How to Make a Wooden Recipe Box?

In this tech-savvy world, you can save lots of recipes on your smartphones. Sometimes, you also don’t save one because they can be found with just a click on the internet. 

However, if you have a slew of recipes taken from the Food & Wine section of the newspaper or may be passed down from your grandparents, then maybe you need to keep them in a safe place.

And one of the best ways to store these pre-internet culinary treasures is to design and make a simple, yet beautiful box. 

And in this guide, you will understand how to make a recipe box. This project only requires little wood scrapes that you can find around the shop.

The box itself will also have a thumb tab that is hand-carved, making it a unique and practical gift for holidays. 

How to Make a Wooden Recipe Box: Guide for Beginners

Here are the things that you may need;

  • 1/8 inches thick birch plywood
  • 3/8 x 4 inches blond hardwood 


  • This box is specially made for 3 x 5 inches index cards (you can always adjust the size of your choice)
  • You can use any stable wood if those required are not available

Now that you already have all the things that you need, let us start making your own wooden box. The steps are the following:

1. Cut a Groove in the Blank

The front, back, and sides of the box are cut from wood with dimensions of 3/8 x 20 x 4 inches. Cut a groove at the sides of each long blank.

Make sure that the thickness and the width are the same in the bottom and top plywood. 

One pass may be sufficient, so you don’t have to use a dado set. But if you want to groove wider, you may just tap the fence a hair to make a second pass. 

2. Join the Box

If you make a box that is bigger than the recipes or index cards, you don’t need the exact dimensions for the front, back, and sides.

But what matters the most is that the measurement of the front and back should be exactly the same, as well as the two sides. 

You can use a sled on the table saw and utilize a stop block to build identical parts. Cut both sides first using the blade set at 45 degrees, then the front and back.

Although you can easily use a miter saw for this process, a miter sled is better to ensure accuracy and safety. 

3. Assemble the Mitered Boxes

Depending upon your discretion, the mitered boxes can be assembled with clamps or tape.

But if you use tape, the parts will not be susceptible to sliding as well as no glue will squeeze out the box. 

Remember that the top and bottom should be of the same size after cutting the miter.

Once the dimensions of the groove are set, you can apply and spread the glue to the miters.

Make sure that the surface is lightly coated upon the distribution of the glue. 

Also, put a small amount of glue in the center of each groove to ensure that the plywood is secured to avoid rattling. This is definitely safe with plywood though not recommended with a solid top. 

You can then set in place the top and bottom parts and fold the construction until the box closes. Use tape to fasten the box and let it stay for more than an hour. 

4. Remove the Top from the Box

Actually, removing the top of the box can be done in many ways. But in this guide, it is suggested that you use a bandsaw. Perhaps, this is the safest thing to do when removing the top from the box. 

To ensure better tracking, use a resaw blade with a ½ inches width.

You certainly have a rough touch top after cutting, so you need to sand it using 120-grit sandpaper held firmly by a sturdy sanding block. 

5. Face Mount the Hinges

Although mortising the hinges can be done, face mounting them is quicker so you can make more wooden boxes. Mortising takes more time, thus doubling the length of your project. 

Anyway, tape the box until it is closed. Make sure that the tape is flushed outside the box. You can use the tape as a spacer for the hinge.

Spacing the hinge from the top may require you to employ a sliding square. Then, use a vixbit to predrill the wood. 

Since the brass hinges usually come with brass screws, there are a few things that you should bear in mind.

Brass screws are very soft; that is why you should opt for a hand screwdriver as an alternative to a battery driver. 

This will avoid the screws from stripping from the surface. Make sure that you use the correct length, which can be bought separately. 

6. Carve the Thumb Tab

This step is actually not necessary. But it can improve the aesthetics of your wooden box as well as show that it is handmade.

In doing so, you should first know the tab width. Then mark the edges using the X-Acto knife or utility knife. Between the marks, carve a facet about 45 degrees to create the finger tab. 

Using 220 grit sandpaper, sand the box and ease the entire edges. To complete the project, finish the box with your preferred coat.

If you want to give this as a gift, you should wait for a day before you should wrap it. 

Final Words

Now that you already know the steps on how to make a recipe box, it is time for you to do it yourself. This is perfect for personal use as well as a gift for your loved ones or friends.

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