Introduction: The JIQCS Box: Japanese Inspired Quick Custom Storage Box

The JIQCS Box is my remix of the classic Japanese toolbox. I love cool boxes of all kinds. The Japanese toolbox is an elegant and cleverly constructed box that closes up fully without needing any fancy hinges or hardware. My remix of this design is different because.

  • It has a bent wire "latch" that keeps the lid from coming open.
  • It can be made in about 20 minutes
  • MATH FREE: I have a google sheets spreadsheet you can open online that will generate a cut list for all the pieces needed based on the plywood thickness you already have on hand. It does all the work and you can print it out start cutting away. No head scratching required.


Plywood: 3/8 or thicker if you plan to use any nails or staples to tack things together

Wood glue

Piece of copper wire (10 or 12AWG) or a coat hanger 6" long

Step 1: Calculate Your JIQCS Box Cut List

First --- Measure the stuff that will go into the box. You may want to round up a little if you have some desired outside dimensions.

Next, we'll use a form that calculates the size of all the pieces based on how big of a box you want.

Go here and make a copy of the google drive spreadsheet.

Also available as and open documents spreadsheet for the free libreoffice suite

The instructions for using the spreadsheet are in it. The thing to know is that you can punch in either the size of the stuff you want to be able to put into the box OR you punch in the size you want the outside to be. Delete all the information from the MANUAL areas and then fill in just 3 boxes for length, height, and width. Then the spreadsheet will do the rest of the work. Pick only one of INSIDE dimensions or OUTSIDE dimension to enter manually. One.... Pick one.................

Step 2: Print Out Your Bill of Material (BOM)

The JIQCS box has all the dimensions of the all the parts below your manually entered information.

The cut list and required quantities are a huge time saver. You could even open the google sheet on your phone if you don't want to print it.

Step 3: Rip Your 3 Strips of Plywood

The way this box is designed allows you to set your rip fence only 3 times and then crosscut all of the other pieces. The dimensions shown above are for the 6 x 12.5 x 2.5 inch inside dimension box I made.

  • 1/2 strip for the cleats
  • A strip for the bottom, lid, ends, and lid retainers (6" for mine)
  • A strip for the sides (3-5/8" for mine)

Step 4: Cut the Lid, Bottom, Ends, and Lid Retainers to Length

All of these pieces have the same width, so mark, chop, mark, chop. It goes really quickly to cut these 6 pieces.

Step 5: Cut the Two Side Pieces to Length

Both of these are the same width, so just cut them to length.

Step 6: Cut the Cleats

3 cleats are required. Two of them are glued to the sides of box to press the lid against the top. One is glued to the top as a handle. I cut an extra so I could stack two of them (the thickness of the lid retainer + the thickness of the lid) to know how far down the lid support cleats needed to be attached.

Step 7: Assemble the Bottom to the Ends

I used a bead of glue in every joint and then used my pneumatic brad nailer to hold it together with some staples. It is much faster than waiting for the glue to set up.

Step 8: Attach the Sides

A quick bead all along the bottom and ends and then a few quick staples.

Step 9: Attach the Lid Retainers

The lid retainers get glued to the top of the ends. I put in a pair of staples to hold it while the glue dries. Notice the notch added to end of the wider lid retainer. It is what will allow the kickstand to pass when you want to open the box.

Step 10: Glue the Cleats on to Support the Lid

The cleats need to be the thickness of the lid below the lid retainers. If they are too high, the lid won't slide under the retainers. If they are too low, the lid will be sloppy. I got mine just a tad too high. I chamfered (beveled) the end of my lid so it would slip under the retainers. It made for a really excellent fit when I was done.

Step 11: Add Holes for the Retaining Wire

The little wire kickstand will need a couple holes. I put mine at 3.5" and 4.5" from the end. They are located on the centerline of the lid panel.

Step 12: Glue the Last Cleat in As a Handle

In the center of the lid panel, glue the clean on to make a handle.

Step 13: Put Some Shine on It

I have traditionally treated wood finishes as something holy and to be done with the utmost care. This had prevented me from protecting a lot of the stuff I have made. I'm over that now. I keep a pile of foam brushes and a can of spar urethane on hand all the time. After a few quick minutes of sanding and a quick dusting, I slobbered some poly on it. Why slop it on like that? Because I don't like splinters and it makes the boxes nicer to handle and it won't get so dirty. I wasn't going to do anything with it--As Dad had to remind me on occasion, it's not a piano.

Step 14: Add the Wire Latch

The wire latch works by bumping into the lid retainer like a kickstand while the lid isn't being intentionally opened. When you wan to open the box, push the wire just slightly to the side so it slides into the notch and the lid will slide enough to open. Because the wire is being bent only slightly, it springs back to the latched position naturally. It also needs pushed out of the way when putting the lid on.

To make the wire, put your wire into a vise and strip about 6 inches of it. Then bend the end of it into a "U" shape and pass it into the holes in the lid. Hammer it flat and flip it over and hammer the part sticking out flat. Clip the end of the wire at the edge of the panel 1/8" back from the edge -- test fit your lid and see if more needs trimmed.

Step 15: Enjoy!

The lid is put onto the box by pushing the wire so it lines up with the notch, slipping the lid under the wide lid retainer, and then sliding the lid toward the narrow lid retainer. The wire will kick out and keep the lid from sliding open.

Step 16: Thank You.

If you you know a maker that could use an awesome new tool and you like supporting instructables like this one. You can do BOTH by checking out the #MADEINUSA branding irons I make that allow you to burn your fully custom logo into your finished work. Check out my shop at – THANK YOU – yeltrow

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