Introduction: Wooden Shoe Shine Box

Full disclosure and transparency: all credit to the guys @ The art of manliness, where I found the plans for this very practical and fun to build project. They themselves credit some old plans from a magazine in their article.

Also, please bear in mind that I'm by no means a professional (not even close), this is my first attempt at an Instructable and I have a limited range of tools (not to mention space) at my disposal.

I started this project because I had a bunch of scrap wood lying around and wanted my daughters to build some basic woodworking skills. You'll notice from the pictures there's different kinds and thickness of wood utilised. Mostly it's pine, but there's a bit of plywood in there as well. Always wear eye and hearing protection, and teach your children how to properly use it as well.

Step 1: Prepare Your Materials and Cut the Parts

Following the dimensions from the plans above, cut your materials to length and size. I only have a handsaw and a jigsaw to work with, so achieving straight (square) cuts is paramount.

Always follow the "measure twice, cut once" rule of thumb and take your time making the cuts, especially if you don't have a circular or a table saw to help you keep everything square.

Step 2: Cutting the Corners...

As you can tell from the pictures, I took some liberties with the design of the box, namely the angled corners instead of round ones and larger overall dimensions.

Lesson learned: When cutting plywood, use masking tape to avoid splintering. You can see in the pictures above the difference using masking tape on the left cut made vs. the cut on the right.

Step 3: Cutting the Dowel and Preparing the Panels

Decide whether you want your dowel to go through the ends of the box or if you want it to "sit" within and cut to the appropriate length. I decided to anchor my dowels to the ends and hold them with screws to allow them to rotate freely, making the shoe shining easier. I cut my dowel 1/4" longer than the inner length of the base to allow for mounting in the side walls. I then measured and drilled with a wood-boring bit that matched the diameter of my dowel (it was actually slightly larger, but this allowed free rotation of the dowel, while the screw keeps it in place).

Don't mount anything yet, we'll get to that in a minute. This would be a good time to sand everything and get rid of splinters and unsightly pencil marks. Depending on your wood and your desired finish, use different grits of sandpaper in each piece. I went for a very "unfinished" look, so I just gave everything a once over with 120 grit sandpaper.

Step 4: Mounting, Gluing and Assembly

Stage your parts together to ensure proper fit and alignment of the box.

Use wood glue to fix the side panels to the base of the box (I know, it's not like in the plans, I told you I took a few liberties...)

Use a drill to make pilot holes for your screws (I used 3.5 x 25 mm screws) to avoid splitting the wood when you're driving them in.

Fix one end panel to the base and side panels (picture 5) and then screw in both dowels from that side (picture 6). I used the tiny holes left behind from my wood boring bit to screw in the dowels (at the center) to allow for rotation. Ensure you've fixed both dowels before you attach the opposite end panel (pictures 6 & 7).

Step 5: Fixing the Final Piece

If you followed your plans and did the mock-up earlier, you should have only one piece of wood left. This is where you will rest your foot to shine your shoe, so it needs to be properly fixed to the end panels. I fixed mine with two screws on each side to ensure rigidity.

That's it! You now have a sturdy (this thing can easily take my 9-year old standing on one foot on top of it) shoe shine box and you can feel proud of yourself for making something out of very little! Hope you had fun building this Instructable!