I was asked to make a simple storage box which resembled another box bought from a shop for a wedding next year. This box, along with the other, will be used in the ladies and gents bathrooms to hold various perfumes and toiletries. Its made completely from pallet wood and is held together with glue and dowels which cant be seen due to the corner pieces.
Feel free to check out the build video on my YouTube channel and if you'd like to make your own then more detailed instructions will follow.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Pencil and rule
- Hand plane (or power planer)
- Combination square
- Rip saw and crosscut saw (or table saw/circular saw etc.)
- Brace and 8mm bit (or drill)
- Coping saw (or scroll saw)
- Marking gauge
- Plough plane (or a small chisel, 5mm or so or table saw)
- Rebate plane
- Mallet and chisel
- Dowel plate (or buy some 8mm dowels)
- Small hammer
- Flush cut saw
- A few lengths of pallet wood
- Wood glue
- Wood finish (I used Danish oil)
- Tape (to mark depth of holes)
Step 2: Preparing the Wood
This box was made completely with pallet wood, even the dowels. Like many people who use pallets I have a big pile of wood just lying around waiting for me to try and make something with it. I knew the sizes I wanted so I tried my best to find the right sizes of wood. The only panel I had to glue together was the bottom.
With the wood sourced I then went on to planing it down and getting a decent surface to work with. I simply used a smoothing plane with the wood clamped down to my bench. You could also use a power planer or a drum sander or even just hand sand it. Others would also just leave the wood rough, it depends entirely what kind of look you're going for.
Step 3: Making the Bottom Panel
Before I talk about the rest of the cuts I thought I should tackle the bottom panel first. I knew that one piece of pallet wood wouldn't be able to span the width needed so I had to glue two pieces together. Once they're cut to the right length I had to put them into my vice and take full length shavings off them with a plane, making sure to keep the plane at a right angle to the face of the board.
This takes some practice when you first start out and to be honest I still mess it up on occasion! Though much less than I used to. Once the sides of the two boards are straight you can glue them up overnight using some wood glue and then plane it flat and smooth.
Step 4: Cutting the Rest of the Pieces
I've included a little diagram of the cuts in case you wish to try this out yourself. When doing the cuts along the length of the board the combination square is your best friend. Simply set it up to the measurement desired and slide it along the piece of wood, all the time keeping a pencil on the end of the rule to draw a long straight line. I then clamped it down tightly and used a rip saw to cut all the way down the line. A table saw or circular saw or even a jigsaw could also be used.
Step 5: Cutting Out the Handle
The position and shape of the handle is entirely up to the maker, I just measured to the centre of the side piece and freehand drew a curve. With an 8mm bit in the brace I drilled into one corner of the handle, then I took my coping saw apart, put the blade through the hole and re assembled it. It was then just a case of cutting out the shape and finishing it off with a curved file and some sandpaper.
I traced the shape of the first handle onto the other piece of wood.
Step 6: Making the Dado
I used a frame clamp to temporarily hold the sides together whilst marking up how far the dado would be from the edge of the wood. This distance is really up to the maker but I went with about 1.5cm or so. After that was marked on every piece all I had to do then was make the dado. To do this I used an old plough plane which I acquired recently and is in fact now one of my favourite tools! You could also achieve the same effect with a small chisel or some dado blades on a table saw.
Step 7: Cutting the Rebate on the Bottom Board
Using the marking gauge I cut a line where I wanted to cut the rebate. This of course had to be the same thickness or ideally slightly thinner than the dado cut into the other pieces. When the lines were marked I just used a thin bladed saw to cut along them from both directions. Its then just a case of popping out the waste, either with your hands or a chisel and then finishing off the rebate with a rebate plane.
Step 8: First Glue Up
This first glue up isn't 100% necessary but I find it helps to improve accuracy, at least for me. Generally a glue joint from end grain to the face of another panel is very weak but in this case I was doing it just so that the pieces stay together and aligned when performing the next step.
Step 9: Making and Inserting the Dowels
When the glue dried I took my brace and 8mm bit to make 2 holes in each side piece going into the handle pieces. I used a piece of tape to mark how deep I wanted the drill bit to go, just to make sure the holes weren't too deep or too shallow.
With all the holes drilled I could move onto making the dowels. This simply involves splitting a small piece of wood with a chisel, carving it down to a rough size and then hammering it through a metal plate with a hole in it. This hole is exactly the right size so once the wood is hammered through you end up with a nice round dowel. You could of course just buy some 8mm dowels or whittle some wood down with a knife or chisel to get the right shape.
Step 10: Cutting the Dowels and Attaching the Corner Pieces
When the glue is dried from the dowels you can cut them off with a flush cut saw, its really not too important to make these cuts neat but rather make them flush as they'll be covered up. I had a little bit of squaring and sanding to do to the corners of the box before I attached the other pieces.
This is when the most complicated and slightly annoying glue up occurs. I found the best way was to glue the corner pieces at the ends of the lengths to start off with, taking time to make sure they're in the right place and then clamping them. After that I just glued the other corner pieces to them and the box using some smaller clamps and eventually some long clamps just to make sure it all stayed together.
Step 11: Planing and Sanding the Box
When the glue dries and the box emerges from that glue up, if you're anything like me you'll have to do some planing and sanding to get it up to scratch. I planed the end grain of the corner pieces to reveal some really lovely patterns as you can see in the photos. Its wonderful that even something as ordinary as pallet wood can produce such interesting results. I then went over the whole thing with some fine grit sandpaper.
Step 12: Finishing the Box
You could use whatever finish you wanted really, I went with Danish Oil as I love the finish it produces. The grain is really revealed in the pallet wood and yes of course it has some imperfections, some nail holes and plenty of knots. The challenge and also the pleasure of pallet wood is bringing out those imperfections and making features of them.
I hope you enjoyed this instructable and if you did please give the Timber Anew Facebook Page a like to keep up with future and past projects. Thanks a lot for checking it out.