Andy Standing uses scraps to make this attractive box
The pile of offcuts I used
... and edge, making it easier to saw
Re-sawing the offcuts into thinner sections on the bandsaw
Ripping the boards to width
The tablesaw is tilted to 45 degrees for the mitres
Set the cutter projection to the correct thickness
Machine the rebate on the bottom edge of all four boards
Marking positions for the biscuits in the centre of each board
Carefully cutting the biscuit slots
Next, apply glue to each joint and the biscuit slots
With the box assembled and clamped, check the diagonal measurements are equal lots
Two pieces butt-jointed for the top board glued and clamped tightly
Cleaning up the board with a random orbital sander
I used some 1.5mm stained boxwood lines for the decorative inlays
The 1.5mm diameter router cutter used for the inlay line
Set the side fence on the router to 30mm from the cutter
Use a piece of inlay on the depth setting turret to set the precise depth
Hold the router by both the base and the fence - you may want to practice on a scrap
The router table is fitted with a bearing-guided chamfer cutter
Starting at an end, machine all four sides in an anti-clockwise direction
Tap the inlays gently into the lightly glued groove
Invert the top and use a chisel to trim the ends of the lines precisely
Use a cabinet scraper to clean up the top of the box
Position the box centrally on the inverted lid and mark the corners
Cut a pair of bars to length and drill and countersink them
Screw the bars in position up against the marked corners
Cutting a ply panel for the base of the decorative box. Fit the panel in the glued rebate and secure with panel pins. The box is now ready for finishing. I finished mine with Danish oil and a final layer of wax (PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDY STANDING)
When faced with a pile of short but thick offcuts you might think that the best place for them would be the woodburner, but actually these pieces are ideal for boxmaking. You will need a bandsaw to re-saw them into thinner sections and some clamps for making up wider panels. However, with a few scraps and a little imagination, it is surprising what you can come up with.
A pile of offcuts; these are ideal for boxmaking.
Start the project by planing an accurate face...
... and edge. This will make it much easier to re-saw the timber.
Using a bandsaw, re-saw the offcuts into thinner sections. After each cut return the offcut to the planer and true up the face before taking the next cut.
Once your boards are cut and sanded, rip them to width.
The box is to be jointed with mitres strengthened with biscuits, so tilt your tablesaw to 45° and cut the four boards to length.
The base of the box is a piece of 4mm thick ply, but any sheet material will do. It is to sit in a rebate so fit your router table with a rebate, or straight cutter and, using a small piece of the base board, set the cutter projection to its thickness. The height of the cutter should be two-thirds of the thickness of the side.
Machine the rebate on the bottom edge of all four boards.
Mark the positions for the biscuits in the centre of each board. One size '0' biscuit is used for each joint.
Now you can carefully cut the joints for the box.
Apply some glue to each joint and the biscuit slots.
Assemble the box and clamp it up in a frame clamp, or a pair, if necessary. Check that the diagonal measurements are equal to ensure that the box is square.
To make up a board for the top of the project, you may need to joint two narrower pieces. Use a butt joint and clamp up tight until the glue has cured.
Clean up the board with a random orbit sander.
Now you can trim the top of the box to size.
To decorate the box I am going to inlay some 1.5mm stained boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)
To inlay a 1.5mm line on the top you need a 1.5mm diameter router cutter.
For this design simply set the side fence on the router 30mm from the cutter. There is no need to mark out the top.
To set the precise cutting depth to suit the line, firstly put the router on a flat surface and plunge the cutter so that it is just touching the surface. Now take a piece of the inlay line and place it on the top of the depth setting turret. Wind the setting rod down so that it sandwiches the inlay and lock the setting. Release the router, remove the line and you have set the precise depth for the cut.
It can be a little tricky routing on a small box top with a tiny cutter. You have to hold the router by its base and its fence to make sure that it does not tip when it gets to the edge of the board or wander off line. Keep the bit plunged at all times.
It is worth practising on a scrap board first.
A chamfer is cut on the underside of the lid, so fit your router table with a bearing-guided chamfer cutter...
... and machine all four sides. Make sure that you start on one of the ends and work round in an anti-clockwise direction so that you end up machining a long side. This avoids any break out.
To install the line into the groove, you can simply put a tiny amount of glue into it and then gently tap the line into place with a hammer. However, lines, being timber, can vary in width so you may need to adjust their width with a little abrasive paper.
Ensure to leave the lines overlong in this instance.
Now you can invert the top and use a chisel to trim the ends of the lines precisely.
You may need to do a little cleaning up on the top after installing the lines. If you use abrasive paper you will contaminate the timber around the lines with black dust which gets into the grain and causes the top to look grey. To avoid this use a cabinet scraper which will produce shavings rather than dust and preserves the sharpness of the lines.
The box lid just lifts off. It is not hinged, so it needs a pair of bars on the underside to both locate it on the box and also help it to stay flat and resist any tendency to warp. Invert the lid and lie it on the bench. Position the box centrally on it and mark the corners with a pencil.
Cut a pair of bars to length and drill and countersink them. Make the holes slightly overlarge for the screws to allow the lid a little movement.
Screw in position up against the marked corners.
Finally make the ply panel for the base. Measure the rebate and cut a piece of board to fit.
Put a bead of glue around the rebate, insert the panel and secure with a few panel pins.
The box is now ready to receive your chosen finish.
Protect the box with the finish of your choice. I chose Danish oil and applied several coats finishing with a final layer of wax for a soft sheen.