresher. For this project I am going through the process of making a box with mitered edges (cut at an angle, in this case 45 degrees). This project also utilizes Material conversion and processing, a very important STEL context.

I also recommend watching these two videos as a guideline on how to use the saws correctly and safely:



  • Wood (whatever type and length you need)
  • Wood Glue (nails and screws also work but for this tutorial I am using wood glue)
  • Sand Paper
  • A Saw, preferably a miter saw and table saw.
  • Safety Glasses
  • Ruler (or "quick square").

Step 1: Selecting the Right Wood

For this, you want to select wood that works well and is fairly easy to work with. My choice was yellow pine, pictured above. The color of the wood is not too important because you can always stain it later on. If you want your box to be a lighter color, however, you have to start with a lighter color wood; you can stain light wood darker but you can't stain dark wood to a lighter shade.

Step 2: Cutting the Wood

Once you choose the wood, you have to cut it apart. Before cutting, I advise measuring a couple of times to make sure that it is the right length. When in doubt it is usually better to leave a couple of extra millimeters for each piece because you can cut it or sand it down later on in the process. For the cutting process I recommend using a table saw with a guide. This can help to keep your fingers out of harms way and provide a barrier between them and the saw. You also need safety glasses to black debris from getting in your eyes. While cutting, try to cut with the grain when possible to make it easier on you and the saw while also being careful not to push the wood thru with a lot of force. This can lead to the saw being damaged, the wood slipping, or many other hazards that could cause bodily harm. When cutting be sure that the sides line up correctly. For example, if you have a 10x10x10 box, be sure that each side is at least 10 inches to start out. You might need the sides to be longer depending on the type of box. For a box with square sides you might need to cut some sides longer, shorter, or the same length as the top and bottom to fit it properly. This also depends on how you want to assemble it but for the box that I am teaching about you need to make sure that connecting sides are the same length.

Step 3: Trimming the Wood Down to Size

Once again, I recommend measuring multiple times before cutting. For my process, I measured out how long I needed the side to be , marked it with a pencil, and then cut the wood right on the other side of the line. This is a good way to be sure that you have enough wood for what you need, sanding down any extra length of wood afterwards.

Step 4: Organization

One step that isn't necessary but I personally do is laying out the wood and the materials after cutting them to the right size. I organize them based on where they go: sides, top and bottom. Knowing all of the pieces is important, especially if they are supposed to be cut differently or if the box isn't perfectly square. Otherwise you run the risk of cutting one or more of them wrong and making them unable to fit. I also sometimes, in pencil, write what each piece of wood is on the piece. Make sure to do this light enough that you can sand it off, erase it, or stain over it without leaving it visible on the final product.

Step 5: Mitered Edges

For this box, a miter saw comes in handy here. Since you can change the angle of the saw blade it allows you to cut at a 45 degree angle easily. As with any other time using a saw or any woodworking equipment be sure that your fingers are clear of the blade (preferably as far as possible from it as possible) and you have safety glasses on. For the bottom of the box you need to miter off all four sides (like in the second pic) but for the sides you only need to miter 3 sides (the bottom and sides like in the first pic). This helps the sides to fit together better while also leaving the top of the side pieces with room for a place to slide the top (lid) into.

Step 6: Making the Top and Making It Fit

For the top, you need to make grooves on the top of the sides for it to slide into as well as cutting the edges of the top or "lid" to fit into the grooves. (I forgot to get a picture of the cut in the sides before gluing it together but the picture provided shows them well). For mine, I made a quarter inch thick groove and made the edges of the lid to match. This helped to give the lid a snug fit while still being easy to remove.

Step 7: Assembly

For the box's assembly, it is important to add enough glue to the sides to hold it together but not so much that it oozes out of the side. If it does ooze out a bit, you can wipe the excess glue off with a paper towel. It is also important to wear safety glasses, gloves (to keep glue from sticking to your hands) and to wear clothes that you don't mind getting glue on (or an apron). You then need to get the wood clamped together so the sides will stay in place while they dry. I recommend the clamps like pictured on the box, but anything will work as long as it holds the wood in place without bending or breaking it. I also recommend giving he wood at least 24-48 hours to dry but this can change depending on the glue and wood you choose to utilize.

Step 8: Finishing the Box

Finally, after the wood dries, you want to remove the clamps from the box. Make sure that everything dried together correctly and, if it did, you can move on from the gluing stages. You can then sand down the sides, making them smooth. After this, you can either choose to add a polish or stain of your choice or leave it bare. I would, however, recommend adding one of these to protect the box from staining in the future.