Fancy Shmancy In-box




About: I've built houses, decks, custom cabinets, furniture of all types. Ive done furniture repair and restoration, residential and commercial remodels, restaurant seating and tables and hotel furniture. Ive been ...

I got the plans for this from an old Woodsmith Magazine.
The jointery is called "Mortise and spline" and normally adds strength to the joint but using the other wood gives it a nice touch
I also screwed up the first frame I made because I did not ensure my table saw blade was parallel to the miter slots. Its a rookie mistake and it wont happen again. so you will see pictures of me planing the lumber. I started with Cherry and Maple.
So the finished product is Maple and Walnut finished with sprayed water based Polycrylic from Minwax.

Hope you enjoy looking.

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Step 1: Plane and Mill the Lumber to 1/2" Thick

I will not go into dimensions on this, if anybody would like the plans they need to find a "Woodsmith #182"
The tray inside dimension is approximately 13"X10" I used approximately 7 .5 BF total.

Step 2: Rip and Crosscut the Boards to the Proper Lengths and Bevels

you need to rip your boards to proper width. The frame is about 2.5"wide and the trays being about 3" wide.
after you have the boards milled and ripped to proper dimension, you should then cut the frames pieces to proper lengths

I dont have pics of cutting the frame pieces to length but its pretty straight foreward you need to horizontal lower pieces (for the bottom of the frame) and 2 horizontal pieces for the top connecting rails. you need to make a mortise jig for your table saw to make the spline grooves (one for the top joints and one for the cross joints).

Step 3: Glue Up the Frame

This next step is straight foreward as well. I didnt use a mechanical clamp on this. I used painters tape. It works perfectly (if your angles are correct)
Yellow glue is almost the only type of glue I use on woodworking projects. it cleans well and sets pretty fast.

I cut the splines to fit. you do not want to have to force the spline in but you do not want it to wiggle at all either so a little trial and error is on tap. just till you get it right.

Step 4: The Trays...

after cutting the miters for the trays I cut a 3/16ths inch groove along the inside of the tray to accept the plywood bottom. Its supposed to be 1/4" but its slightly thinner so if you do not want them to ratlle too much dont cut too wide of a groove.
and again no mechanical clamps, just painters tape. and no glue on the plywood groove. you want the panel to float in the groove. Expansion and contraction from the seasons will blow out a joint if its too tight.

before you glue it together cut the handles for the trays as well, If I was to do this again, I wouldnt cut the handles I would either make or purchase some fancy pulls of handles. so make a decision and continue on...

no pics of that glue-up process either, Sorry

Step 5: Cut the Spline Grooves in the Trays and the Frame at the Same Time

Now its time to cut the spline slots for the trays and the bottom of the frame. This is 1/8 thick (blade kerf)
when you cut the actual splines use lots of trial and error. this can be a tedious step but it makes the project that much better when done correctly.
then just glue them in place and wait overnight.
after they have cured overnight use a flushcut saw to trim them flush. and then sand sand sand some more.
now you need to round over the corners on the trays and the frames. use a router and router table with a 1/2" roundover bit.
sand some more.

Step 6: Cut the Runners and the Grooves

after you have everything sanded its time to cut the grooves(the dadoes) for the tray runners to slide in. I used a 3/4" straight bit in my router table and a fence with stop blocks to prevent going too far along the tray.  also cut 4- 3/4" X 3/4" runners for the tray. and screw or glue them in place in the frame.

Step 7: Finish the Project

after its properly sanded wipe it down with mineral spirits to see if you have any glue spots and to wipe off all the dust.
I finished this piece with Minwax tung oil finish and spray on Water based Polycrylic.
after the finish is done curing you can use a past wax to help the trays sliding and screw the top try in place.
and what you have is a fancy shmancy in-box.

Thanks for looking!

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    25 Discussions


    3 years ago

    That looks really nice, Great job!


    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Quality designs in this magazine. If you like this project, you might consider subscribing.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    should probably remove this post as it may infringe on copyright law....

    And yes, back in the day their magazine was an excellent buy for woodworkers but as of the past few years, it absolutely sucks.... It's deffinately not the same magazine it used to be...


    Reply 4 years ago

    when the magazine complains, instructables can manage the images. It's not the full article, it's cited, and I suggest that any woodworking project MUST have dimensions to be complete.

    Gorgeous! You should definitely enter this in both the 'Holiday Gifts' and 'Shopbot' contests. One comment on the picture...the lamp and candle draw some attention away from the piece. It's a good picture, but it doesn't show off your work as much as it deserves : )

    1 reply

    Woodworker I am, Photographer I am not, Sorry, Its where the wife put it.
    but thank you for the kind words. I do appreciate it.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is great! i was thinking of making something like this...only smaller for a tool box!

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Beautiful project. I have added it to my ever growing list of must-try workshop projects. Boy, that list doesn't ever get smaller!

    1 reply