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Nested Finger-Jointed Card Boxes


My son bought a collection of cardgames recently. They were second hand, and did not come with any sort of a storage box. So, he asked me if I could make something suitable.

Oh and this was a rush project, as he was leaving for the summer two days after he asked me to build this. So quick and simple are the guiding principles for this project. I threw it together mostly in one evening, with some extra work done the next morning.

The cards themselves are pretty compact, but the instruction booklet (which you can see underneath them in the photo) was pretty large. I tried mocking out a few layouts on the bench, trying to visualize how to build a box that would be large enough, but not huge. In addition to quick, I did want this project to be compact and light!

Eventually I realized that if I folded the instruction booklet I could have this compact arrangement. The instructions booklet was already creased, so I was not damaging anything.

I grabbed some suitable boards from my stash for this project. These happened to be elm boards. They were almost a full inch thick, so I resawed them in half, which gave me more material than I needed for the two boxes that I was planning on making.

I planed the boards down to about 1/4" in thickness, jointed one edge and then ripped them to final width on the table saw.

I was looking for inside dimensions of six inches long by three-and-a-half inches wide. So I added a half inch to both those dimensions to allow for the thickness of the stock, and cut out the pieces for the first box.

I then pulled out my Screw Advance Box Joint Jig for making the boxes. I built this a few years ago based on Matthias Wandel's plans. Whenever I use it, I'm always amazed at how quickly and accurately I can knock out a set of finger joints (box joints).

One challenge with this jig is that it is hard to securely hold short pieces. I get around this by fitting in a spacer, as is shown here, to help distribute the clamping pressure and hold all the pieces. Matthias has addressed this in one of his recent projects, but I have not yet made that addition to my own jig.

I wanted to add a divider, to separate the instructions from the card games, so I ran a narrow dado on the narrow ends of the box. This is sized to hold a 1/8" piece of plywood.

I then glued a basic oak plywood base onto the box.

I then got to do it all over again. I took measurements from this box and then made another box. The idea is that the first box is the bottom. The cards and instructions fit into it. The next box is size to slip over the first box and act as a lid. I did not want to fuss with either hinges or catches or any hardware like that. Of course, making a snug fitting box as a lid is still not exactly trivial!

If I trusted myself (and my measurements) a bit more, I could have cut out both boxes at once, and cut both of them on the box joint jig at the same time. Maybe next time I'll try that.

The previous mentioned divider was then cut out and fitted into the bottom box. I did not bother using glue, as a friction fit was tight enough.

The final construction detail was to had a pair of "stops" inside the lid. The bottom box was intentionally left short, so that the cards stick out of the bottom. This makes it easier to put them in and pull them out of the box. But I did not want the lid to then rest on the cards and potentially crush them. So I cut out a few narrow pieces of wood which I fitted and glued inside the top box at the ends. When putting the lid on the bottom these stops would rest on top of the end pieces of the bottom. (This is awkward to explain, but hopefully clear enough.)

I added some labels to the boxes using the toner transfer method. This is a fun and easy way to add personalization to the boxes to make them even more custom in their styling.

Several coats of spray lacquer where then applied to finish this project.

Finally, here are a few photos of the finished project, showing how the two boxes slide/nest together, and how the card games and instructions fit inside the box.


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See Also:

Dollhouse Bookcase

Theo's Castle

Marble Racetrack