Introduction: Stackable Shop Storage Boxes

About: Patrick Waters is an award-winning educator who brings the Maker Movement to new audiences. He founded The STEAMworks, a makerspace for individuals with neurological differences at The Monarch Institute in Ho…

This week, I built a 8 box set of stackable makerspace boxes. This design can be accomplished using three power tools (router, miter saw and jigsaw) and the design can be adjusted to fit your space and needs.

The dimensions given work for boxes made with 3/4″ plywood. If you use thicker or thinner plywood for the sides, your dimensions will change. Double check your measurements before cutting.

Step 1: Materials & Tools


  • 4” x 48” strip of 3/4” thick plywood. This can be substituted with 1” x 4” or 1” x 6” common pine from the lumberyard or big box store. The width of the plywood strip determines the height of each individual box. 3” to 6” works well.
  • 11 1/2” x 11 1/2” square section of 1/4” thick plywood. Again, use whatever plywood is thin and cheap in your area.
  • Nails or screws.
  • Wood glue


  • Suggested Hand-Held Power Tools: Circular saw, jig saw, miter saw, router.
  • Suggested Bench-Top Tools: Table saw, scroll saw, miter saw, router.
  • Combo square
  • Compass
  • Measuring Tape
  • Flush-cut saw
  • Hammer or Screwdriver with appropriate bit.

Step 2: Milling & Dimensioning

If necessary, use a table saw or circular saw and guide to break down your plywood into 4”-wide strips and 11 1/2”-wide x 11 1/2” tall squares. If neither of these tools are available, big box stores will often trim plywood to appropriate size using a panel saw. You can also look to join your local makerspace.

Using a powered miter saw or hand saw and miter box, cut the 4”-wide strip to length. Crosscut 2 sides at 12 1/4”. Crosscut the front and rear at 10 3/4”.

Step 3: Layout of the Handle Cutout

Use a compass and combo square to lay out an appropriate looking curve to become the handle.

Use a scroll saw, coping saw or jig saw to cut out the handle.

Step 4: Joinery

Using a hand-held router & guide or a router table, plow a 3/8”-tall x 3/8”-wide rabbet into each side of the box. Then, adjust the fence or guide to cut a 3/8”-tall x 5/8”-wide rabbet.

Flip the piece over and plow the rabbet. The side view should resemble a Z or that really annoying Tetris piece that makes me lose all the time. Check the picture for clarification.

Step 5: Assembly

  1. Using hammers and nails, nail guns and brads, or a drill and screws, fasten one side to the front and rear. Check out my Bread Box to see how to clamp the box safely.
  2. Orient the boards so the small rabbet of each side faces outside the box and lines up. The larger rabbet should face the inside of the assembly and match also.
  3. Fasten the remaining side to the front and rear, forming a square.
  4. Trim the protruding ends of the small rabbet so the box will stack.
  5. Nail the bottom to the assembly.

Step 6: Sand and Finish

Sand and finish as desired.