Tips and Techniques


Box Instructions ~ Tom Young

Described here is one way to make a small box. This box is made from the wood of the fern tree. The knob is turned from a blackwood pen blank. The box is 3 inches in diameter by 2 1/2 inches deep.
I begin with a blank between centers and turn a cylinder to about 3 1/2 by 4 inches. I use a band saw to cut a 1/2 inch piece to use as a tenon for the lid. Re-mount the blank between centers and turn tenons on each end to be held in a chuck. Use the band saw to separate the top from the bottom. I mark the grain alignment in case the pieces become separated while drying.
box3 Shown are the three pieces needed for the box. The top, bottom, and a piece for the tenon. Make the tenon about 1/2 inch thick out of a separate piece. A separate tenon improves grain alignment.
Mount the bottom in a chuck and hollow out the inside for drying. I typically leave the sides about 1/2 inch thick. Place the pieces on a shelf and allow time for them to dry and stabilize.
box5 Mount the top in a chuck and square the bottom face. Turn a recess for the tenon. I usually turn it about 1/8 to 3/16 inches deep. Make certain the recess is parallel to the outside. Sand the bottom, outside edge. Keep the lid mounted in the chuck.
I use a face plate with a waste block to turn the tenon. I use double face turning tape to attached the tenon to the waste block.
box7 Use another waste block between the tenon and the tail stock and tighten the tail stock. Keep the tension on for a few minutes to allow the tenon blank to stick to the double sided tape.
Square the face of the tenon blank and measure the diameter of the recess in the lid. Turn the diameter of the tenon to fit the recess. Lightly sand the outside of the tenon. Remove the tenon from the waste block.
box9 Re-mount the top on the head stock and glue in the tenon. Use the tail stock and a waste block for tension until the glue is dry.
Turn and shape the inside of the lid as desired. I typically leave a nub in the center for a bit more thickness where the knob will go. Sand the face and inside of the top before removing from the chuck.
box11 Mount the bottom of the box in a chuck and remove some of the inside.
Roughly shape the outside of the box.
box13 Square the face and turn the inside of the box to match the outside shape. Turn the diameter to match the tenon on the lid. Check the fit often. When snug, sand the face and inside.
Place the lid on the box. It should fit snugly. I put a piece of paper towel between the two pieces to make the fit tight. Turn and sand the outside of the box and lid.
box15 Turn some beads or grooves to camouflage the joint. An alternative is to burn some lines.
Measure the thickness of the lid. I use masking tape to show the depth of the hole. Drill a 3/32 inch hole for the knob.
box17 I use a pen blank to make the knob. Turn a 3/32 inch tenon to fit in the hole in the lid.
Use a 3/32 wrench to measure the size of the tenon.
box19 Turn the knob and sand as much as you can. Part it off the pen blank.
Re-mount the box on the lathe and glue in the knob. Use the tail stock for pressure.
box21 Sand the top of the knob. The box is now finished except for the bottom. Remove the box from the chuck.
Measure and mark the depth of the box. Mount a waste block on a face place and turn a tenon to fit the inside of the box. Tighten the tail stock for support. Turn and sand the bottom of the box.
box23 The lid and box are now complete. Apply the finish of your choice.
The finished 3 x 2 1/2 inch box.
Updated January 6, 2008