A year and a half ago I found myself at a local bar with a bunch of my buddies. As I nonchalantly guzzled a few Bud Lights, I glanced over and saw the most beautiful girl I’ve ever laid eyes on standing by herself. Being the big bubbly idiot I am, I walked up to her and started a conversation.
Flash forward a year an a half -- I’ve found that striking up this conversation is the best decision I’ve ever made. Two golden retrievers, hundreds of memories, and one engagement ring later, that girl is now my bride-to-be.
My fiance Sara is turning 30, and since the week we met, she’s been asking me about a jewelry box. Entering her third decade on this planet seems like the perfect opportunity to build a jewelry box -- and of course, I’d love to show you how to build one too. So let’s get to it; here’s my step-by-step guide on how to make a jewelry box.
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Step 1: Break Down your Materials
Start out by milling down your stock for the build. For this project, I used 1/2″ and 3/4″ stock. The wood I used was recycled from an old TV Stand, so don’t be afraid to repurpose wood you already have (especially if it’s expensive).This is one project where it’s important to be selective with your grain patterns, making sure the grains match well for a solid finished product. These grains should be carefully matched for the box case, lid, and drawer fronts.
Step 2: Glue Up the Panels
Begin gluing up your milled panels to match the box case. I chose to use one continuous glue up, and miter it so it has a grain match the whole way around for a sharp, clean look. For this step you’ll also want to make sure you have as smooth of a glue seam as possible -- hiding it really helps create a seamless design.
Step 3: Cut Joinery
We’re going to make a really solid and artistic piece by using miters in assembly. Start by cutting the miters for the carcass then relieving the back panel. Cut the faux drawer slot and the integral shelf.
Step 4: Rough Cut the Shelf & Drawer Fronts
Measure the interior of the integral drawer. From there you’ll want to cut the shelf to size so it fits snug, not tight. Then do the same with your faux drawer front. Be sure to recognize your reveal on the front -- don’t make the same mistake I did in the video.
Step 5: Fit the Drawer Front Spacing
Next, begin evenly-spacing your drawer fronts. I used a shim and hand planes in order to get the spacing perfect before I dove into the drawer joinery. The half-blind dovetails allow for spacing before they’re joined, making your life easier.
Step 6: Cutting the Drawer Parts & Joinery (Half Blind Dovetails)
For this project, I used half-blind dovetail drawers because I love the contrasting look of the dovetails and the lighter wood. I took extra time to make sure the alignment and spacing for the pins. This attention to detail allowed the drawers to perfectly align with the center pin.
Step 7: Cut the Drawer’s Side Rails
Before you glue up your joinery, you’re going to want to make sure you cut the joinery for the slides. It’s much easier before the box is glued up, and this way you don’t have to worry about doing a plunge cut in the drawer.
Step 8: Join The Drawer Slides
For this project, I used wooden drawer slides to keep it looking classic and timeless. So for the drawers, I used 1/4″ x 1/4″ slides that I embedded into the box sides and used paste wax to keep them nice and smooth for sliding.
Step 9: Glue Up Drawers
Next, we need to glue up the drawers so that they can, you know, hold jewelry. Gluing up the drawers is simple because we’ve already flocked the inside of the drawers. When gluing, I tried not to worry too much about the squeeze-out. That being said, I still kept it as neat as possible.
Step 10: Cut Stock For the Lid
For the lid, I used 1/2″ x 1 1/4″ stock. Cut the miters first, making sure the box is to size. I then chamfered the insides of the reveal and cut the relief for the glass insert. I then took the time to hand sand the inside profile before glue up, just to makes things a bit simpler to assemble.
Step 11: Cut the Drawer Pulls
Once the drawers were assembled, I cut the custom pulls. For the pulls, I used some soft brass I had left over from the TV stand. I printed a scaled template of the pulls from the computer to make sure everything was perfect. I then use my bandsaw and horizontal belt sander to shape and smooth the brass. After it was sized, I resawed it into the 3 separate pulls and sanded them flat, buffing to finish them out.
Step 12: Route Out the Drawer Pull Inset
To route the pulls, I used my marking knife and cut the insert with my palm router. I chiseled the edges to keep it nice and tight.
Step 13: Cut & Divide the Faux Drawer
For the faux drawer, I cut the top dividers and miter the outside edges using my shooting board. From there I cut everything inside to size, measuring off the box itself. I used CA glue to keep all of the dividers in place.
Step 14: Sand & Apply Finish, Then Flock
Once the dividers were in, I sanded the whole box to 220 grit by hand. To seal the oily wenge, I used some thinned shellac. After the first coat dried, I applied the flocking to the interior drawers and the faux top.
Once the flocking dried after 24 hours and 4 coats of shellac were applied, I sanded the box one more time. Once that was completed, I applied a coat of paste wax to sheen it up and make it nice and smooth.
Step 15: Add the Hardware
Once everything was dry, I epoxied in all the hardware for the drawers. Because I shaped them with a dovetail, it should be plenty sturdy and should not need additional reinforcement. I then pre-drilled the holes and thread the holes with the provided hardware. To fish her off, I installed the glass top and held it in place with a thin bead of clear silicone.
And that’s a wrap on a custom jewelry box almost as beautiful as the girl I’m giving it to.
For more custom builds like learning how to make a jewelry box, check out these other projects!
All ideas are my own. For more information, check out my disclosure page.
Want to try this build out for yourself? Download the digital plan now for step-by-step instructions, measurements, and a detailed look at how to punch this project in the face.