Introduction: Ring Box With Wooden Hinge

I really like making wooden boxes and always use wooden hinges, I think they look so much better than any hinge you can buy. Plus they cost so much less (in money terms that is, not time!).

As a lot of people who do woodwork I often have loads of offcuts that a generally too small to do anything with, apart from having a fire, so this is where you can use some of your scrap wood that has too much character to burn.

I have made this box out of yew wood and have acquired quite a few offcuts. Be warned though yew can be hazardous to health - the dust may be toxic and the smoke from burning it may be poisonous. If you search the internet for yew you will find many people saying it is poisonous and dangerous and others that swear its not and have used it for decades with no problems. In my eyes, if it may be dangerous then use appropriate safety equipment. When I cut and sand yew I always wear a good quality face mask to protect my lungs, I always have for a types of wood, but bought my expensive mask as I was specifically going to be using a lot of yew.

Anyway enough of all that and back to the instructable


Wood off cuts for main box - I had some that was 50mm (2") thick a good size for a ring box

More wood offcuts for hinge - I had bought some steamed beech as offcuts from ebay so have a lot hanging around, mine was 10mm (0.5") thick

Steel/brass bar - I use 3mm (1/8") diameter bar

Danish oil


Table saw

Router (attached to a table)

Hand saw

Hack saw

Belt sander

Random orbital sander

Step 1: Chop That Wood

First step is to cut up your wood in to a nice cube. You want to look at the wood and find a nice area, which will have an interesting grain/patterning and cut your piece accordingly. As my offcut was an odd shape there was only one area which was big enough for a cube so I used that section.

If your wood is a shape like mine with no straight edges just take care in cutting, making sure that it is secure before passing it through the saw. I did mine in stages using a sliding table extension to make a straight edge, then used that edge against the fence. My cube ended up being around 50mm (2") all round. I tidied up the faces with a few passes on a belt sander placed on its side (I checked that the sander was as 90 deg to the table too)

Step 2: Finger Joints - the Key to Wooden Hinges

The next stage is to make some finger joints on a couple of bits of wood so you can create your hinges.

I have a couple of ways I make finger joints, both with a router table but with different jigs. I have documented them both for completeness and information. The main difference in the jigs is that one needs a mitre slot in the router table but the other one only needs a fence. I have just made the jig I'll explain first so have only used it twice before.

The mitre slot jig involves making a 90 degree L shape from plywood. I fixed it together with biscuit joints as these are super simple and quick. As I needed a mitre slot I routed a slot in the top of my router table (which is home made and part of my table saw), making sure that it was parallel to the table saw mitre slots, this may come in useful for other jigs etc. Once the L shape is set use the table saw fence to make a small hole in the jig with the router bit, this will house a piece of wood the same size as the router bit diameter. Once you have done that you need to set the jig to the mitre slot. The jig needs to be offset from the first hole by twice the diameter of the router bit, I ripped a piece of timber about 14mm (my bit was 7mm) and used a plane and some vernier calipers to get the precise width. This can then be used against the table saw fence and the jigs fixed the the mitre slot runner. To do this rip a piece of timber the same width and depth as the mitre slot. Place the timber runner on a couple of washers so they are just proud of the table, glue the top of them and place the L jig on top of the runner, clamp and wait for glue to set. Once it is set turn over and secure further with coutersunk screws.Using it it easier than making or explaining how to make it! Just butt up the wood for your joint up against the small piece of wood in the jig, secure it and pass through the router. This slot can then be fit over the small wood and pass through the router again and just carry on. If this is to much to read there are similar jigs all over the internet and some have videos too.

The second jig which I have been using for a couple of years now also involves a L shaped jig. To one side of the jig there is a precisely vertical strip of wood and the other side houses a toggle clamp. You will also need a number of timber strips which are the same width as the router bit. This can be done with a planer/thicknesser or a plane, they do have to be quite precise though as if they are all just a fraction too large the error will soon mount up. When cutting the joints you reference the side of your timber to the vertical piece and clamp it down with the toggle clamp. Set up a fence on your router table (just a bit of wood clamped down) and set the router bit to cut at the edge of the wood. Once cut place two pieces of the wood strips between the jig and fence to move it all across by two router bit widths. Then just keep on adding two strips at a time until you've come to the other side of your joint. I like this method but it does restrict the width of joint you can make (maximum distance between the vertical strip and the toggle clamp).

This time I used the first method with 21mm wide strips (3 * router diameter). You just have to make sure the wood is well clamped with such a narrow can however make a longer than needed finger joint and cut down as needed.

Step 3: Hinges!

Now once the finger joints have been cut they need to be drilled and shaped. As they are so narrow I decided to use a drill rather than a drill press as it would be precise enough. I marked the centre points of the top joints and drilled a 3mm hole from each side, then inserted the other finger into the drilled finger and drilled all the way though the three fingers. I then put the metal rod through the holes with the joints fixed at right angles to each other. The curved bits where then shaped on the belt sander. Next take apart the joint and fix in the opposite manner and shape the other side of the joints the same way. A metal rod can now be cut to the width of the joint and inserted to make the hinge. Once put together any sticking points can be slowly sanded away with the belt sander.

Hey presto a lovely wooden hinge.

Step 4: Start the Hinges

Now you have your hinge you know how large you need your rebate/rabbet to be in your cube of wood. I initially set my normal fence on my router table to cut a slot in the middle of the wood, but the hole for the router bit was a little large and the cube got stuck half way through and caught on the bit, which took a relatively large chunk out of my wood. This was far too dangerous and seemed like it wasn't going to work without damaging the wood or my hand so I had to rethink my actions!

I decided to clamp a thin bit of timber across the router hole in the table and raise the bit up slowly through the wood to make a zero clearance hole. I could then clamp another large bit of timber adjacent to that as a fence. I set the height of the bit to the depth of the hinge; normally you would set the height to just under half the depth of the hinge (better for the joint to be further out than in as the lid wouldn't open if it was too deep). However as I had already messed the back up I wanted to clean that face up by reducing the width of the cube to get rid of the chip, so would end up as half the hinge thickness. Once the height was set I passed the cube through once and turned it round 180 degrees and passed it through again to make sure the slot was central. A little adjustment to fence and a few more passes made the width of the slot to just under the width the hinge.

I then sanded the back of the cube to tidy up my previous mistakes and to make the rebate/rabbet the correct depth.

Step 5: Cut the Lid, the Inside and Install the Hinges

Now the lid needs to be cut off. I cut the top off so it was around 1/3 to 1/4 of the finished box on the table saw. I then drilled a hole in the main box and the lid with a fostner bit on my pillar drill.

The hinges then need to be sanded down to the same width as the rebate/rabbet. Do this bit by bit and keep testing for tightness and things can get pretty loose pretty quick if you don't.

Before gluing the hinge I sanded the back of the box and the sides of the hinges to my finishing grit as these areas wouldn't be easily sanded once the hinges were installed.

Its just a case of then gluing the hinge to the box, making sure the metal pin meets the joint between the lid and main body, clamping and waiting.

Step 6: Finishing Steps

Next unclamp the box and trim the end of the joint with a hand saw.

I then sanded all sides of the box with 80, 120, 180 and 240 grit sand paper using the belt sanded and a random orbital sander.

To finish the insides I cut a couple of circles of recycled leather to glue in to the top and bottom of the insides.

Now all that is remaining is to finish it with a couple of coats of danish oil.

This turned out to be a really nice box, I like the patterning of the wood and the smallness of it. Very pleased!

I'm going to enter this in to the woodworking contest so if you've liked it please vote! Thanks!

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