Post Office Door Box

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Project by WWilson posted 12-23-2010 05:45 AM 4051 views 9 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project was completed for a man in New Hampshire. He had an original Post Office Box door he wanted turned into a bank. His design direction to me was to make it look like a bank box. I wasn’t really sure what that meant but thought it sounded cool. We went back and forth a few times with sketches regarding what specific design details he wanted and agreed on this design.

I would like to give a special thank you to one of our fellow LJ’s: Dennis “closetguy”. I was inspired by one of his designs for a bank door box. Dennis does incredible work and I strongly suggest you check out his projects and web page


100% Cherry

2 coats Minwax stain (Jacobean 2750)
3 coats Minwax Polyurethane

Length: 16” (base 17”)
Width: 6 1/2” (base 7 1/2”)
Height: 8” overall

Sides & Base: just under 3/4” thick

- Dovetail joinery (cut with Leigh D4R Dovetail Jig)
- Original Post Office Box Door
- Brass bezel for coin opening in back of box

This project taught me a lot. It was my first time using the Leigh jig to do real dovetails. I had screwed around with it before to try and get the hang of how it works. I only had enough cherry to do it once for this project so I couldn’t afford to screw it up.

The jig worked like a charm and I am happy to say my dovetails came out really good.

The back of the bank (opposite the door) has a fancy brass bezel to receive the coins. I didn’t want to burn a pic on that but did want to mention I centered (vertically) the slot in the back panel using Phi (1.618). I did the layout with Phi and it came out really good. I will definitely use this proportion again.

What I Learned / Things to Consider
1.) If you use biscuits to help in assembling a panel glue up, put them at least 1 x t away from the edge of the panel. If you don’t you could run the risk of dovetailing through them and having part of a biscuit exposed. Not a cosmetic enhancement – I assure you of this one! Not that I did this or anything…

2.) No matter how careful you are when routing dovetails you will get some amount of tear out. If you absolutely cannot have that then figure out how to back up the cut. Practice and find some kind of sacrificial material to sandwich your workpiece in between.

3.) Even the best craftsman make mistakes. I had to “fix” a blown out portion of one of the 1/2 pins on one of the sides. I could have chamfered it but that would have looked like crap. I cut off the ~1/8” or so of damage, selected the best color / grain match I had on hand and then “spliced /.glued” the new piece in. I used my low angle block plane (which I sharpened just before this project and wow do sharp planes work good!!!) and feathered the side flush with the assembly.

The moral of point #3 is mistakes happen. Accept it. Deal with it the best you can and move on. I am very proud of my repair because I could hardly notice it when the project was done and that means that others would have an even harder time seeing my oops!

4.) This project was fun because I used a combination of hand sketches & Google Sketch up to finalize the design. I worked out all the details before I cut the first piece. That was cool and really forced me to “figure it out” before I went into the shop. I still had to punt a few times – like when I routed the stopped groove (another first for me….) to hold the end panel in place. Didn’t want to blow thru the sides with the groove so I had to trial and error that one to make it fit.

5.) Cut your dovetails a little bit proud. I did this and then trimmed them flush with my low angle block plane and it worked beautifully. Make sure your plane is sharp, very sharp for this operation. It is a thing of beauty however to create wispy thin shavings. You can connect to your piece in a way that is really hard to describe. Just try it!

Thanks for looking!


6 comments so far

View DrewM's profile


176 posts in 2996 days

#1 posted 12-23-2010 05:58 AM

Nice work, to me half the fun of a project is learning from your mistakes and continuing to hone your skills.

-- Drew, Delaware

View bvdon's profile


482 posts in 3012 days

#2 posted 12-23-2010 08:56 AM

Nice work. Thanks for sharing the tips too.

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3879 days

#3 posted 12-23-2010 03:09 PM

That is neat. I like the long box concept. I had not seen that before.
I need to sharpen my planes.

Good job,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View SgtSnafu's profile


960 posts in 3269 days

#4 posted 12-23-2010 04:19 PM

Very nice looking bank (and very good write up). I really like the way you’ve made the PO Box frame flush with the box… Well done.

Thanks for sharing

-- Scotty - aka... SgtSnafu - Randleman NC

View Woodenwizard's profile


1331 posts in 3040 days

#5 posted 12-23-2010 05:58 PM

Nicely done! I just finished a couple of projects with PO box doors. I still have 9 more to do so your posting has given me some new ideas.


-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4090 days

#6 posted 12-27-2010 06:38 PM

Clean, simple, elegant… let the door shine. Well done Will!

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

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