Folding Shop Box

Ready when you need it 

When is a box not a box? When you can fold it up and store it flat in a wink. This hinge-happy carry-all consists of scrap plywood and common hardware. A workshop favorite of Scott Phillips, host of The American Woodshop on PBS, the shop box lets you tote tools and materials from place to place, store turning blanks, and contain valuable cut-offs. Construction couldn’t be simpler. Let’s build one.

“Clutter is the thing that gets out of control in almost every shop. One of my favorite ways to manage tools is with this featured collapsible shop box. This 1920s design is the right way to put everything in its place. Plus they stack for even better storage. It’s a keeper.”
-Scott Phillips


Collapsing the Box for Easy Storage To fold up your shop box simply unhook the bottom, let the bottom drop down, and collapse the sides.

Build the Basic Box

1 Cut two box sides (A) and two ends (B) (we used Baltic birch) to the sizes shown in the Cut List from ½"-thick scrap plywood. Then cut the bottom (C) from ¾"-thick plywood.

2 Return to the ends (B) and mark two center points for the 6" handle openings where shown in the Box Exploded View, Figure 1. Drill the 1¼" holes, strike cut lines at the top and bottom of the holes to connect them, and then jigsaw or scrollsaw out the elongated openings to form the box handles. Rout 1/8" round-overs around the openings on both faces of each end (B) to ease the sharp edges for carrying the box.

3 Next, cut four triangular corner feet (D) and two rectangular edge feet (E) from ¼"-thick scrap plywood. See the dimensions in Figure 1. Glue and clamp these pieces onto the bottom face of the box bottom (C) where shown. (If you plan on finishing  your box, do this now before assembly.)

Add the hardware

1 Stand one side (A) and one end (B) on their bottom edges and butt the side against the inside face of the end, ensuring that the outside face of the side is flush with end’s edge. (See the hinge locations in Figure 1.) Place a broad butt hinge in the inside corner 1" down from the top edge. Start the screw holes with an awl or Vix bit, and then drive the screws. Place a second broad butt hinge 1" up from the bottom inside corner and secure it. Apply a pair of broad butt hinges to the remaining side and end, creating an opposing second side/end assembly.

2 Clamp the two side/end assemblies together, with the ends butting against the inside face of the sides. Mark the locations of the outside broad butt hinges where shown and drive the screws in the outside face of ends (B) and edges of the sides (A). You should now have an open-ended box.

3 Fit the box bottom in the hinged box assembly and attach the drop leaf hinges along one outside face of one box side where shown. With the bottom face of the box bottom (C) flush with the bottom edges of the box assembly, fasten the remaining leaves to the box bottom.

4 Center and install the hasp with hook on the top face of bottom (C) opposite the edge having the drop leaf hinges. Raise the hasp leaf to determine the catch location and install it. Using a sanding block and 150 grit, ease all exposed sharp edges. Now check out the photo sequence to see how to fold up the box for easy storage.

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