I’ve always wanted to make one of these, they have a classic, timeless look and can be used for anything. The bottom of this box is attached flat to the sides, using screws. I’ve never liked that and most of my projects use a different approach – bottoms are secured from sides or rest on rails. This box, however, is a replica of many other projects and if that works for other people including the Army – it’ll work for me too. Most of the screws used in this box don’t go into end grain – it’s usually edge or face grain. Using that rule made the box structurally strong.
I started with cutting sides and upright slats to length, using my circular saw jig. I gave them a quick sanding and eased all the edges a bit. Next, I clamped pieces in my Superjaws, pre-drilled and screwed together. The boards I used were cupped a little, but clamps helped during the assembly a lot. That was cheating and it should be avoided if possible … alright?
So the corner slats were secured with 3 screws on the face side and another 2 screws on the backside. I know it’s a lot of screws, but sometimes you need to make sure it won’t go anywhere. Once the short sides were done, I screwed them into the long ones, using longer screws than the last time.
It’s shown in the picture above, how carefully I chose the grain direction for the uprights. The grain changes throughout each piece, which actually helped to make stronger sides. Long sides were not screwed directly into the short ones, but into the uprights instead. I guess that was their purpose in this build as the sides were made of a single board. The next day I cut timber for the top and the bottom, again, using my circular saw jig. Timber was cupped, but I used the right approach this time – I ripped all the boards in half which made them look almost flat. I should have done that for the sides, but I learn as I go.
I cut stringers to width, planed the edges and did the sanding. Actually, the stringers and the handles were exactly the same, I only selected the grain for the handles very carefully as they will deal with weights and pulls.
I installed the handles first, then the bottom slats, bottom stringers, flipped the box over, laid out the top slats and fixed the top stringers.
For the bottom stringers, I used 1 screw for each slat – for the lid 2 screws. That way it should stay square if the slats lose their moisture and create gaps over time. I finished the box with just 1 coat of water-based clear varnish, it gave it a very subtle, natural, spruce-like look.
The box was ready for the hinges the next day. I chose cranked flush hinges, with a brass finish, they looked similar to screws and didn’t overwhelm the light colour of the box. They weren’t exactly the highest quality and probably the lid wouldn’t close if I hadn’t corrected the countersunk depth of all of the holes again. Once the hinges were ready to go, I cut recesses on the box. I used a combination of chisels, rasps, files and my router as well. Then I chamfered one of the edges to perfectly fit the inner side of the hinges. I also chamfered the lid in 2 spots, to accommodate the knuckles.
I installed the hinges on the lid first, pre-drilling holes and only using a hand screwdriver to drive delicate screws. Next, I screwed it to the base. The lid could be closed which confirmed that everything went as planned. There was still more hardware to be installed.
When the catches were delivered I installed them straight away. I pre-drilled holes and secured the catches with supplied screws. They looked good when aligned with hinges at the back and stringers on the top and the bottom.
The lid arm came last. I pre-drilled holes in the lid and on the corresponding side. The screws were too long so I had to drive them partially, to cut the thread, remove them, grind the tips off and then drive them back, fully.
The arm can be fully extended and it stays locked in that position. It works very well and looks like the rest of the hardware, although they all came from different shops and manufacturers. This project took a while to complete but it’s one of my favourite builds and I like to show it off. Dimensions are fully customised to my needs, same as the hardware and the finish. As always, a good project to learn new skills and to have some fun from the building process.