We wanted to make a really simple decorative box or case for a nutcracker set we found at a barn sale this summer. This is the first box or case that we have ever made so it was definitely a learning experience. It is made from walnut and some old pieces of maple flooring. The bottom is also lined with a fake velvet we picked up at the fabric store atop a piece of foam that was cut to house the nutcracker and picks.
Make sure you watch the video, as it shows a bit more of each of the steps.
Download and Print the FREE plans (w/images) from Instructables or read the step-by-step instructions located below the video.
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Step 1: Cutting the Wood to Size
The very first thing we did was to size all the pieces of walnut that we wanted to use for the box. These pieces were planed and jointed down to about 3/8″ thick and a little over 1″ wide. The amount you need will depend on the size box or case that you are making and the size board you start with. Our case is 5.5″ x 8″. You’ll want to make sure that you make enough for the sides, front, back and the top.
Step 2: Joining the Box
The box was assembled using a rabbet joint on the ends. We achieved this by butting a one piece up against our miter gauge and then sliding the piece we wanted the rabbet on flush in front of it. This gave us the depth of rabbet we wanted. Then we just passed it over the blade a few times which was set at roughly half the depth of the thickness of the wood. Then we added a more narrow rabbet along what would eventually be the bottom of the box to allow for a thin MDF bottom later on.
Step 3: Assembling the Box
Each of the joints were glued and then clamped. We also spent some time making sure everything was square with a small machinists square.
Step 4: Beginning of the Lid
With some of the other strips we had prepped we began to make the top or what will be part of the lid. These are the same size strips that were used for the side. The are glued up and clamped and then left to dry. Once they were fully dried, we squared it up on the table saw.
Step 5: Cutting the Maple for the Lid
We had some old scrap pieces of maple flooring that we thought would work as a neat accent to the walnut. We trimmed off the tongue and groove and then follow the same process to achieve the proper thickness that we used when preparing the walnut. Then we glued and clamped to wider pieces to the ends of the walnut panel we had already made.
Step 6: The Bottom of the Box
While the glue was drying on our lid panel, we took some time to install the lid. This is just a piece of MDF or hardboard that we cut a thin rabbet into around the edge. This was then glued into place and clamped with some spring clamps.
Step 7: Cutting and Reassembling the Lid Panel
We wanted to make the lid a little bit more unique, so we decided to move the maple pieces more toward the middle and then use a strip of walnut between them. To do this, we found the center of the panel and then measure 1/2″ off to each side of it. Then, we passed it through the table saw on those two lines and we were left with a 1″ strip of walnut. Then it was just a matter of flipping everything around so that the maple strips were in the middle, divided by the leftover walnut strip. Of course, this was then glued and clamped.
Step 8: Finishing The Lid
Once the glue had dried from the previous step we ran the panel over the belt sander. Since we don’t have a thickness planer, this seemed like the best option. It worked out okay, but did require a bit more fine sanding in the end. To clean it up a little more we hit it with the random orbital sander and then a block sander with some 220-grit on it. We attached the lid with just some glue and clamps, making sure to leave a little bit of the lid hanging over in all directions.
Step 9: Final Outer Shaping
Once the glue was dried from the previous step, we cutoff the overhanging material from the lid. We cut it off within about 1/8 of an inch or so the base of the box. Then, we sanded it flush with the sides on the belt sander and then cleaned up all the corners creating a small round-over with a small plane and a sanding block.
Step 10: Releasing the Lid
When cutting off the lid, we actually cut it down a little further than what the original lid was. This makes the lid seem thicker and it created a kind of cool design where the maple seems to hang over the sides. To cut the lid off, we set the blade shallow, about 1/16 of an inch higher than the thickness of the sides of the box. Then we passed it over the blade slowly, making sure to keep the box against the fence. The safest way to do this is to cut ONLY 3 SIDES first and then tape all of the sides you have cut with tape. This is so that when you make the final cut, the box will not fall in on itself which would most likely cause some kickback. I’m not sure where I picked up this tip, but it makes a lot of sense and it’s better to be safe than sorry, I always say.
Step 11: Fixing Mistakes
If when you cut the lid off it didn’t turn out so well, don’t fret. We picked up yet another tip from some source I can’t recall, yet again. If there are some mistake, where say, the kerf caught the box and caused a little chip out. You can fix this by chamfering all the edged on both the box itself and the lid. It makes a huge difference and looks really nice.
Step 12: Adding A Finish
Before adding the finish we test fit the hinges (very small hinges) and drilled all of the corresponding holes. Simple enough. Then we removed the hinges and added a fast-dry spray clear coat.
Step 13: Cutting the Foam
The initial idea was for each of the pieces, the nutcracker and 3 picks, to have their own slots. This didn’t work out so well, but I’ll get to that. Basically, the foam was just cut to size to fit in the box and then the edges were rounded over a bit on the belt sander, which worked surprisingly well. Then I laid out the nutcracker set and outlined them in sharpie. Then I cut out what I had marked. Everything was going perfect until the next step.
Step 14: Adding the Fake Velvet
One of the main issues that arose was when we tried to glue the fabric AND pull it through the slots that were cut for the picks. We just couldn’t get it through fast enough. To remedy this, we peeled the fabric off and just cut a bigger slot that all of the picks could rest in together. Simple fix, though not exactly how we wanted it.
To attach the fabric we just used a standard general spray adhesive. We sprayed both the back of the fabric and the foam, waited about 15 seconds and then mated them up, making sure to quickly form the material down into all the crevices. We let it dry for a few minutes and then flipped it over, tucked all the excess fabric underneath and then glued it down. The only thing left to do was pop into the box.
Step 15: Reattaching the Hinges
This is easy enough. Just put them back on using the holes you had drilled earlier.
Step 16: All Done!
That’s it. The project is a lot more simple than it may look. We had some problems throughout making this, but I think that we learned a lot of valuable lessons. It definitely made us want to try making some more boxes and some more methods, which there are plenty of online.
We hope you enjoyed this DIY project and the video that goes along with it. If you have any questions or comments please let us know, we’d be more than happy to help you out. Thanks for checking out this Waylight project.