How to Make a Simple Wooden Box With Mortised Hinges

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This video details how to make a simple wooden box with mortised hinges. These little projects are great for jewelry boxes, keepsake boxes or just to use a place to dump your pockets at the end of the day. The video also shows you that installing mortised hinges can be a simple process with some practice.

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Supplies:

Full list of the tools that I use

Tools Used during this build (affiliate):

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Step 1: Cutting Maple for the Box Sides

I started this project by picking out some figured maple for the box and cut it down to a more workable size. After cutting off the rough edge at the table saw I cut the sides to length on the miter saw. Make sure on this step to cut the sides in order so that you will have a continues grain pattern around your box.

I set the boards upright on my workbench to get an idea of how tall I wanted my box to be. Back on the table saw I cut the box sides to final width. After that I laid out the boards on my bench and numbered them for easy referencing throughout the build.

Step 2: Prepping Walnut for the Top and Bottom Panels

At the miter saw I cut a piece of 3/4" walnut larger than what I will need for the top and bottom panels of the box. On the bandsaw I resawed the walnut in half. Air dried walnut is hard to come by so I didn’t want to waist any of it! I brought the walnut to final thickness on the planer and then set the panels aside for later.

Step 3: Cut the Dados for the Top and Bottom Panels

I set the blade of my table saw at 1/4" high and then cut a dado on each of the maple pieces 3/8" from each edge. This will be for the top and bottom panels of the box. Since the walnut panels are a little bit wider then my table saw blade, I adjusted my fence slightly and made a pass. I made small adjustments until I had the perfect fit. Once the fence was locked in the correct spot, I then ran each of the side pieces through to cut the dados to final width.

Step 4: Cut the Miters on the Box Sides

At the table saw I set my blade to cut at a 45 degree angel. I screwed a fresh board to two miter gauges and made a cut. Now I can align each of my side pieces and cut perfect 45 degree angles without really taking off any length. This is by far my favorite way to cut miters for a box.

Step 5: Assemble the Box

Laying the side pieces in order and face down I placed painters tape over each joint. Make sure that the tips of each board are touching and the top and bottom edges are aligned. The tape will act as a hinge and make assembling the box a breeze. By doing a dry fit of the box I was able to insure that it was square and get an accurate measurement for my top and bottom panels. Don’t forget to add the 1/2” makeup to these measurements.

Now the panels can be cut to final size and the box and can be assembled with wood glue. I added some clamps with light pressure just to insure that my miter joints were good and snug.

Step 6: Cut and Fit the Top for the Box

A few hours later I removed the clamps and tape and set my bandsaw fence at 1” from the blade. I designated which end of the box I wanted to be the top and then ran it through the bandsaw. This can also be done on the table saw cutting one side at a time with shallow passes.

I laid out some masking tape on my bench and use CA glue and accelerator to secure a piece of 100 grit sandpaper. I taped down the edges and then used it to sand out the bandsaw marks on the box and the lid. This will take out the marks and keep each edges nice and flat.

Step 7: Chamfer the Edges of the Box

Next, I used a mini chamfer bit to make a slight chamfer on the outside and inside edge of the box. More than the fact that I just really like chamfers I think this defines the top from the rest of the box. This mini chamfer bit has a very small guide which allows it to get the chamfer deeper into the corners of the box.

I then cut a chamfer on the outside and inside edge of the bottom of the lid and finally on the outside edge of the top of the lid. Because of the 3/8” lip I couldn’t use the chamfer bit on the inside edge so I used a chisel to create a small chamfer to match the rest. Then, I hand sanded the box with 220 grit until it was all smooth.

Step 8: Mark and Cut Mortises for the Hinges

I used a marking knife to outline the hinges and penciled in the lines so that they were easier to see. I set up my trim router with a 1/4” straight bit and set the depth to half the hight of the closed hinge. Then, I I used the router to remove most of the wood but stopping just short of my lines. I used a chisel to finish removing the waist then I repeated this step for the second hinge and for the top.

Step 9: Install the Hinges

CA glue and Accelerator can be used throughout this process to hold the hinges in place while you Mark or assemble. I’ll put a direct link in my bio for the glue that I use as well as all of the tools and products that I’ve used during this build.

Using a self centering bit I drill pilot holes for each of the screws and drove the screws in by hand.

Step 10: Time to Finish

I wanted to keep the finish simple but use something that would really bring out the figure in this maple. I ended up going with Shellac. It was easy to apply and really looked great. I applied three coats and man did this thing turn out nice. I even think that the worm holes add a nice uniqueness to the box as well as all that awesome figure.

If you want to see more details on this build you can check out the full build video here:

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