Vitamin Boxes

Introduction: Vitamin Boxes

I like to take supplements and it bugs me the way I have about 20 vitamin bottles sitting around on the counter. That, and I've always been fond of little boxes with doors on them.

This will be my first instructable that I will rate "difficult". It's surprising how hard making a simple box turned out to be. I'm sure there are people out there who know how to do this the proper way, but I forged ahead anyway.

a task for a lunatic

Step 1: Supplies

clamps, and jigs, lots of them
some things of various size that you know to be square
small finishing nails 1/2 or 3/4 inch long
light birch plywood 1/4 inch thick (avoid the kind that has been treated with a waterproof sealer (appears shiny))
drill (hand drill preferred)
table saw
wood planer
elmer's glue
water color paints
pencil, brushes
something to be the handles for the doors
wooden dowel
hot melt glue gun

Step 2: Be Respectful Towards the Table Saw

I can't say enough about the need to be very careful around table saws. But let me try.

Treat the table saw with the same fear and reverence you would an angry and powerful diety. Don't ever be casual around it. Turn off the tv, radio, telephone and computer to eliminate distractions while you are working with it. Don't talk to someone else while you are using it.

Always use the rip fence wherever possible. Always use a push stick where possible and always keep your hands well away from the spinning blade. Always be fully conscious of the incredible danger it presents to you. Always use the blade guard. Always wear safety glasses when it is on. Keep your attention fully on the act of cutting the wood and be fully aware of where your fingers are at all times. They need to be well away from the blade, no sudden movements or gestures. Keep long hair tied back and out of the way. Turn the blade off as soon as you are done with the cut. Don't ever leave it running.

While cutting, if the wood won't advance easily. Stop. Turn off the power. Then assess why it won't advance. Maybe try approaching the cut from another side of the wood.

Don't be in a rush. Don't try to use it when you are tired or stressed out.

Having said all that, read carefully the instruction manual that comes with your saw and heed all of its warnings and precautions.

Step 3: Measurements

Determine how tall and how wide you want the box to be. Don't make it so tight that you couldn't easily get your finger in to extract the bottle from the box.

Consider the direction of the grain in the finished cut. Do you want it to go up and down? Or sideways?

Step 4: Set Up the Rip Fence

The rip fence for my particular saw isn't entirely self straightening once it's tightened down. So, I used a t-square to mark a straight line along the surface and then aligned the rip fence to the straight line.

Step 5: Cut Out the Sides of the Box

Heed all the warnings about the table saw in step 2.

Gently guide the wood along the rip fence, keeping your hands as far away as possible.

Turn off the saw as soon as you are done cutting.

Step 6: File the Jaggies

after cutting, there will be some jaggy bits of wood. file those off.

Step 7: Paint the Wood

I like the eclectic look of having each side a slightly different color.

I made an instructable about staining wood with watercolors. You can check it out if you are interested.

It's easier to paint the wood in advance rather than after the box is assembled. However, you'll have to touch up the door paint later, so remember what color you used for the doors.

I recommend Dr. Ph Martin liquid watercolors if you can afford them. But you don't need that, regular watercolors will do just as well.

You'll want to dilute the color into a wash and don't saturate the wood too much so as to avoid warping.

Watercolors used in this way look particularly nice if you do an underpainting in one color and an over painting in a different color. If you're going to do two washes, let the piece dry thoroughly between the coats.

Step 8: Glue Two Sides Together

Use a right angle jig to glue two sides together into a corner.

I heard it said from someone who spoke in a very authoritative tone of voice, that elmers glue will hold wood together stronger than nails or screws will. I've always believed this to be true, so I'll do it here.

Coat one edge with elmer's glue. Line the two sides up into the jig, tighten and let the glue dry.

Step 9: The Third Side Is Trickier

My right angle jig is too large to allow the third side to be glued on.

So, I had to improvise.

Step 10: Mini Right Angle Jig Number 1

My first attempt at making my own mini right angle jig.

I used 4 small steel straps from home depot and two right angle brackets. 8 screws and 8 thumbscrews.

It works, but it's a pita. You have to unscrew all the screws, align the wood in between the four slabs of metal and then tighten it down.

Nice idea, but too much trouble.

Step 11: Easier Right Angle Jig No.2

I turned out to be much easier to just use square wooden block to define the right angles and then clamp the sides to the block.

Step 12: Attach the Third Side

Use the square block and clamps to glue the third side on.

Step 13: Reinforce With Nails

I decided to reinforce the box edges with nails.

I used the hand drill to pre-drill a hole deep enough to hold most of the nail.

The hard part is drilling straight down into the thin plywood without winding up splintering the wood or going out the side sideways.

Just think parallel and go slowly.

Once the hole is drilled, insert the nail and hammer the last bit in.

You don't want to hammer too much of it or you risk splitting the thin wood.

Step 14: Create the Top and Bottom

Because the birch plywood has a bit of a warp to it, and my table saw isn't as perfectly precise as I would like, the boxes aren't perfectly square.

Use a pencil to draw the outlines of the box top and bottom on the wood.

Cut out the top and bottom carefully using the table saw. Heed all the warnings about the dangers of the table saw in step 2.

Step 15: Glue the Top and Bottom Onto It

After painting the top and bottom pieces, attach them to the box with glue and nails.

I used a large rock to weigh down the top while the glue dried.

Step 16: Reinforce Top and Bottom With Nails

When drilling the hole for the nail to go into the top corner, be sure to avoid drilling into the nail on the side that is already there, as it will be in the way.

Step 17: Plane Down the Edges of the Doors

So that the doors swing freely, you'll want to file or plane down their edges a bit.

After planing the edges, you'll need to file off the jaggies and repaint them.

Step 18: Align the Door and Drill Hinge Holes

This is the trickiest part. Totally eyeballed. I don't know a better way.

Fill the box with something to position the door in just the right place. I used the wooden cube and a bunch of scrap pieces as shims.

Clamp the door in place and very carefully drill in a hole that passes through the top and into the door. If the door moves out of place when you are drilling, that means it is off center. Start a new hole and go slowly.

Insert a nail to be the top hinge.

Turn the box over and do the same on the other side to be the bottom hinge.

Step 19: Fashion the Handle

I decided to make handles out of these old fashioned typewriter keys I had.

Cut off 3/4 inch or so of wooden dowel. Paint it. File down the edges if needed.

Drill a hole down through the center of it. Drill some additional shorter holes to allow the glue to grab into it.

Use hot melt glue to attach the typewriter key to the end of the dowel.

Position the door handle where you want it, drill a hole through the door about there and attach the handle with a finishing nail through the door.

Step 20: All Done

Who knew making a simple box could be so difficult?

Clearly I could never get a job in a Chinese factory. Oh well. I hope to get better at this sort of thing with practice.

I think they are kind of cute anyway. Only 15 more to go! A task for a lunatic.

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    7 years ago on Step 15

    Is that a Himalayan salt crystal? It can be any rock right?


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Cute idea. I like it. can never warn too much about table saws! I suffered a kickback injury while making a cedar chest. Wood hadn't cleared blade when I reached down to turn off the saw, and it slammed into my gut like a train! The instructor was impressed that I kept my feet; told me he'd seen big guys laid right out from something like that (guess females can handle more pain). well, not 20 minutes later, everything was tighter than a Scotsman's purse, and I ended up in the ER. It was a month before I could wear anything other than sweats! So warn away! I thin these boxes are very cute, so of course I'll have to try them! Thanks for the posting.

    Eye Poker
    Eye Poker

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Kickback turned a 12x12 piece of MDF into the wooden frisbee of death. It flew over 100 yards.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Ouch! I haven't had a kickback yet. I'm not entirely sure what it is or how it happens. All I know is it is one scary tool.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Kickback is where all the wood hasn't completely cleared the blade. The spinning blade catches it and flings it back at the operator with astounding speed, force, and excruciating pain. That's why you need to make sure the wood is pushed completely past the blade before you take your eyes off it: a lesson I learned all too well. On the plus side, this 10" saw is quite interesting. And if you have no saw at all, the lumber store or home improvement store where you purchase your wood will make the cuts for you, for a small fee.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Yes I really like this cute little saw. It is intended for people who like to make miniatures. But since I have a small apartment, it's just the right size. I clamp it to my kitchen table and away we go. So far I've only used it to cut 1/4 inch plywood. I like it a lot and it's relatively quiet compared to a regular table saw. About as loud as a vacuum cleaner, which is pretty loud I guess, but it's not as bad.


    10 years ago on Step 8

    For those who don't already know, Elmer's makes a great wood glue, too.

    night creature

    Fantastic Instructable! I really like these boxes! I would be tempted to make them, even though I have little woodworking experience, however, I am lacking in a table saw! Also, is the hand drill really necessary? I am pretty handy with my power drill. I would be tempted to make them of different sizes-and, different openings-would give a quirky effect when several are displayed together. I really like the paint effect. Is it difficult to get the color even, though? I have little experience with watercolor, and I would think some areas might "hold" the paint more then others-though, that might be an interesting effect!


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Cool! I'm glad somebody else thinks its a good idea! =) Yes, you could do it without a table saw, but I couldn't! If you know how to cut very square straight lines, no reason you couldn't use some other method for cutting the wood. Even with a table saw, I wound up with some wobblies, so, to each his own tool.

    I used a hand drill because the wood is so thin and easy to go off center and drill out through the sides. You certainly could use a power drill, no doubt, with enough skill.

    Strangely, the wood really likes the watercolor and vice verse. I find that the watercolor tends to be less streaky and stainy than it is on regular paper when it is applied to the soft white birch plywood. You can get really nice effects by layering colors. The photos don't show it, but some of the pieces really glow beautifully. I put down a layer of crimson red paint and then a layer of dark brown paint over that and it looks really amazing - very warm and rich tones. I also got a nice effect from a layer of light orange under a layer of sepia. The watercolor really glows that way.