Sleek Box with a Sliding Lid
Clean, versatile design offers easy access to what’s inside
Synopsis: Thin parts, mitered corners with slender splines, and a smoothly sliding lid with a carved fingerhold are the main features of this clever box. Maker Michael Cullen stresses that careful attention to detail and stock preparation are keys to success. The sliding lid must fit snugly but also have smooth action, which means double and triple milling is needed. Small parts require that you pay close attention to safety as well. The result is a gem of a box.
Some years ago I decided to make a box for my wife, Barbara, to hold some of her favorite pens. My design was inspired by the memory of a simple wooden pencil box with a sliding top that I had as a child. To me, boxes are a beautiful expression of what working in wood is all about. Of all the things I make, nothing else holds as much mystery or evokes as much curiosity as a box. I loved making that box, and I’ve since made many more, in a variety of woods and sizes but all hewing to the same basic design: thin parts, mitered corners with slender splines, and a snug but smoothly sliding lid with a carved fingerhold.
Cut narrow grooves and tiny miters: Because the parts are so thin, I take the utmost care in stock preparation. The lid, in particular, must stay flat over time so it will always slide without binding. Double and even triple-milling is critical to prevent any twisting or cupping. It’s best to use either riftsawn or quartersawn material, especially for the lid. Because the parts are fairly short, I mill them to final thickness in long strips and cut them to length later.
With the stock thicknessed and ripped to width, make the grooves in the sides…