Simple Jewelry Boxes

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I had the idea of making simple jewelry boxes for my nieces as presents for Christmas this year. They can be made fairly inexpensively and don’t take very long.
The boxes were made out of poplar and then stained different colors so they weren’t all exactly the same. I then further personalized them by putting their favorite color felt as a liner in each of them.

Step 1: Parts List, Tools and Cut List

This is for all 3 boxes

Parts list:
(1) 1”x6”x3’ poplar board (base)
(1) 3/4”x6”x3’ poplar board (top)
(2) 3/4”x4”x4’ poplar board (sides)
(3) 2 pack of 1.5” long hinges
(1) 10 pack 3/8” diameter strong magnets
Felt sheets
(3) 3”x5” small oval mirror
Adhesive felt pads
Stain
Polyurethane clear coat
Small eye screws
Thin chain

Tools:
Wood glue
Spray adhesive
Double sided tape
Hand saw
Miter saw
Table saw
Drill and drill bits
Small hand plane
Bar clamps
Strap clamp
Painters tape
Foam brushes
Tape measure or carpenters rule
Sandpaper 60 grit to 320 grit
Sander
Square
Pencil
Awl
Razor knife

Cut list:
Cut from 1x6:
3 pieces 9 1/2” x 5 1/2”

Cut from 3/4x6
3 pieces 9x5

Cut from 3/4x4
6 pieces 9” x 2 1/2”
6 pieces 5” x 2 1/2”

Sides are cut with 45 degree miter

Step 2: Cutting the Sides and Glue Up

Make sure to cut the last 1/4” off your boards to true them to your miter saw.
Rip the 3/4x4 boards down to 2 3/4” then cut the end at a 45 degree miter.
Mark a line at 9” then cut at 45 degrees making sure to alternate which way the angle is going.
Use the 9” piece to scribe the line for the next cut.
Do the same for the 5” pieces.

Place the pieces back to back and use the hand plane to trim down to exact size if they aren’t exactly the same length. You can also use sand paper to do the same thing.

Lay the pieces end to end on a piece of painters tape to make glueing easier. Before applying glue roll the pieces up to ensure a good fit.
Spread glue on the ends of the pieces and roll up then secure the tape to hold in place.
Put the strap clamp in place and tighten down. You can use a damp rag to clean up the glue that squeezes out.
After about 20 minutes, use a knife or chisel to scrape the little bit of semi-dry glue that the rag couldn’t get.

Once the glue is dry, remove the clamp and painters tape. As you can see, under the tape there was some dried glue that I couldn’t wipe off.
So, I used my small hand plane to carefully remove the glue that was left.

Step 3: Cutting the Top and Glueing in Place

Rip the 3/4 x 6 down to just over 5” then cut to just over 9” long.
I cut them slightly oversized so that I could sand them flush with the sides.
Spread glue around the top edge of the sides and clamp in place.
Clean up the glue the same way as in the previous step.

Step 4: Router and Separate the Top.

After trimming the top down to where it is flush with the sides, I used a router with a 1/4” round over bit to give the top edge a nice soft look to it.

Then I scribed a line around the box 3/4” down from the top. I gently clamped it in my vise and used my handsaw to cut the top off the box.
The easiest way to do this is to clamp it in at an angle so that you can use two lines to keep your cut straight.

Another way you could do this would be to use a bandsaw or tablesaw to cut the top off as well. Remember that if you use a tablesaw it will leave a larger kerf so your box will be a little shorter the using a handsaw or bandsaw.

After separating the top of the box I used a disc of sandpaper laid flat on the workbench and sanded the top and the box to remove saw marks.

Doing it this way ensures even sanding so you don’t get any low spots.

Step 5: Cutting and Glueing the Base

Cut the 1x6 to 9 1/2”. Don’t worry about ripping it down because the width on a 1x6 is actually 5 1/2”.

I then used an ogee router bit around the edge to give it a nice finish.
Line up the box on the base. There should be a 1/4” from the edge on all sides.
Once I did that I marked the inside corners of the box onto the base to make it easier to line up while glueing.

I marked the inside because it will be covered by the felt so I didn’t need to worry about sanding it off later.

Glue the edges of the box and clamp it in place.
Do the cleanup of the glue the same way as the previous steps.

Step 6: Stain, Magnet Latch and Clear Coat

Sand the boxes smooth starting with 60 grit sandpaper and progressing to 220 grit paper.

I stained all three of the boxes a different color based on what my nieces like. The good thing about poplar is that it is a light wood that will work with pretty much any stain.

I didn’t worry about staining the areas that were going to be covered with the felt.

After staining, find the center point of the front edge and mark it with your awl for drilling the hole for the magnet.
I used a 3/8” Forstner bit to drill the hole because it leaves a flat bottom.
Fill the hole about halfway with glue and press the magnet in place.
Wipe the glue that comes out with a damp rag and then put a piece of painters tape over the magnet to hold it in place while it dries.

Repeat this for the top of the box, making sure that the magnet is the proper direction so it keeps the box closed instead of pushing it open.

Once the magnet is glued in place, start applying the polyurethane with foam brushes and sanding with 220 grit paper after the first 2 coats and 320 grit after the 3rd coat and finish with a polishing cloth after the final coat.

Step 7: Add Hinges

Once the clear coat is done it’s time to put the hinges on.

I placed some of the felt pads around the top to use as a spacer so the hinges wouldn’t bind when closing the box.

Next clamp the lid in place from the sides and the top to keep everything lined up for the hinges.

Mark the edge of the hinges 1” in from the edge and mark the center of the holes with the awl.

Mark the drill bit for the pilot hole with some tape so that you don’t drill through the side if the box.

Make sure to screw the hinges in by hand so the small screws won’t snap on you.

Remove the felt pads from the rear edge of the box, but leave the front ones so that it will close softly.

Step 8: Felt Liner and Mirror

Measure the insides of the boxes and mark these measurements on the poster board as a template for the felt.

Cut the felt to size and use the spray adhesive to attach the felt to the poster board.

For the top trace out the oval for the mirror and cut the felt and poster board to leave an opening for the mirror.

Once the felt is glued to the poster board, dry fit the pieces in place. Trim them down as needed to fit perfectly in the box.
Use the spray adhesive to glue the liner pieces in place.

Attach the double sided tape to the back of the mirror, and then place in the lid of the box.

Step 9: Chain for Lid and Clean Up

Use the awl to mark pilot holes for the eye screws and hand screw them in place.
Open the last chain link enough to go over the eye screw then clamp it closed again.
Determine the length of chain needed and open that link to remove the rest of the chain and close over the other eye screw.

Use a razor scraper to clean up any glue that may have gotten on the mirror and use a small vacuum to clean any residue on the felt.

Attach felt pads to the bottom of the box to use as feet.

Step 10: All Finished Up

Here they are all finished up.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Happy building everyone

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    10 Discussions

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    PeterM520

    Question 19 days ago on Step 10

    This looks great, and it seems pretty simple to make. I do have a couple of questions:
    I had a bit of trouble understanding your cut list. Would you be able to clarify it just a bit?
    Without using any finishing nails at all, is this strong enough to hold together?

    I also had a thought about the top: given that the router is already out, I'm thinking I might rout out a 1/4" groove and put an inlay in, either with a differently stained piece of poplar, or with another hard wood strip.

    It also probably wouldn't be too hard to add dividers to the inside of the box to make compartments.

    Thanks for putting this up. Very inspiring!

    5 answers
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    jason_rautioPeterM520

    Answer 19 days ago

    I updated the cut list to hopefully make it a bit easier to understand.
    Because it is just for holding jewelry I didn’t feel the need to use finishing nails due to the fact that the titebond II glue has a hold strength of 3750 psi. If you apply it properly and allow it to cure like it says there won’t be any problem.

    As for doing inlay and dividers I say go for it! This is just how I did it and if you want to change it for your purposes feel free. I haven’t had any practice with doing inlay myself, but when I learn how then I might try another one with some inlay.

    If you make one with some inlay please put up a picture on here so that I can see how it turns out. I’m glad that I could inspire you.

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    Jhonbakerjason_rautio

    Reply 19 days ago

    These are sweet boxes, indeed. I have to disagree about the strength though. Miters are not very strong - though these will hold together under normal intended use - they will not tolerate much abuse. I agree to not use finishing nails as I don't care for the holes no matter how you hide them - I tend to use splines or corner dowels for mechanical strength. If you don't want that look you can always put splines in the miters so they are never seen.

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    PeterM520Jhonbaker

    Reply 19 days ago

    What do you guys think about small pocket screws?
    J: I understand your point that this is made to hold jewelry or small things, not heavy box-busting items. My concern about the durability is more about if the box is put down roughly, or maybe dropped. My concern is that if a corner takes impact, the whole thing could just fall apart. What do you think?

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    JhonbakerPeterM520

    Reply 19 days ago

    That’s what I mean by abuse. I think pocket screws are great in the right applications. Small boxes are too small for even the smaller pockets - good glue and attractive joinery is super strong. Splines are not difficult. If you can cut niters you can cut splines.

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    PeterM520jason_rautio

    Reply 19 days ago

    Thanks, Jason. The cut list is clear to me now. If I manage to try the inlay, I'll put a picture up, though in all honesty, my work is not normally anything that too many people would want to emulate. (It always seems to be just tiny bit...off.)
    Thanks again!

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    winneremerald12

    19 days ago

    If this was in any contest, I would vote for it.

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    winneremerald12

    19 days ago

    If this was in any contest, I would vote for it.

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    seamster

    24 days ago

    These look great! Perfect gifts too. I'm getting geared up for the holiday gift-making mode, and these are a great idea. Thank you!

    1 reply
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    jason_rautioseamster

    Reply 24 days ago

    Glad you like them and I hope that whoever you make them for enjoy them,