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Woodworking with P. Michael Henderson


Making a Basic Jewelry Box

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Boxes are a good woodworking project. They are good learning projects, requiring design, accuracy, and joinery - and they don't take a lot of wood. In fact, you can often use off-cuts from other projects.

And they make good gifts for family members.

There are many, many ways to make a box, limited only by your imagination. For this tutorial, I had to choose one style, and since it's a beginner's box, I chose a fairly simple design. But, as you will see, even a simple box has a lot of steps.

To put the box together, you can use a variety of joinery techniques, with dovetails being a popular choice. However, I cannot include dovetails in this tutorial because it would become a very long tutorial. I'm going to use a fairly simple glued miter joint. I have tutorials on dovetails so if you want to do dovetails, please see one of those tutorials.

Miter joints have the advantage of simplicity and are "clean". That is, the wood flows around the corner, and if you cut the wood properly, the grain flows around the corners.

But let's get into making a box. I chose some scrap figured walnut that I had around the shop. One piece was 3/4" thick, nearly 8" wide and about 24" long. I cut that piece in half to give me two pieces about 3 3/4" wide. This is a bit narrower than I'd prefer. I like to use 4" sides - just looks better and gives more storage space.

I had another piece of figured walnut, 3/4" thick, about 3" wide and about 24" long. I re-sawed that piece to get two pieces about 1/4" thick, about 3" wide and 24" long. I glued those two pieces together to use for the top of the box. I would prefer that the top be thicker but that's what I had as scrap wood so I'm going to work with it.

I'm doing this box for this tutorial. If I wanted to make a "show piece" I'd choose one long piece of wood for the sides so that the grain would match on three corners. And I'd have a thicker top. But I'm going with scrap that I have in the shop.

Just to give you an idea of where we're going, here's the finished product from the outside.

And here's a view with the top open, showing the sliding tray inside, and the hinges.

The box and tray use mitered corners, and the grain of the wood on the body of the box flows around two of the corners. Like this:

There's a lot to do so let's get started. Here's the wood we're starting with.

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