I’ve made several keepsake boxes over the years. They’re just a simple, handy little project that can be made a thousand ways. But, I’ve never shown how to make a DIY continuous grain keepsake box before, so…today’s the day 🙂
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While browsing the tile section at The Home Depot lately, I ran across some tiles that I liked. Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve played around with tile and marble…remember this marble and walnut platter and this epoxy tray? So I grabbed a couple different shapes to take home and figure out a new way to use them.
I decided that it would be fun to use the tiles as a lid to some little continuous grain keepsake boxes, so this is what I came up with. I made one rectangle (below) and one hexagon (seen above) 🙂
So, let’s get to the how to. I’ve got a quick video and the step by step below.
First, you will need the following:
Board for the box–see step 1 to figure out how much
1/4″ plywood (same size as your tile)
Table saw OR Router
Step 1: Determine Board Size
First, you need to determine what size board you need. I used a 1×6 board. That makes the box about 5 1/2″ tall. If you want a deeper box, choose a wider board.
For length, add up the length of all the sides of your tile and add at least 6″ -10″ just to be safe.
Once I picked my board, I choose the prettiest side. This will be the outside of the box.
Step 2: Cut Dadoes and Top Lip of Keepsake Box
Next, I cut a dado on the board to insert the 1/4″ plywood bottom and a dado at the top of the board to serve as a lip for the tile to sit down into. I used a table saw and a dado blade, but you could also use a standard blade and make several passes or use a router.
I cut a 1/4″ dado, 1/4″ deep about 1/4″ from the bottom of the board and another 1/4″ dado at the top of the board. I made sure to cut this NOT on the prettiest side. This will be the INSIDE of the box.
Step 3: Cut Continuous Grain Keepsake Box Sides
Next, it was time to start cutting the sides. First, I needed to determine my bevel angle. With a rectangle or square tile, your bevel angle is 45 degrees. But with a hexagon, it’s only 30 degrees. I made both with this project, but here, I’m showing the hexagon.
So I adjusted the BEVEL angle on my miter saw to 30 degrees. Note that the MITER angle TWISTS the blade, but the BEVEL angle TILTS the blade. Does that make sense? So I TILTED my blade 30 degrees and left my miter angle square.
Now, to make a continuous grain box, I had to pay careful attention to the side of the board I was cutting. You want to make sure the grain matches all the way around the box. This diagram shows you how the board will be cut.
So, first, I cut the end off the board like shown. I always made sure the LONG SIDES of my cuts were the outside of the board (so not the side with the dadoes).
Then, I used the tile to figure out how long to cut this first board. I placed the tile in the top dado lip so that it was lined up with the end and marked the other end to know how long to cut for the tile to fit.
Then, I cut this at that mark like shown. Notice the long end of the cut is the outside of the board (dadoes are facing up).
I double checked that the side of the tile fits snugly on the top lip dado of this piece, then flipped the board over and cut off the end again at a 30 degree bevel. Be careful to JUST cut the end off…line up the blade so that it doesn’t cut hardly any of the top of the board here…just the bottom part.
Then, I flipped the board over, and used the first piece to mark this board to make another piece the same size. (NOTE: this only applies if all sides are equal.) I continued until I had six equal pieces to make the box. Notice how the grain matches up across the top when they are laid out next to each other.
If your tile sides aren’t the same length–as is the case with a rectangle–each piece isn’t the same length. Each cut should match the length of the next adjacent side of the tile. Here’s a diagram of a rectangle example–notice it alternates between short and long sides to fold up and create a rectangle box. You can see this post on DIY wooden urns for more details.
Step 4: Cut Bottom of Keepsake Box
Before gluing up the box, I had to cut the bottom. I used a small piece of 1/4″ plywood for the bottom. I test fit the pieces together and made sure the tile fit into the top lip. If it does, then the bottom plywood piece should be the same size as the tile to fit into the dadoes cut in step 2. In my case, the tile had some wiggle room when I placed it in, so I traced the tile onto the plywood and cut the sides a little bigger than the lines to give it a tighter fit.
I cut this with my miter saw, but a jig saw also works in this case.
Step 5: Glue Up Continuous Grain Keepsake Box
Once I had my bottom piece cut, I laid my pieces out on the workbench and matched up all the grain. I used painters tape along the joints like shown.
Then I flipped it over and applied wood glue to the joints. I placed the plywood bottom in the dado and wrapped the boards around it like shown. PS forgive the fact that my arm is totally all up in the way in the photo haha.
Then I taped up the end joint and wiped away any excess glue.
Step 6: Attach Handles to Tile Top
I made two boxes for this project…I showed you the making of the hexagon box, and now we switch to showing the rectangle tile haha. I did this for both tiles and both boxes…so the same steps apply to each.
That said, I needed to attach a handle to the tile in order to lift it off the box and place it back on. So I used these Bosch DareDevil carbide tip drill bits to drill holes to attach the hardware. They’re made to easy drill through tile, concrete, metal, and wood so they were perfect to use on these ceramic and marble tiles and with a hex shank, they fit easily into drill.
I used a long pull for the rectangle tile and a little knob for the hexagon tile. For both, I sized the screws that came with the hardware and chose a bit that was SLIGHTLY larger than the screw so that it would fit through the hole.
Then I marked where to drill the holes for the handles.
Then I drilled two holes to attach the hardware like shown. These Bosch DareDevil bits drilled through this marble SUPER EASILY. But, it was a little hard to get the hole started because the bit kept “walking” off the mark–which is typical with a hard, slick surface like marble, metal, etc.
So, I suggest starting to drill VERY SLOWLY until you get a little dimple drilled, then you can increase the drill speed and drill the hole.
Once the hole was drilled (switching back to showing the hexagon tile again haha), I had to use a couple washers on the screw because it was a little too long, but I screwed it into the knob like shown.
Step 7: Finish Keepsake Box
Finally, the last step is finishing the box. Obviously, once the glue is dry, remove the painter’s tape and fill any cracks or places where the joints didn’t seal perfectly with a little putty. Then sand the box really well.
You can paint, stain, wax, whatever you wish. Since I was using walnut, I just applied a furniture wax to bring out the wood grain. Then, it’s finished and ready to store all your keepsakes…or tea bags, or Christmas cards, or jewelry, or whatever in 🙂
I REALLY love this hexagon shaped box. It’s the perfect size to store little notes and cards in. But I think I may use this rectangle box in the bathroom to store some toiletries or tissues in.
Get a good look at that grain pattern that turns around that corner. Pretty cool, right? Continuous grain boxes aren’t difficult to make, you just have to pay attention to the board direction when you’re cutting. But it adds so much cool visual interest, I think!
I hope you enjoyed this DIY continuous grain keepsake box project. It’s a great gift idea and a fun weekend build! If you want to check out some other DIY keepsake box ideas, here’s a few!
And if you want to save this for later, be sure to pin it!
Thanks so much for following along, friends! Until next time, happy building 🙂