Wednesday 13 May 2015

How I Make a Packaging Box

Inspired by a packaging box Tom Fidgen made in his online community I thought it would be a good idea to make one.

Also it is a great side project to bridge the time between thinking and making.

So, here is mine.

Hello Tom. If you will read this I would like to let you know that I followed your call to make a box.
But, even if I have copied your design it has got a special purpose. Wait and see!

For all who are not familiar with the mentioned video and blog post - don't worry about it (or have a look at an unplugged life).
I will make a small simple box. And maybe you will follow it.

Before we will start, just an information. I will skip my project report this week. Not because their isn't any progress, but because I won't like to bore you with cutting and dimensioning details.
I'll come back to it next week.

So, here we go.

Stock preparation

As for every project some stock is needed.
My box will be made from pine (mostly). The bottom will be some poplar plywood. And some splines will be made from oak.


It really doesn't matter which dimensions the box will have. I guess it will work in any dimension.
I would adjust the material thickness if the box grows.

Sides, Front&Back, Top

In my case it will be a very small box, so first of all I dimensioned the stock to thickness. It is just about 6 mm.
The length and the width will be cut during the build.

Length = 222 mm
Width = 55 mm
Height = 45 mm


It will be a simple box for packaging something. I'll use rabbet joints to connect the side and the end pieces. The joints will get some splines to increase their rigidity.
The top will be a sliding lid sitting in some grooves. The bottom will sit in grooves too.


Starting with the sides. The inside of the box has to be 210 mm when the box is finished.
So we have to add 6 mm on every end for the rabbets. Means 222 mm..

Next step is to cut the side pieces to length and to establish a 6 mm wide and 3 mm deep rabbet on both ends.

Now the end pieces have to be cut. The box will be 55 mm wide.(outside). So we have to dimension the pieces to 49 mm length.

Great! It looks almost like a box.

Next the piece will be cut to width. The overall height of the box will be 45 mm.
Therefore a line will be scribed on every piece from the reference edge.
Now we can shoot the boards to width on the shooting board.
Keep in mind that the end pieces for the front has to 6 mm  shorter so that the lid can slide into the grooves.

Time To Groove

A 3 mm groove will be established 3 mm away from the top. It would be a good idea to do this from the bottom too. It makes things a bit easier, because it will be just one plane setting.

Making some grooves

Rabbets and bottom grooves done

All that done you can put all the pieces together and you have got your box.
If all parts fits well,  I cut the bottom from a piece of poplar ply and have fitted it to the bottom grooves.

First dry fit

Last thing to do is a lid. And that's pretty easy too. Take a piece of 6mm thickness and cut a 3 mm deep rabbet along the two sides and one end. Now the lid will fit into the top grooves and will be leveled with the top edges of the box.

Lid done

Everything sits well and the box is square? 
Then glue the parts together. That is pretty straight forward.
A couple of clamps, even for a small box.

Clamping for glue up

After glue up, the lid has to be finally fitted to the box. Some light shavings and it will go into the grooves smoothly.

Fitting the lid after gluing the parts

As a lot of discussion were started about small smoothers within the last days and weeks I thought it would be a trendy idea to use my No. 3 for final finishing.

Smoothing the surfaces


In the original box design splines were used to give the box a bit more rigidity. Additionally it is a nice accent.
I have done two splines at every corner.

Starting with laying out the position of the kerfs. In my case it is 1,5 cm from every edge.

Layout the kerf positions

After layout it is just sawing down a kerf at the marked corners. A tenon saw will do the job. 

Making some kerfs

Don't use your finest because you will some room for the splines.

Kerfs made

I have cut some splines from oak. Accidentally I have got some off cuts from another project :-) 

Fitting splines

I have fitted every spline to a corresponding kerf. Don't mix them up.

All splines done
All splines set? Ready for glue up. Prepare your tools.

Glue up preparation

You will need the hammer for driving home the splines. 
As soon as the glue is dried you can trim the splines. I'm using a flush cut saw for this.

Flush cutting the splines
By the way. My flush cut saw is a Japanese model which I have bought for a few bucks at ALDI.

Flush cut saw

 It was a set of a handle and two blades for about 5 to 7 Euro. At the time I've bought it I wasn't sure if I need one. But now I'm using it for tasks like this.

Splines after flush cutting

All splines sawn down. Just a little bit of trimming with a block left to do.

Trimming with a block plane

The Lid

The box is nearly done. Just one thing is left to do. We need a little fingerpull in the lid so that we can open it. I had carved that with a gauge.

I started to make a knife line as a registration mark.

Registration mark

Then I've deepened that with a straight chisel.

Deepen w. a chisel

And now I could carve to that line.

Carving the pull

The Box

That's it folks. Here is the completed box.

Final Box

It looks pretty nice and even better as a card board box.
As mentioned, mine will be for packaging purposes.
What I will pack into such a small box? Guess what.

Guess what is inside

Why I've done this? Wait and see!

What's next?

Next week I will come back to the project work. Until then I guess I will have finally cut most of the parts for the Mid-Century Table.
And maybe I will have got some first results about the Garden Lantern.

Stay tuned!


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