Lidded box project

Some months ago I bought a number of project accessories from Turners retreat. I was primarily after bottle stopper bits, eg the rubbery bits that form the seal. But I ended up buying a bottle opener end piece. With which I made my brother a bottle opener from a piece of beach that came from our childhood home.I also bought a silver box hinge. Basicaly 2 silver rings attached at a hinge that can be glued to the top and bottom of a turned box and provide it a nice opening mechanism.

I tried making a box not long after I got the hinge. However by the time I’d turned my selected piece down to a cylinder it was too narrow for the rings. So I carried on intending to make a box with a a lid that was a push fit over the base.

That failed fairly badly, mostly because of inexperience and doing things in the wrong order. I found myself with a lid piece that did not align straight with the body, and I gave up on it in disgust.

I had occasionally found the hinge sat on one of my workbenches and again considered making something, and yet I never seemed to have any stock that looked suitable. And I didn’t really have a plan for what to make, and so it has sat gathering dust for rather longer than I had intended.

Then last week, I decided after making my wine bottle coaster, that I should get back into making proper plans and designs to follow during construction. So I measured the rings of the hinge mechanism and used that measurement to start a drawing of a simple box design to finally make use of it. I decided that I would sketch a 1:1 scale image and take my measurements direct from the page.


design sketch

With sketch and measurements in hand I went looking through what limited wood stock I have for a piece to use. I eventually settled on a piece of oak that I was given by Kat’s father last year when we visited him in France.

Unfortunately it was pretty much green when he cut it into a block for me, and I should probably have turned it much sooner. As it has dried it had warped and cracked in places. And I almost gave up on the idea for lack of suitable stock. But instead I decided that the point of the exercise was to realise a design from paper into wood, and a few cracks in the final piece were not important. And so I continued.

Now I should probably have taken some in progress pictures, however the main period of activity on this project coincided with my phone being on charge in the house. So I only have pictures from after the original shaping was done.

The process was relatively simple in concept. Turn the stock between centres down to a cylinder with enough space at each end to turn a tenon. Shape the whole outside profile and reduce the area that will be the join between top and bottom to the correct diameter for the ringed hinge.

At this point I looked at my design and I had put in some parrallel lines to be cut just above and below the hinge as an accent. Looking at the piece on the lathe I almost decided not to bother as it looked pretty good without. However I decided again that the point was to follow the design I’d drawn. And I would trust in that initial idea rather than shy away from it.

That done… completely sand and finish the exterior.


outside profile done

Then use a narrow parting tool to cut the top away from the base. Then remount the top by the tenon at it’s end and hollow the lid section. I used my new spindle gouge and rounded scraper for this.
Once that was complete I parted the top off, then reduced what was left at the tenon end to provide a mount point that would fit inside the hollowed lid. So that I could turn it around and use my tailstock to pin it in place whilst I finished most of the lid, down to a small nub where the tailstock touched. This I cut off with a chisel ( and stupidly in the process managed to jab the really very sharp chisel into my finger… Ouch. I ended up gripping the lid gentle in my four jaw chuck around the recess that the ring would fit over. In order to let me properly finish the lid.


finishing the top

I then effectively repeated this process for the main body. The main difficulty was this was a much deeper hollowing job that I have attempted before. And try as I might I struggled with vibration at the end furthest from chuck.
I very nearly blew the whole thing as a lapse in concentration when withdrawing my spindle gouge from a hollowing cut caused it to catch on the rim. Knocking a small section out… I might have cursed slightly.
Fortunately it wasn’t that bad of a catch, and the nature of the ringed hinge meant the damage would be mostly hidden.

Through a combination of spindle gouge and scraper, I finally reached the depth I was aiming for.
Then I discovered that sanding at that depth is also not easy. I could possibly of spent more time making up sticks with sandpaper glued on. But I settled for mostly smoothing what my fingers could reach and figuring people won’t be able to tell how good or bad the rest is, because they won’t be able to reach either :-).

The final thing was to glue the metal rings to the top and bottom and leave it to dry. Once again I used gorilla glue, and despite trying to be extra stingy on the amount I used, I still used too much. And it foamed up in places around the silver hinge. However, it wasn’t too bad to clean this up.

And so the finished piece:


lidded box


lidded box from above

not sure how clear it is from these photo’s but I did line up the top and bottom so that the grain is aligned, most notably seen by the crack that runs from lid to part way into the main body



I did spend some time thinking about what I might actually put in this lidded box. But tried not to worry about it too much, I had a vague idea that it might hold some pens, though in the end I wasn’t able to make it quite deep enough for the average pen to fit. But no matter, it will just have to hold *small* pens…


lidded box with pens