Spalted Maple Lift Lid Box

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Project by WWilson posted 08-09-2010 03:45 AM 2142 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This box was a present for one of college friends who now lives in Germany. The wedding is in Germany and unfortunately, I am not able to attend. I made this for he and his bride to commemorate their special day.

Box Sides: Cherry
Top Panel: Spalted Maple
Keeper Strips & Handles: Black Walnut
Bottom: 1/4” ply (get the good stuff from Woodcraft, etc. It is definitely worth the few extra $$)

2 coats Danish Oil (hand rubbed)

Length: 8 3/8”
Width: 5 5/8”
Height: 3”

Sides: 3/8” thick.

-Spalted Maple Top
- Lift lid w/ keeper strips & handles

This was my first attempt at half lap joints. I actually got the idea for this type of joint from FWW #201 (“The right drawer for your project”). That article got me thinking about using something other than keyed miters for my boxes. I did all the joinery on the router table and have to say it came out really good. I added the pins for extra strength and for some aesthetic nuance.

The dowels are just hardware store grade dowel. In retrospect I should have either bought Walnut dowel or a dowel plate to make my own. I had to use what I had on hand but next time I will keep that in mind. The dowels were trimmed up with a low angle block plane. Worked great and left a very nice surface.

I would like to thank Matt Kenney from FWW for inspiring me to use keeper strips on this box. I saw some videos of him making some boxes that used this style lid and thought I would give it a try. The fit is excellent. I will definitely make more boxes with this style lid.

The recesses in the sides were cut by hand with a chisel. You can see the marks and I make no apologies for that. I call it character… When I cut the handles into the lid I decided they needed the entire 3/8” gluing area. That drove the need to make cut outs in the keeper strips so the lid would close. Didn’t find that little baby until I tried to close it up for the first time… Ah, yes planning or lack thereof. At any rate I recovered and I think it came out pretty good.

What I Learned / Things to Consider
1.) When making box sides with grooves in them (for the lid, keeper strip, bottom, etc), make sure you make at least 5. Use the extra one as your guide / quick set up for next time. Oh yeah, when you sand off the marks on the outside of the box, this extra piece will save you from cutting the lid off in the wrong place (and possibly ruining an otherwise perfect lid – not that I did that or anything….). This is CHEAP INSURANCE (and will really speed up your set up time for the next box you make like this)!

2.) I glued the top panel into a small rabbet cut into the inside of the lid. Not sure if wood movement is going to get me on this one. Consider wood movement before you get to cutting.

3.) Use hand planes as much as you can. I said this in my last posting and it’s worth saying again. The handles were “rounded” with my low angle block plane. Yeah it doesn’t look like a router did the job but that’s the point – small details that tell you it is hand made. Keep your tools sharp. Sharp tools are happy tools.

4.) 3/8” thick sides seems just about right for small boxes like this. I will continue to use this thickness because it doesn’t make the box feel too heavy but gives ample structural integrity.

Thanks for looking.

7 comments so far

View WoodenFrog's profile


2737 posts in 2003 days

#1 posted 08-09-2010 04:02 AM

Good Looking Box! Cool details on the Box build.
Thanks for sharing!

-- Robert B. Sabina, Ohio.....

View scrappy's profile


3506 posts in 2520 days

#2 posted 08-09-2010 08:03 AM

Great box and a great story to go with it. Thanks for all the info on “how to” and “how not to” haha

Nice design and wonderful choice of woods. I do agree, maybe walnut plugs to make them a highlight item.

Keep it up.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 2154 days

#3 posted 08-09-2010 12:56 PM

Good looking box there. Good blog with what you did and what you learned.

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View FatScratch's profile


189 posts in 2392 days

#4 posted 08-09-2010 02:02 PM

The box looks great. I appreciate all the detail you wrote about it; it got me thinking a little more for future projects.

View Wolffarmer's profile


403 posts in 2327 days

#5 posted 08-09-2010 08:26 PM

Great looking box. I have been thinking about doing a pegged corner box next. Am not yet brave enough to go from 1/2 to 3/8 inch. Might have to jump in with both feet. After I get my present project done which is on the semi massive scale.


-- That was not wormy wood when I started working on it.

View cwdance1's profile


1147 posts in 2349 days

#6 posted 08-09-2010 10:43 PM

Great job, beautiful wood

View Woodbutcher3's profile


385 posts in 1976 days

#7 posted 01-28-2012 09:50 PM

I like the way you folded the grain around the corner in the picture that shows the dowels.

-- Rod ~ There's never enough time to finish a project, but there's always time to start another one.

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