I was helping my dad in the garage one day when we came across these walnut boards. The boards were in pretty good shape and the fact that he had forgotten they were up there tells me they have been drying for quite a few years and would be pretty stable to work with. With Christmas fast approaching, I asked if I could use it for a watch box build. He said yes and was happy to see it getting used.
My fiancee (now wife) wanted me to build a watch box for my brother-in-law who is pretty into watches. I had never built or designed anything like this before, (I'm used to working with building lumber) but I was pretty excited to be taking on this new challenge. Sometimes it's nice to switch things up a bit and work with a nicer material and more finesse. This project was a good challenge and it brought me in closer to the realm of actual woodworking.
Some take aways from this build:
Mitered corners on a box are nice but they can definitely be intimidating, especially if you don't have the 45 degree cuts dialed in accurately. The glue-up can be just as frustrating. I found that these sort of half lap joints were a more approachable joint to start with, especially if you're somewhat new to woodworking (like me). You're still dealing with square cuts, if your joints run a little long, you can sand them down flush, and personally I think they look better than a miter joint.
If I build another box similar to this in the future, I would choose plexiglass over real glass. The obvious reason is plexiglass is less likely to break. Another reason is glass is somewhat tricky to score and break along a line. I have about a 50% success rate when it comes to cutting glass. With plexiglass, I am able to cut it on the table saw with a typical blade. If you decide you really want to use real glass, I suggest buying a few backups just in case. Glass is pretty cheap (at Home Depot) compared to plexiglass.
This is the first time I tried assembling the whole box (all six sides) before cutting off the lid, and I will do it that way from now on. It requires a bit more pre-planning, but the box and lid match up perfectly as a result. The cut it possibly a bit more dangerous than typical, so if you aren't comfortable making the cut then don't. But if you take your time you shouldn't have a problem.
And one last thing - the little watch "pucks" that I made for the watches to wrap around are apparently not the best way to support a watch. A viewer left a comment suggesting to use a soft material shaped like a small pillow instead to prevent scratching - something that didn't even cross my mind. To the viewer that left that comment - thank you! I enjoy the feedback and any knowledge that can help me and other learn from my mistakes. That's what this is all about!
Below is a brief step-by-step in image format on how to build this watch box. Enjoy!
I started by planing the boards to thickness, ripping them to their width, and cutting the pieces for the inside box to length.
Then I could start marking out for the half lap joints and cutting them out with the bandsaw.
Once all the joints were cut, I could apply glue and start assembling the inside box.
Once the glue was dry, I could flush up all the corners with the sander.
Next it was time to take measurements and cut the pieces for the outside box to length.
For each of these pieces, I cut two dados (grooves) into them. One dado would accept the glass and the other would accept the box bottom.
Then I could repeat the same process of marking out the locations for the half lap joints on these pieces. Once they were marked out, I could cut them out with the bandsaw.
Next, I could do a dry assembly of the outside box and then measure for the piece of glass I need to cut. I cut the glass a bit short of these measurement to allow for some movement.
With the glass cut to size, I could start gluing up the outside box. I started by gluing together three of the sides, then sliding in the piece of glass, and finally attaching the fourth and final side with glue. The glass is not glued in, it will just "float" inside the grooves.
While the outside box was drying, I cut two more pieces of wood that would make up the bottoms of both boxes. With those cut, I could glue them in the bottom of each box.
While the box bottoms dried, I could start cutting the pieces for the dividers.
With the pieces cut to length, I could mark out the areas that needed to be cut away. I'm not quite sure what this joint is called, but when two intersecting pieces come together, they overlap each other by half their width (watch the video - it will make sense lol). Once I had these areas marked, I could cut away the "waste" with the bandsaw.
Here are the dividers in place. I cut then tight enough that I didn't have to use glue to hold them in place.
At this point, the outside box was dry. I then moved to the table saw to cut away what would become the lid of the box. I made sure I was cutting far enough away from the glass that the blade wouldn't come in contact with it.
With the lid cut off, I could cut four small spacers (one for each corner) to go in the bottom of the outside box. The inside box would sit on these spacers and the tops of both boxes would be flush. Lift the inside box up, and now you have some extra "secret" storage space underneath.
I taped the lid back onto the outside box and installed the hinges.
And finally, I could wipe on some Danish Oil to finish the box off.
This was very enjoyable to make - I learned a lot! In fact, I'm working on a prototype similar to this style that I plan to sell in my online store very soon. If I have them ready for sale you will see a link here (and at the top of the article). If not, I may still be working on it. If you're interested in making this exact box for yourself or someone else, I have a set of downloadable plans and the Sketchup file available here - Downloadable plans! Either way, thanks for checking out this project - I hope you were able to take something away from it.