How to Build a Rectangular Wooden Box

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Boxes can be made to store wine, house birds or stereo speakers, or to serve as as toolbox. They can be open or have lids.
Woodworking experts join the sides, top and bottom of a rectangular box with intricate dovetail joints, interlocking joints in which the craftsman makes a series of precisely fitting tabs and slots. This type of construction is not suitable for a homemade box in the absence of specialized dovetail equipment. The butt joint, a simple board-against-board connection, is the easiest joint to make for crafting a rectangular box.

Things You'll Need

  • 1-inch-by-12-inch board, 6 feet long
  • Tape measure
  • Carpenter's square
  • Pencil
  • Circular saw
  • 1-inch-by-5-inch board, 8 feet long
  • 2 C-clamps
  • Work bench
  • Drill
  • 5/64-inch drill bit
  • Carpenter's wood glue
  • Helper
  • Hammer
  • Finishing nails, 1 1/2-inch length
  • Safety goggles

Make the Sides and Ends

  • Use the measuring tape and the pencil to mark the 1-inch-by-12-inch board 17 inches from the end. Use the pencil and the carpenter's square to draw a line across the board. Use the circular saw to cut the board at the line. This 17-inch piece is one side of the box.

  • Repeat Step 1 to cut three more sides, each 17 inches long

  • Use the measuring tape and the pencil to mark the 1-inch-by-5-inch board 12 3/4 inches from the end. Use the pencil and the carpenter's square to draw a line across the board at the mark. Use the circular saw to cut the board at the line. This 12 3/4-inch piece is a box end board.

  • Repeat Step 3 to make five more box end boards, each 12 3/4 inches long.

  • Use the measuring tape and pencil to make two marks at either end of a box end board, 3 3/4 inches from the side of the board. Use the pencil and the carpenter's square to draw through the line down the length of the box end board. Use the circular saw to cut the box end board at the line. The width of the box end board should now be 3 3/4 inches.

  • Repeat Step 5 to reduce the width of the other box end boards to 3 3/4 inches.

Assemble the Box

  • Use the drill and the 5/64-inch drill bit to drill pilot holes 3/8 inch from the edge of one of the box side boards, 1 inch from each end. Drill three more holes spaced every 5 inches between the end holes. Drill five more pilot holes on the opposite edge of the board. Repeat this process with one more box side board. Set the drilled boards aside.

  • Use the two C-clamps to secure one undrilled box side to the side of your work bench, with the edge flush to the table surface. Apply carpenter's wood glue to the top edge of the clamped board. Place one of the drilled side boards on the undrilled board with the drill holes touching the glue. Make sure the drilled board edge is even with the clamped board edge. Have a helper hold the board in place. Use the hammer and the finishing nails to attach the drilled side to the clamped side.

  • Have your helper hold one of the undrilled sides upright on the work bench. Apply carpenter's wood glue to the upright edge. Unclamp the two assembled sides. Place the assembled sides over the side your helper is holding. Be sure the pilot holes are facing up. Make sure the sides are flush. Have your helper hold the boards together. Use the hammer and finishing nails to attach the assembled two sides to the third side.

  • Flip the three assembled sides over with the two unglued edges facing up. Apply carpenter's wood glue to both upright edges. Place the other drilled board on top of the glued edges. Move the board until it is even with the other boards. Have your helper hold the board in place. Use the hammer and finishing nails to attach the drilled board to both glued edges.

  • Set the assembled four sides on the work bench with the unglued edges of one end facing up. Place two of the wide end boards and one of the narrow end boards over the upright unglued edges with the narrow board between the two wide boards. Move all three boards until they are tight against each other. Even the three end boards to the four side boards. Have your helper hold the boards in place. Use the pencil to locate pilot holes around the perimeter of the box, 1/2 inch in from the outside edges.
    Place two marks on each board end. Locate marks along the long outside edges of the wide end boards. Locate the marks 1 inch from each end and every 5 inches between the end marks. Remove the boards and use the drill and the 5/64-inch drill bit to drill pilot holes.

  • Apply carpenter's wood glue to all four upright edges of the box sides. Apply glue to the long interior edges of the two wide end boards. Place two of the drilled wide end boards and one of the drilled narrow end boards over the upright glued edges with the narrow board between the two wide boards. Move all three boards close together. Make the end boards even with the four side boards. Have your helper hold the the boards in place. Use the hammer and finishing nails to connect one of the drilled wide end boards first. Attach the other wide end board next, keeping pressure on the narrow end board in the center. Attach the narrow board last. Turn the box over with the four unglued side edges facing up.

  • Use the glue, hammer and finishing nails to attach the remaining two wide end boards and narrow end board to the sides as described in Steps 5 and 6.

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