As a woodworker, I love it when I can use the beauty of wood to turn ordinary household items into something extraordinary.Take the common box of tissues, for example. A simple wooden cover can transform a drab box into a thing of beauty.
Tissue box covers make great gifts, and they are a great way to use the hoard of small off cuts with cool figure and/or color that I save from bigger projects. I even glue leftover veneer onto 1/4-in multi-ply plywood to make tissue box stock. If you go this route, skip the first two steps that involve resawing and planing the boards. I used both veneered and solid stock in the photos for this article.
The box dimensions I use are designed to fit over most tissue boxes including Kleenex brand and most generics. If you have a favorite brand, be sure to measure the box and adjust the dimensions as needed. It’s best to have a slightly snug fit so the cardboard box stays inside its wooden cover when carried.
Here’s how to make ‘em.
A 3/4-in. thick x 5-1/2-in. wide x 30-in. long board will yield enough parts for two boxes. An 18-in board will give you 4 sides and two tops. You can even go as short as 12-in. for the four sides of one box and use a contrasting wood for the top. Cutting the sides from the same board helps insure a good grain and color match on all four sides of the box.
Resaw the board in half.
Plane the resawn boards down to 1/4-in. thickness. I like to use a sled to plane thin stock. The sled is made from a length of 3/4-in. plywood with a 1/4-in. thick stop glued on the end. Make light passes to avoid tearout.
Cut the box sides to length (5-1/4-in.). A well-tuned miter gauge and stop insure square cuts and identical lengths. Cut the lid stock to 5-in. x 5-in. squares.
Next, angle the tablesaw blade to 45-degrees. Cut the miters on each box side. Use a stop to insure the mitered sides are exactly 5-1/4-in. wide. Set up your miter gauge to rip cut the miters on the box sides. You may be tempted to rip the mitered edges on the long boards before crosscutting, but the thin stock and knife-edge miter makes it difficult to get the second clean straight miters that are essential to a seamless look on the box. Trust me, it’s best to make these cuts individually.
Lay the box pieces face-side up on your bench. Arrange the sides with an eye towards a good grain flow around the corners. Butt the edges together so there are no gaps and secure across the joint with several pieces of masking tape. I prefer the standard blue painter’s tape (not the kind for delicate surfaces) as it provides the right amount of grip without tearing out grain when it’s removed.
Flip the assembly over and epoxy the inside edges of the miters. Use a slow set epoxy so you have plenty of time to get everything lined up just right. I like epoxy because it’s incredibly strong, is gap filling and only requires slight clamp pressure.
Fold the side assembly together, glue and tape the last joint. Inspect the joints to make sure they are tight. If necessary, use a small clamp to close any gaps. Be sure to use wax paper under the clamp heads so the clamps won’t get epoxied to the box. Make sure the top edges are all lined up. Check the box for square. Use a slow setting epoxy, not the 2-minute stuff you find at hardware stores. The last thing you want is for the epoxy to set before you have the box assembled. Remove the tape after the epoxy sets and lightly sand with 150-grit to remove epoxy squeeze out.
Cut 1/4-in. wide by 1/8-in. deep rabbets on the underside of the top. A feather board insures a consistent depth. It’s best to cut the rabbets a little under a 1/4-in. and test fit the top. You want a snug but not a tight fit. If the rabbet needs to be a little wider, adjust the fence and cut again until the fit is right.
Attach the lid using epoxy. An old gallon milk jug filled with water provides plenty of clamping pressure. After the epoxy sets sand the edge of the top flush with the sides.
Return to the router table and rout rabbets on the top and bottom edges of the box. The rabbets should be just a hair shy of 1/8-in. x 1/8-in. so the ebony banding will stand slightly proud. Go slow to avoid tear out.
Epoxy 1/8-in. x 1/8-in. strips of ebony into the rabbets. Secure with tape. Use butt joints on the corners and run the ebony a bit long on three sides. Cut the last piece to fit. There’s no need to miter these joints as the black ebony makes the butt joints almost invisible. I buy my ebony in 1/8-in. thick boards from Rockler Hardware and rip the strips on the tablesaw.
Cutting the hole in the top can be a bit tricky. Make it simple and build a jig for the lid opening. I use the top of an old Kleenex box to trace the opening on a 5-in. x 5-in. piece of 1/2-in. multi-ply plywood. Make sure the piece is slightly larger than the box top. Carefully cut the opening with a jigsaw and sand smooth with a drum sander. Attach sides to the jig so it fits easily over the box. Secure the jig to the top by wedging shims on the sides or using double stick tape on the box lid. Drill pilot holes large enough for your jigsaw blade to pass through.
Rough cut the opening with a fine tooth blade in a jigsaw leaving 1-/16-in. for the finish cut.
Finish cut the opening with a top-bearing flush trim bit (pattern bit) and a router. Sand the box to 220-grit. Finish the boxes with a few coats of satin spray lacquer.
That box of tissues on your desk or counter will never look the same.
1/8” ebony #89484
Related Video: Make a Tissue Box Cover
Photos provided by: Dave Munkittrick
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