This is a weekend project to make a small open-frame 'table' to hold two cigar boxes. I was inspired for the project while cleaning up my little basement workshop - too many things laying around - so I decided to use up some scrap wood and a couple of cigar boxes. I use the cigar boxes for building guitars and ukuleles, but some boxes aren't suited for that purpose, so what to do with them?
This Instructable describes how I built this 'on the fly' meaning that I didn't plan this out, just went to the shop and started in. It took me parts of one Saturday to build (in between driving the kids around to sport events, etc) and parts of Sunday to finish. I would rate myself as a hobby woodworker with beginner-level skills and no patience for sanding or for long-term planning of my projects. I have written this Instructable for a person like me.
Step 1: Supplies and Tools
I selected two identical cigar boxes and then sorted my scrap wood until I found a couple pieces of fir. You could use any scrap wood you have around. If you actually go buy wood, get something from the discard pile at Home Depot or Lowes; you can probably get something nice without knots for cheap.
- 2 cigar boxes, preferably identical in size (if you can't purchase them locally, try Cigars International)
- about 4 feet of wood stock,
- a 1x4x" x~4 footer for the legs and rails
- a short slab of 1x10" x about 12" for the top
The tools I used included:
- table saw
- belt sander
- chisel set
- sanding block
- some clamps
- double-sided tape
- wood glue
- wipe-on polyurethane (or your favorite; shellac, etc)
Step 2: Initial Layout
I stood there staring at the project and pondering a second cup of coffee, made a few measurements and then decided to cut 4 legs at 7 inches tall. 7 inches seemed 'tall enough'. So I ripped part of the 1 x 4 into 2 pieces length-wise and make 4 7" legs. When placed next to the cigar boxes the legs seemed too square so I decided to slice them at an angle. I kept the discard pieces (useful later). I held the newly shaped legs together as a single unit and lightly sanded them on the belt sander until they were identical. When I placed them next two the two boxes things were starting to 'take shape'.
I realized then that I'd need front, side and back rails, so I used the table saw to cut some rails from the remaining 1x4 stock. The side rails were about 3/8" by 3/8" square and about 2 feet long and I made three. The front and back rails were 3/8" by 1/4", two pieces about 2 feet long each.
Then I measured and remeasured and finally cut the rails into appropriate-length pieces. The last picture above shows the two front rails before they were fit into the legs. I cut them longer than the cigar box. The cigar box was 9 1/2" wide so I cut the front rails at 10 1/2" with the intention of setting them 3/8" into the legs (next step). The 'extra' between the 1/2" rail (per side) and the 3/8" slot would serve so that the cigar box wasn't too tight in the frame.
The side rails were cut about 3/8" longer than the cigar boxes were deep.
Step 3: Slicing the Legs to Accept the Rails
For me, this part is what makes or breaks the build. How do the legs accept the rails? I decided to cut slots into the legs. I wanted to keep them exactly the same, so I cut all 4 legs at once. To accomplish this, I took the 4 legs and used double-sided tape to hold them together as a single unit. I also clamped them with a small clamp.
I fit things to eye and then made measurements. They were worked out as follows:
- The top was 3/8" thick, so I needed an 'open' slot at the top of the legs that was 3/8 x 3/8".
- The first cigar box was 2 " tall so I made the space for it 2 1/4" tall (a little extra room).
- The second slot was 3/8 x 3/8" and will hold the rails to hold the upper cigar box.
- The third slot was again 2 1/4" lower and 3/8 x 3/8"
Then I marked where the cuts should go, checked and rechecked, and checked one last time. I did the extra checking because this is the step where I typically make a mistake and then the front of whatever project I am building looks amateurish. I also took the extra step of using my calipers to set the height of the blade on the table saw.
I made a test cut on some scrap and then the first cut on the legs. I test-fitted the rails into the first cut and they were snug but not too loose or tight. Perfect! Then I cut the other two slots and test-fitted the side rails and the two cigar boxes (last photo above). Coming together nicely!
Step 4: Assemble the Frame / Make the Top
I test-fit the pieces and lightly sanded them, then glued the frame up in three steps.
First I placed the front two legs and the front rails on a flat board and glued them up, using a clamp to apply a small amount of pressure to held the pieces in shape. The scrap wood saved from when the legs were cut to shape are good here because you can temporarily "add them back" while clamping and the clamp will have an easier time. Check the third picture above for a close up of what I mean.
Second I glued the side rails to the back legs and used a piece of scrap wood to help as I clamped them.
I let everything dry of a couple hours. At this point I was about 1 hour into the project.
After running some errands I came back and test-fit the glued up pieces, did some light sanding again, and then got ready to glue it up as a single piece. This is when I realized that I hadn't made the top yet. So I measured and sure enough the top was 10 1/2" by about 10". I carefully cut it and assembled the entire thing again to see how it was looking.
It looked good but not great so I asked my wife and she said it seemed 'of the oriental style' and that beveling the edges might be a nice touch. Great idea, so I beveled the edges of the top and of the legs (see pictures above) and test fit it yet again.
Finally I glued the whole thing together, using the top to help keep it square. I added the back rails, which simply sit atop the side rails and are flush with the back legs. The back rails serve two purposes; more rigidity in the design and to keep the cigar boxes from falling out the back.
I then left the project to dry overnight.
Step 5: Handles for the Cigar Boxes
Day 2: At this point I turned my attention to the cigar boxes. One needed to have some of the paper glued back on so I attended to that and while the glue was drying I took 2 pieces of scrap and made two simple drawer pulls. They are 2" long 3/8 x 3/8" stock leftover from the rails. I used a chisel to make a groove and then used a sanding block to sand it completely square. I test-fit them to the boxes (see third picture) and then chiseled out a divot in the box to accept the handles when the box ix completely closed.
Step 6: Finish!
I took the little thing outside (is it a table? a dresser? what exactly is it? I don't know) and did one last sanding of it all. Then I wiped it with a clean cloth and finally I used some wipe-on poly to give it a good first coat. I let that dry for 3 hours, sanded lightly, then gave it a second coat. A very light sanding and voila! A finished little set of drawers!
Time to drink some prosecco with a shot of home-made raspberry liquor and dream up the next project!