How to Build a Wooden Box

Building a wooden box is a cornerstone of basic carpentry. Here's what you'll need:

  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Corner clamps
  • A-clamps
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Safety glasses
  • One 6-foot (183-centimeter) long, 1-by-10-inch (19-by-235-millimeter) board
  • One 3-foot (91-centimeter) long, 1-by-2-inch (19-by-38-millimeter) board
  • Wood glue
  • One box of 4d nails

Here's what to do:

  1. Measure and draw four 10-inch (25.4-centimeter) squares and two 8.5-by-10-inch (21.6-by-25.4-centimeter) rectangles on your 1-by-10-inch (19-by-235-millimeter) board. Always measure twice before you cut.
  2. Clamp the board to your work surface with the A-clamps. The part you're cutting should extend beyond the table.
  3. Cut the board where marked. Keep the saw perpendicular to the board as you cut.
  4. Apply a thin layer of glue to the 8.5-inch (21.6-centimeter) edge of one rectangle. Position this piece against one edge of a square. Make sure the boards are flush against each other. Clamp the boards together using corner clamps.
  5. Nail the boards together with three nails: one at each corner and one in the middle.
  6. Repeat this process with the other 8.5-inch (21.6-centimeter) rectangle and another square. Attach the two nailed-together pieces to form a four-sided box [source: Lowe's Creative Ideas].
  7. Let the glue dry. Place the open part of the box on top of a square of wood. With a pencil, trace a line around the inside of the box onto the wood. This will be the lid.
  8. Cut your 1-by-2-inch (19-by-38 millimeter) board into two 6.5-inch (16.5-centimeter) lengths and two 8.5-inch (21.6-centimeter) lengths.
  9. Glue the 6.5-inch (16.5-centimeter) pieces onto the shorter lines you traced on the lid and the 8.5-inch (21.6-centimeter) pieces onto the longer lines. This creates a lip that will hold the lid on top of the box [source: WWGOA].
  10. Attach the final 10-inch (25.4-centimeter) square to the bottom of your box using glue, nails and clamps, as above.

Important notes:

  • Always wear safety goggles when working with tools.
  • The imperial unit dimensions listed don't seem to add up because they're given in nominal lumber dimensions (i.e., the names of standard cuts of lumber). Nominal lumber dimensions are different than the actual dimensions of the lumber that you'll buy [source: Lumber Talk]. (The metric dimensions do add up.) Don't worry -- these instructions take the difference into account.