Need help making a flush lid panel for a box

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Forum topic by GAwoodworker posted 11-27-2016 11:33 PM 1421 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View GAwoodworker's profile


37 posts in 943 days

11-27-2016 11:33 PM

Topic tags/keywords: box panel veneer construction design flush lid

Hello Lumberjock Community! I’ve been doing woodworking for a few years (cutting boards, turning pens, clocks) and have decided to take on a new type of project. A box. Be it a keepsake box, jewelry box, secretary box, valet box. With much inspiration on this site and some books, I have begun designing it. Mitered corners with miter keys, a bottom panel that fits into a routed dado, and a flush top. That is where my issue resides. How do I add a panel (lid) that is flush to the top of the box? I’d like to be able to use this panel with solid pieces of wood as well as veneer on birch plywood. That way the design is interchangeable depending on the materials I have available at the time. I have been using some scrap pine and MDF to practice each step of the build until I perfect it, but have hit a wall on the lid. The picture below (credit to Mike from Mike’s Heirloom Boxes) is a good depiction on what I’d like the lid to look like. Please keep in mind that I am a college student and currently do not have the dough to drop on a biscuit joiner. Any help on box construction and design tips would also be greatly appreciated!!

Thank you and God Bless

9 replies so far

View CL810's profile


3856 posts in 3163 days

#1 posted 11-28-2016 03:24 AM

Check out Boxguy’s blog.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View rwe2156's profile


3134 posts in 1655 days

#2 posted 11-28-2016 02:42 PM

What, specifically is the problem?

If you use veneered ply or MDF then you are basically just edge banding with wood, right?

If you use solid wood then movement of panel can be a problem.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View GAwoodworker's profile


37 posts in 943 days

#3 posted 11-28-2016 03:01 PM

Thanks CL810! I will be sure to check out his blogs.

rwe2156, I’m trying to insert a lid on the box similar to the way I have installed the bottom. I routed a dado and slid the bottom panel in during the glue up. That way the bottom panel is not glued into place, but has room to move. Using this technique, I have a small lip on the bottom of the box between the bottom panel and the sides that are touching the surface below it. I’d like to take the same approach to the top panel of the box (the lid), but would like it to be flush with the top of the sides rather than have that lip. That way when its all glued up, I can cut off the top with the table saw. It gives the appeal of the edge grain of the boards are a border or frame for the lid. Kinda like the picture above

Thanks for the reply guys!

View jerryminer's profile


944 posts in 1616 days

#4 posted 11-28-2016 07:25 PM

You COULD do a dado-and-rabbet joint (like the sketch below)—- but it’s probably overkill unless you want it for alignment. With a plywood or mdf panel, a simple butt joint would be enough.

For a solid wood panel, you may want the dado-and-rabbet, but you should leave a little room for expansion of the panel—-which means a gap at the joint between panel and frame.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View Danpaddles's profile


573 posts in 2486 days

#5 posted 11-28-2016 08:31 PM

When I use solid material for a lid, I just sink it in a bit, let it float loose. Think of the drawing jerryminer posted- but leave a small gap where the top meets the side. Call it a shadow line. It is possible to go for a perfect fit, I guess, and ply or MDF would help to stabilize. But a year or three later- it will not look as stunning as it does in that photo you referenced.

Boxes are fun, I find them addictive. (But I say that about turning projects too!)

-- Dan V. in Indy

View GAwoodworker's profile


37 posts in 943 days

#6 posted 11-28-2016 09:52 PM

Wow jerryminer! That drawing really helps! A picture is worth a thousand words. Thank you for that.

Dan, I’ll be sure to play with the shadow line idea when I’m practicing on my scraps tomorrow. Turning is highly addictive!

What do you all think about using the table saw to cut a groove in the box and the side of the lid and adding a spline between the two? Just a thought. I’ll most likely use jerryminer’s method above.

Thank you for the responses!!

View jerryminer's profile


944 posts in 1616 days

#7 posted 11-29-2016 12:23 AM

The spline idea would work, too. Again, though, with a sold wood panel, you should leave some room for expansion:

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View GAwoodworker's profile


37 posts in 943 days

#8 posted 11-30-2016 02:51 PM

Your pictures are a great help jerryminer! I went for take 3 on the box using scraps to get the design right. It’s gluing up now. I will cut the top off tomorrow and see how it looks. I used your second design with the spline for it. That lid design seems to work well with a veneer panel and the first design with a solid wood panel. It’s getting me excited to finally have a go at it using my nicer lumber! I’ll keep you all posted with the progress over the weeks. I really appreciate the help!

View dalepage's profile


367 posts in 1015 days

#9 posted 11-30-2016 03:42 PM

I’ve done this flush panel a couple of times with good results. My way ends up with a lid, not something that’s built into the box and has to be cut away. However, I’ve done that, too, so that hinges are easier. Not sure if that’s clear.

I don’t miter the corners. Each piece of the border is the length of the edge or end being added to. Sort of a herring bone.

Start with the panel you want. In my case, it’s been bird’s eye maple. Glue on the first border on the edges OR ends only. When that’s dry, crosscut the ends (or edges) of the panel (which now has border on opposing sides) just enough to true it. Now glue the other two opposing pieces to the panel. Yes, I know gluing end grain is tenuous, but unless you’re going to throw the box around or drop it on a concrete floor, there’s not been a problem.

When that’s dry, go to the next layer of the border. Glue the next opposing strips of border, just like before. The corners will overlap in sequence.

On the last layer, make the pieces a little oversize in width. That way, you can get the size perfect to fit the box after it’s made. If you are going to glue the panel onto the box and then rip it away from the box as Jerry Miner shows above with his inset, make it an eighth or so proud of the box sides and then flush cut the overhang to match the box after it’s dry. I don’t mean to talk down to you here.

In this photo, the walnut ends were put on first so that I’d have the edges full length of the lid. I thought that would be more pleasing to the eye. This is bird’s eye and claro walnut, awaiting another layer of border. I’ve used Osage orange (bois d’arc) and padauk with good visual results. Or you could call it good right now and glue it to the box. Make sure you have a little overhang all around to flush cut after it’s dry.

-- Dale

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