How To Make A Black Box For Photography

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POP Projects is a collection of new and archetype projects from more a century of
Pop Mechanics. Main skills, get tool recommendations, and, most chiefly, build something of your very own.

The box is the well-nigh primal structure: Furniture is boxes with hardware. A house is a large, waterproof box. Once you lot can brand a box, yous can create far greater things. Nosotros asked iii adept woodworkers to build a simple box to run across how each would approach the task. Very differently, it turns out—despite giving them similar design briefs.

The outside dimensions had to be 16x12x8 inches, and they could only employ tools and materials constitute at their local home center. We ended up with three boxes with three distinctive joints—all equally awesome.

These Tools Volition Help

A Box Articulation

box build

Grant Cornett/Haisam Hussein/Ash Bartholomew


Ted Kilcommons

A box joint looks a bit like a dovetail, but you can make information technology with a table saw. Getting it right requires careful layout, only it’s worth the effort. Take your time and you’ll take joinery that’southward strong and bonny. You also get to brand a jig—a custom-made gadget that accurately guides a tool’s cut blade when making repetitive cuts—and use a dado set. Those are two of my favorite things in woodworking.

This box-joint jig allows you lot to mill all the pins and sockets to exactly the same size. It comprises a fence with a key and a notch fastened to a sliding miter approximate. First, though, install the dado gear up into your saw. This box has 1/two-inch pins, so I set upwards a 1/two-inch stack. Enhance the blade to the thickness of your box material—in this case, 3/4 inches—or go a hair deeper if yous’d like to sand the pins affluent afterwards. Hold the contend piece to the sliding miter gauge and cutting a notch in information technology with the dado set. Move the debate over the verbal width of the dado set, attach it to the sliding miter guess, and cut some other notch. You now have a notch, a infinite (called a step-off), and another notch, each exactly 1/two-inch broad. Glue a 1/two-inch x ane/ii-inch ten two-inch key into the far left notch and then information technology extends at least an inch from the fence.

Take hold of an end piece and agree vertically against the fence and upwards tight to the key. Cutting your outset pin. Move the workpiece over, placing the socket you just cutting over the key, and brand some other cut. Continue across the width of the workpiece. You can mill the box’southward bordering side piece the same way, but you need to starting time it and so your first cut creates a socket rather than a pin. Have the finish piece and identify it onto the fundamental in opposite so its pin provides the offset needed. Then barrel the adjoining side slice against it and commencement cutting.

Spread a sparse layer of glue onto the mating surfaces, and work fast to gather the box, 1 corner at a fourth dimension. Clamp together, ensuring everything remains square. Take a clammy fabric and clean up any backlog glue. In one case the gum is cured, clean up the joinery with a palm sander.

To install the lesser, use a router to cut a 3/8-inch wide by 1/2-inch deep rabbet around the inside of the bottom edge. Square the corners of the rabbet by advisedly chopping downwards with a precipitous chisel, and then glue in the bottom.

The Spline

box build

Grant Cornett/Ash Bartholomew

Past Richard Romanski

You tin make this box into something utilitarian or more than upscale depending on the materials you choose. I was able to purchase a quarter sheet of birch plywood from the home centre, which is a handy size format for a minor project like this. I likewise added a lid, making it ideal for storing tools or supplies.

A project similar this is a flake similar edifice model airplanes: You figure out the sequence of steps before you lot start. In this case, that means layout, milling, trimming, associates, and make clean up.

Outset, effigy out how you’ll cut all the pieces from the plywood, and utilize a tabular array saw to factory the blanks. Don’t try to cut anything wider than information technology is long. That’south dangerous—the board can boot back—so use a miter gauge to chop the pieces to length. Once yous have your stack of blanks, trim everything to bodily size on the table saw. Use a decent combination blade so the plywood doesn’t chip out. Adjacent, mill a dado almost the bottom edge of each side piece that will accept the bottom. Position the dado 1/4 inch from the edge and cut information technology three/sixteen-inch deep. Its width depends on the actual thickness of your plywood. Mine was shut to seven/sixteen inch.

Rip the corner posts to width on the table saw, and and then chop them virtually an inch oversize. Y’all’ll trim them and the splines to length after the box is assembled.

Side by side, cut kerfs for the splines in the corner posts and side pieces. Mark the kerf on the cease grain of a post. It should be one/eight inch wide by 5/sixteen inch tall, which is half the width of the spline. Use this layout as a visual reference for setting up the saw. Unless your bract is 1/8 inch thick, you lot’ll need to make multiple passes. Make the outset pass on all four posts, conform the saw’s fence, and and so make additional passes until the kerfs are formed. Repeat with the plywood pieces.

Rip the splines from hardwood stock. To practise this safely, apply a push cake. A push button stick won’t work here—you need to apply downward force and then the thin pieces don’t rattle through. The splines should fit snugly into the kerfs just should too slide freely. If they’re as well tight, they will cause problems when you lot add glue. Chop the splines well-nigh an inch oversize.

Manufacturing plant the bottom and the lid. These look similar in that they both crave a notch in each corner to fit around the posts. You tin can cutting these notches on the tabular array saw, but y’all’ll need to build a sled that allows you to hold the workpiece upright. Y’all’ll as well find that the lesser of the box requires another set of notches to fit around the splines. Cut these with a handsaw.

Do a dry associates (without glue) on a flat surface. This gives you a sense of what issues you might meet when you add glue. When you’re ready, detach the box and spread a thin layer of glue into each groove. Push the spline downwards into the edge; don’t try to slide information technology in from the finish or you’ll squeeze the glue out. Tap the spline affluent with the bottom of each corner. You don’t need to mucilage the bottom. Use clamps to hold everything together, taking intendance not to rack the box out of square.

After the glue has cured, trim the corner posts. You can practice this on the tabular array saw: Make the cutting and then carefully back out the box. To fit the lid you lot’ll need to trim the spline projection with a handsaw.

The Rabbet

box build

Grant Cornett/Ash Bartholomew

By Paul Steiner

I completed the joinery for this box using just a round saw and a directly edge. The box needed a bunch of rabbets, which are two-sided channels milled into the edge of a board (a dado is similar but has iii sides). I could accept cut these with a router, only instead used the circular saw confronting a Speed Square or a shop-fabricated debate and then cleaned upwardly the rabbets with a sharp chisel. This method is perfectly adequate for building cabinet carcasses or drawer boxes.

I cheated a little bit here. I bought 1 ten 10 boards, which have a nominal width of 9 one/4 inches. To continue this box simple, I didn’t bother ripping the boards to viii inches. I just chopped them to length using a Speed Square equally a guide. You tin concord the square in position, or clamp it to the workpiece if that feels more than comfy. Either mode, the square should be get-go from your cutline past aforementioned distance that the saw’s blade is from the edge of its base of operations. Make sure the workpiece is supported so when you exit the cut, the fleck won’t fall and splinter the workpiece.

Cut rabbets in the ends of the side pieces. These are 3/8″ inch deep—half the thickness of the material—and three/four” broad. Set your saw blade’south depth to 3/viii”, and make a exam cutting in a piece of scrap to check information technology’s gear up correctly. Using the same Speed Square setup, brand a cut three/4″ from the border. Motility the foursquare slight toward the end of the board and make another cut. Echo until you’ve removed most of the material, and then clean up the cut with a chisel. Now cutting rabbets forth the bottom edges of the side pieces, just instead of using a speed square every bit a guide, clamp a piece of bit plywood to the workpiece. Brand the first cut 1/2 inch from the edge—that’s the width of the rabbet—and then freehand the remaining cuts. Take care to stay within the outset cutting.

All that’s left is to assemble the box. Spread mucilage on the terminate rabbets, and clamp the pieces together. Drill countersunk pilot holes through the side pieces and into the ends and spike with a couple of screws, making sure yous go along everything foursquare. Finally, mucilage and screw the bottom into place.

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