Introduction: Storage Boxes With Japanese-Style Lids

About: Be limited only by your imagination.

These storage boxes are made of 1/2 inch plywood. The lids have a self-locking mechanism characteristic of Japanese toolboxes.

Step 1: Cut List and Tools Needed

You will need to cut the following (all measurements are in inches)

11.5 X 11.5 Ends (2)

11.5 X 16 Sides (2)

11.5 X 15.5 bottom

11.5 X 15 Lid

2 X 12.5 Top Piece and Lid Lip (4) These are the pieces that will be on the top of the box

1.5 X 12.5 Lid Wings

You will also need #6 screws including 1 inch and 1 5/8 inch.

Woodworking Glue

Blue Painter's Tape

Tape measure


Table saw



#6 countersink and pilot bit


Label Holder

Optional Stain/Finish

  1. Cut all the parts on the table saw. You can of course adjust the measurements to suit your needs.
  2. Make a template for the screw placement using masking tape or blue painter's tape. You will need one for the 11.5 inch end and for the 16 inch side. I stacked similar pieces on top of each other and adjusted the depth of the pilot bit on the countersink so that it pierced 1/8 inch below the piece I worked on and this left pilot holes for the piece below. That way I only had to measure once and the screw placement was identical.
  3. The end pieces are only attached to the bottom and so require three countersunk screws. Use woodworking glue on all joints.
  4. The side pieces require screws on the bottom but also into the ends.
  5. The Top Piece is attached to the ends using 1 inch screws and then the lid lip is driven into the top using 1 5/8 inch screws.
  6. Finally, the lid is held into place with two lid wings. Move the lid until it butts up against the end piece and mark where the first lid wing goes. Then move the lid so that the opposite end rests about 1/2 inch below the opposite lid lip and mark the second lid wing's placement.
  7. Sand the rough edges and use stain and sealant if desired
  8. Attach the label holder and insert the label.

Step 2: Closing the Lid

The top slides under one lid lip and the lid wings prevent the lid from falling into the box. Then you slide the other side until the lid is also under the opposite lid lip.

Step 3: Video of the Lid Closing

It can be a bit difficult to visualize how this all works, so I've attached a video.

Video of Lid Closing