Boxguy Vs. The Octogan

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Project by Boxguy posted 06-28-2012 05:46 AM 3149 views 9 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Pictured: Two octagonal boxes with pivoting lids anchored in place with a screw in back and a rare earth magnet in front. They are about 4 inches tall and 8 inches side to side. One box is red alder with a figured anegre top. The splined box is curly cherry with white oak sides.

Story: From time to time I have made octagonal boxes. The problem is always the hinges. The short side does not allow for a long enough surface to make a hinge work well. The lid can wiggle and won’t stay aligned as well as I would like. This design solves those problems. The lid swivels and can actually turn far enough so you can access the entire box interior.

Techniques: Of course the eight sides are all cut the same length and the ends are each 22 1/2 degrees. Sizing the bottom is best done by taping the box together with masking tape on the outside then tracing around the inside on your bottom board. Now take a 1/4 in size scrap and re-mark and enlarge each side by 1/4 inch or whatever depth of cut you dadoed into the sides. Don’t try to fit the bottom in too tightly you will just fight the fit when you use your strap clamp to pull the box together after applying glue.

Rather than struggle with the alignment of the screw and the magnets in the top and the bottom, I found it was far easier to just drill through the lid and into the bottom. I filled the hole with a contrasting dowel and sanded it flush. It is a real help when you are opening the box to be able to know which sides have the pivot and the magnet.

As a practical matter I glued on the roughly sized top and shaped it before I cut the lid off. The splines in the one box add strength, but look pretty busy. Sides of about 3/4 of an inch work better because you need room for the screw and the magnets to be embedded.

Critique: The rare earth magnets hold the box in line and worked better than I thought they would. The octagonal form is attractive, but is not too practical for storage. Adding splines calls for building a special jig to cut the slots. I avoided that by just cutting the slot across the whole side and inserting a long spline.

Thanks: As always thanks for looking and a special thanks to those who take time to add comments and make suggestions. Wow, a “Top Three.” Thanks, Lumber Jocks!

-- Big Al in IN

26 comments so far

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 3274 days

#1 posted 06-28-2012 05:56 AM

nice little boxes. Lots of details in these. Great wood choices for the tops and I like the splines.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View Hawaiilad's profile


3289 posts in 3190 days

#2 posted 06-28-2012 08:37 AM

Again you came through with some nice boxes

-- Larry in Hawaii,

View Ken90712's profile


17592 posts in 3358 days

#3 posted 06-28-2012 09:10 AM

Nice job on these and I reall like the wood and the long splines. Very nice!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View marshee's profile


31 posts in 2330 days

#4 posted 06-28-2012 09:19 AM

great job and good selection of wood


View Boxguy's profile


2745 posts in 2437 days

#5 posted 06-28-2012 10:28 AM

Robert, Marshee and others. There is something magical about hearing comments from woodworkers in India, Alaska, California, and Hawaii on a box I made in my shop in a small town in Southern Indiana. Thanks for taking time to make comments and sending them along.

-- Big Al in IN

View Tom Godfrey's profile

Tom Godfrey

488 posts in 2345 days

#6 posted 06-28-2012 10:55 AM

Great job. Keep up the good work. After making a few boxes I decided that wasn’t my cup of tea. Sure glad we have someone like you that seems to love making them.
Indeed a work of art and will be around many years after you are dead and gone. You know that’s a good feeling knowing a part of you will live for many years in your work.
God has blessed you

-- Tom Godfrey Landrum South Carolina (

View Roger's profile


20949 posts in 2973 days

#7 posted 06-28-2012 11:34 AM

Every bit o these are very neat. I like how you did the lid to open. Very nice

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 3956 days

#8 posted 06-28-2012 11:43 AM

Very nice. I favor the long splines. Well done and thanks for sharing them with us.

View dclark1943's profile


270 posts in 2357 days

#9 posted 06-28-2012 01:01 PM

Hey Boxguy ! looks like time well spent in that little shop in southern Indiana ! It’s fun, and rewarding isn’t it? very nicely done friend!

-- Dave, Kansas City

View dustyal's profile


1299 posts in 3644 days

#10 posted 06-28-2012 01:08 PM

I really like these… will have to put on my project list… they would look good sitting on a dresser… my wife likes to keep her clutter organized…

Thanks for posting and taking the time to describe the build.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3036 days

#11 posted 06-28-2012 01:12 PM

I always like to see your work. These are no exceptions. Very nicely done!


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3671 days

#12 posted 06-28-2012 01:15 PM

You do good work Al…
Great Job on these!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Daiku's profile


232 posts in 3077 days

#13 posted 06-28-2012 01:45 PM


I really like the looks of the long splines! Very creative. My only suggestion would be to rotate the lid one more section so that the splines alternate rather than line up with the ones below.

Thanks for posting,

-- Cal Noguchi -

View Mosquito's profile


9486 posts in 2461 days

#14 posted 06-28-2012 01:47 PM

Looks good! I really like the long splines, they’re unique and add a little something too it. Great work.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View a1Jim's profile


117263 posts in 3746 days

#15 posted 06-28-2012 01:51 PM

Cool boxes Big Al

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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