In this instructable I'll show you how I made this minecraft inspired pencil box!
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
I made this box from wood I found or salvaged. I found a long stringer of cool red wood (some sort of mahogany is my best guess) in the parking lot of home depot and tore down a pallet and got some nice Maple out of it. The pallet didn't want to come apart nicely so I ended up just cutting it apart with a sawzall so I've had a bunch of small scrap pieces just laying around, waiting to be put to use.
Other things you'll need:
pin nailer (optional)
Step 2: Prepare Your Materials
Time to get the wood ready! I used my joiner to surface 2 faces perpendicular to each other and get that initial 90 degree angle so we can start making square cuts.
Run one wide edge of your material over the planer, then use that against the fence to square off a narrow edge. You now have a perfect 90 degree corner to start working from.
Next, use your planer to flatten the other wide edge and make it parallel to the first wide surface. After a few passes, you'll have some nice flat and thin material to work with. I shot for a thickness of 1/4", but really, you can do as thin or thick as you'd like.
You'll need 4 pieces for the side walls and one for the bottom.
Step 3: Make Your Sides and Bottom.
Once you are done at the planer, head over to the table saw. Set your blade to 45 degrees and your fence to cut along the edge of your narrowest board. Because I used pallet wood, I was forced to go kind of narrow, but you can adjust this measurement to your own preference. I ended up with my first cut being at about 3 1/2", make that first pass along 4 of your pieces. Then, reduce the fence on the table saw down to around 3 1/4" and make the cut on the other side. Pay attention to your orientation of the original miter cut you made. Have the high side ride along the fence so that your angle is the opposite direction on the new cut. You should end up with some pyramid looking pieces with the tip cut off.
Step 4: Cut Your Side Walls.
If you don't have a cross cut sled (build one!) you can do this step with a miter gauge or at the miter saw. Determine how tall you want your pencil box to be, I went with 3 3/4" tall for mine. It seemed to be a good height for pens and pencils. You should now have 4 small side walls and your bottom piece yet to be cut. As you can see here, I ended up making 2 boxes at the same time.
Step 5: Mark the Bottoms of Each Wall for the Bottom Insert.
Using your bottom board, mark the depth of it along the bottoms of your four wall pieces. Use that mark to nibble away a groove for the bottom board to fit in. I use the cross cut sled and make several passes to eat away the material to accommodate the bottom. I went with a depth of 1/8" for the bottom.
Step 6: Prepare the Bottom Piece and Get Ready for Glue Up.
Use some painters tape and lay out a long strip of it, adhesive side up. Lay out your side walls end to end getting the edges to line up tightly. Take this opportunity to make a dry fit of the walls together using the tape to hold everything together. Ensure the box is square by measuring from corner to corner, if the measurement is the same, it is square. At this time, take a measurement of how big your bottom piece needs to be, and cut one accordingly.
Step 7: Glue It All Together
Apply glue to all the joints, including the bottom edge. Use the same tape method again to form your box. Using the tape you can ensure that all your edges line up nice and square. Press the bottom plate into position as well. Now you can slowly apply clamps, making sure to not over tighten. Doing so can make your mitered corners pop out of alignment as well. Don't forget to clamp that bottom piece in as well. You could also use a pin nailer for the bottom if you wanted. Let the clamps stay on for at least a few hours. I let mine sit overnight.
Step 8: Time to Sand
After you remove the clamps, it is time to sand. I took all the edges down to 220. Once your sanding is done, you can apply any stain you might want to use. I was hoping to get that orange look of the chests in minecraft, but ended up not liking it that much. I still used the box, but I left it as a plain box and didn't go any further making it a minecraft themed box.
Step 9: Attach Your Trim
I went with a contrasting wood for the trim out. I used some old strips of mahogany I had laying around (by now you should see why most of us woodworkers hang on to small pieces, you never know when you're going to get a chance to use it again).
Simply start with the sides of your box, mark and cut each piece so you know for sure they are all square and flush with the sides. Once the sides are done, go to the front and back of your box. Again, mark and cut each piece to fit. I used a little wood glue and pin nails to attach these pieces. If you use a pin nailer, be sure and check how long your pins are. Mine were too long and shot through into the middle of the box. Not a huge deal, a quick hit with a file and they are shaved down smooth and not a danger of stabbing your finger when you reach for a pencil.
Step 10: Apply Your Finish of Choice
I had a spray can of water based poly laying around so decided to use that and get it used up. I still have 7/8 of the can left after finishing the box. It's such a small project, it doesn't use much product.
Use whatever finish you'd like. Apply a couple of thin coats and lightly sand between coats. Be sure and follow the finishes manufacturers recommendations to get the proper protection.
Step 11: All Done!
You don't have to do the trim, and you certainly don't have to make a minecraft themed box, but you can! I ended up making 3 total boxes. 2 from maple and the pallet wood, and one from some spalted maple laying around. The Maple ended up being my test box to make sure I had the procedure down. These are first 3 pencil boxes I've ever made like this and it was a fun process. This is a great way to use up some smaller scrap pieces of wood in the shop and still turn out a productive, useful item. And lets be honest, you don't have to put pencils in there, these little boxes could be used for all sorts of things.
Be sure and check out the video in the next step.
Step 12: Watch the Video on How to Do It!
Runner Up in the
Minecraft Challenge 2018