Question on the Sequence of Steps in Building a Box

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by MikeB posted 02-04-2011 06:40 AM 3224 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MikeB's profile


18 posts in 2872 days

02-04-2011 06:40 AM


I am building a simple box for my daughter and wanted some advice about the benefits and drawbacks of the order of some of the final steps. The box will be similar to the pictured box (taken from the recent cover of a Lee Valley catalog): it will have a hinged top (Brusso JB-101 stop hinges), inlay on five sides, side handles, and a full mortise lock. It is made from half-inch cherry and I plan to finish it using using Christian Becksvoort's oil and varnish finish recipe.

I am at the stage where I have assembled and glued up a closed box, applied the inlay banding and sanded it flush with the surrounding wood, and routed the box edges with a round over bit. Here are the major remaining steps I need to take (I think):

A. Cut open the box
B. Install the hinges
C. Install full mortise lock
D. Install the handles
E. Glue rails on inside face of front and back for a removable tray
F. Sand outside surfaces for finish
G. Sand inside surfaces for finish
H. Apply finish to outside of box
I. Apply finish to inside of box
J. Cover the bottom of box with felt

Obviously some steps have to precede others (the box needs to be cut open before you can install the hinges and lock and do any interior work), but there is a wide variety of approaches even taking that into account. For example, should I finish the outside before it is cut or wait until after? Install hinges and lock before finishing or after? Etc.

Any thoughts and suggestions are gratefully appreciated.



10 replies so far

View Don's profile


517 posts in 3102 days

#1 posted 02-04-2011 08:33 AM

I would do most of the sanding before I cut it open so that it’s sanded consistantly. If you cut it open first it’s easier to oversand the top or the bottom and end up with edges that don’t align very well. I would do the final sanding, like the highest grit or 2, after cutting it open since it’s easy to get minor scratches on it while doing the cutting.

I would install all the hardware and then remove it before doing the final sanding since it’s easy to get some minor scratches while your cutting the mortises and holes . It’s also much easier to sand and finish without the hardware attached. Once it’s completely finished I would reinstall the hardware.

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3189 days

#2 posted 02-04-2011 09:24 AM

I always sand the inside to final(step G) BEFORE assembly.

I heard just a few days ago about doing some initial finish before assembly. It may help prevent problems with glue smear. I may try that.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2658 posts in 2951 days

#3 posted 02-04-2011 04:33 PM

I also sand the inside before assembly and I finish the outside of the box before cutting the lid off. Very little touch up required and zero finish on the inside. (Required for the cedar boxes I make)

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View MikeB's profile


18 posts in 2872 days

#4 posted 02-05-2011 02:52 AM

Thanks guys. Good idea about installing hardware, then removing it, finishing the box, and then reinstalling it. Next time I’ll remember to sand the inside before assembly!

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3317 days

#5 posted 02-05-2011 03:36 AM

my boxes i sometimes Finnish the inside too before assembly. Also after cutting open the box sand the top flat and the top of the open box flat as well, the part where the blade ran through to cut the top away. This just makes for a better mating surface when putting the lid back on ( almost seamless ). Look at the pentagon box I did for reference. keep us posted.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View MikeB's profile


18 posts in 2872 days

#6 posted 02-10-2011 06:52 AM

Here is the outside of the box. I still have some work to do on the inside and will post those pics later.

Thanks for the advice!!

View Don's profile


517 posts in 3102 days

#7 posted 02-10-2011 07:58 AM

Looking really sweet!

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View MikeB's profile


18 posts in 2872 days

#8 posted 02-12-2011 04:21 AM

Here’s the inside.

Thanks again for all the help!

View Don's profile


517 posts in 3102 days

#9 posted 02-12-2011 05:59 AM

Very nice!

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View RandyMorter's profile


228 posts in 2719 days

#10 posted 02-16-2011 06:54 PM

Nice job!

-- Randy Morter, Phoenix, AZ

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics