"Art Box" Tutorial #8: The Handle

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Blog entry by Andy posted 07-16-2009 04:28 AM 20579 reads 26 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: The Medallion Part 8 of "Art Box" Tutorial series Part 9: It all hinges on this. »

Updated 1/15/12

At this point we should have an assembled box, with corner splines, a recess cut into the body for the lid to set down into 3/8”, and a recess for the medallion cut into the lid that is also 3/8” deep, and the medallion cut to fit.
DO NOT glue in the medallion yet!

Next thing is to make the handle.
I like to attach the handle by cutting a mortise in both the handle and the edge of the lid and slipping in a thin strip of wood, aka a spline. The spline is a scrap left over from your corner splines.

Insert a 1/8’’ bit in your table mounted router and cut a slot in the lid and a matching one in the handle blank, about 3/16’’ deep. On the handle, stop your mortise about 3/8’’ from the ends. Now cut a spline to slip into the slot and make it about 3/8’’ shorter than the length of the slot. This will allow you to slide the handle back and forth to position it. If you do much shaping to the handle it may get shorter, maybe on one side more than the other. The wider slot will let you move it back into center of the lid. Ease the edges of your spline with sandpaper to make it easier to slip in and out. Make sure it is narrow enough to let the handle butt up tight to the body.

Here is one ready to mount.

Now you can do some shaping prior to mounting it. Just be careful to watch the ends where you can cut into the mortise, and allow for sanding later on after its mounted.

If you feel like you are close to exposing the mortise or just want a visual reminder, place a piece of tape on the ends of the handle.

We want our handle loose until we are done shaping the seat in the box.
If the handle and its seat dont match up nicely we can always make another if its not glued in.

This picture shows the seat roughed out.
Cut a kerf with a handsaw at each end of the box lip where we marked the seat for our handle. This will prevent the router from tearing out a chunk of wood. You can use a sharp chisel to remove the waste, but I prefer a spiral bit in my table mounted router. Make several shallow passes and clean up the last bit with a chisel and a sanding block. Just get it to where the lid will close all the way. Dont cut all the rim off, leave about 1/8 of the front edge where the handle sits so it will hide the edge of the lid or you will be able to see past and into the box.
Fine sanding can be done later.
You can also do this step with a Dremel or other power tool if you like.

Ready for sanding to fit the handle.

Handle in place after a little more sanding.

Now we will cut the pockets for the box to pivot.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

8 comments so far

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14172 posts in 3982 days

#1 posted 07-16-2009 05:03 AM

very well presented … I’m glad I marked you as a buddy … I’ve learned allot from reading your blogs
thanks for sharing

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View gbear's profile


512 posts in 4099 days

#2 posted 07-16-2009 05:16 AM

Andy…I just wanted to say “Thank you” for all the work you have put into this tutorial. You have done an excellant job that I know it has taken you a lot of time and effort. Thanks again for sharing you talent and knowledge.

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View newTim's profile


607 posts in 3606 days

#3 posted 07-16-2009 05:30 AM

Hey Andy… I really enjoy your blog. Thanks for taking the time to write it up.

-- tim hill

View Andy's profile


1694 posts in 3908 days

#4 posted 07-16-2009 05:36 AM

You are very welcome! Its alot of work,but I enjoy doing it.I hope it is clear and someone can use this info to make a box.I am learning from doing this too.I also anticipate picking up some tricks from some of you.
Thanks again.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6856 posts in 3979 days

#5 posted 07-16-2009 06:36 AM

Hi Andy;

You sure did a good job on this series!

Very, very well done!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Andy's profile


1694 posts in 3908 days

#6 posted 07-18-2009 03:21 PM

On to Chapter 9.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View mousejockey's profile


68 posts in 2942 days

#7 posted 01-03-2011 07:01 PM

First off thanks for making the blog, it looks like a ton of work. But of course I have a question, I didn’t see what you are using for the pins except for the temporary use of nails. What do you use for a permanent pin? I was thinking brazing rod and a plug?? It’s entirely possible that I’ve just overlooked the info. but I’ve looked several times.


View Andy's profile


1694 posts in 3908 days

#8 posted 01-04-2011 06:01 AM

Thank you Myles.
No, your correct, I didnt specify what I used in the tutorial. Sorry about that !
I have covered the same info on other boxes and fielded that question before, but missed putting it in this blog. Doh!
I did go back and add it to this one just now, thanks for catching that.

I typically use 1/8 brazing rod or get small pieces at the hobby shop that are usually in better condition. I have plugged the ends with dowell but you will not be able to freely round the sides over, you will need to use much more care, and you still see the plug, so I quit doing it that way. Its a personal choice.
I look forward to seeing yours, so drop me a note if you wish, so I dont miss it.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

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