Beginner Ringbox Build

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3 Mar 2017
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So, some of you may remember a while ago I asked questions about making a ringbox ( and here are my results... I'll begin by saying, once all is out in the open, I'm going to be remaking it from scratch due to errors that will become apparent!

So I started off with some lovely cherry dowels that I purchase online (name at the bottom). A 38.1mm and 45mm width dowel that was chopped up (using this incredible saw!) into two discs and a body to create a bobbin shape.

After some initial sanding and shaping (ends were a little wonky) I cut the body in half, this was my first attempt... not terrible!

Mistakes were made (photos deleted) and this was attempt number 3, although I ended up on attempt 4! As you can see, the saw did bite me, but just the once!

After some more sanding, this was what a test fit looked like. Things would be much easier with power tools, I'm sure, but I'm quite proud to say that everything on this build was done by hand and with hand tools! I had originally planned and decided to split everything in half, but while checking everything fit together, I decided I liked the ends whole and only the middle opening up. See the CAD drawings for my original idea!

Next up was the problem of cutting out the middle... very limited on tools and space I followed an idea I got from watching woodworking videos where a chap used a table saw to cut out a space in some wood. So I cut grooves into the block to create wafers that just snapped off with a chisel! Easy!

I then used a 5mm chisel (found in my Grandad's old tools which I originally didn't know anyone had kept!) to smooth out the bottom and sides. I ended up putting a curve into the top half, you should see it in further pictures. I really enjoyed the chisel work... something zen about it!

Once to size, I used some packing foam found around laptops, etc to be used as the insert to hold the ring.

Found some nice tidy hinges off eBay to use on the back. I had original planned to use barrel hinges but they never turned up and it made me decide that it was way beyond beginner level. So in the end I used some... "normal" hinges and cut a little groove to get it as flush as possible.

Time to glue! Or so I thought... there were things I should have done before this, but I've learnt myself a lesson!

And mostly dry...

Once I started sanding down the glue squidges (because I didn't wipe off the excess fully, massive mistake!) I found putting some tape over one side of the file helped to keep damage to a minimum. I used this and then varying grits of sandpaper up to 600.

I had the clever idea of embedding some magnets into the box to act as a clasp of sorts. So I drilled some holes, dropped in some tiny 3mm rare earth magnets and then sanded down some tiny discs to insert into the holes to cover it up. I really should have done this before gluing on the ends as it would have made it much easier! But again, a learning curve here. I think it came out pretty well considering and it's probably the bit I'm most pleased about the project with one exception. I'll explain a little further down.

A test fit so far in the project... things were a little tight as I hadn't done any final sanding and the wood had expanded a little due to sitting in the sun.

I sanded a small wave into the upper side to give an indication of which was to open it. You can also see a corner has been rubbed down accidentally!

I put together the insert, ready to be glued in after finishing. I bought some red velvet to wrap around the packing foam. It's a little tough and I might use something a slightly more forgiving on the remake, but it works pretty well. Gives a good, solid grip on the ring. I ended up making two versions of this, the first one had it glues to 3 sides of the foam but it didn't seem to fit right. So I left the middle free and it all worked together much better.

After a final sanding with 600 grit (amazed me how smooth wood can get, even at this level!) I used boiled linseed oil to stain and finish. I was in two minds about this as I really like the natural cherry colour and look, so I may not do it on the remake. If anyone has any suggestions on what to use instead, I'm all ears! I only applied a single coat and a light rub down with 600 grit again to finish. I'm pretty happy with it, with the exceptions of where I couldn't get rid of all the excess glue!

Massive mistake not wiping it down properly but it's something I could fix with time and not something I would do again! I also screwed the hinge in place after the stain, which ended up going on a little wonky so again, any tips for hinges would be great!

The biggest mistake I made though and the reason I'm remaking this is the magnets. I totally forgot to check which way they faced and.... they are repelling each other! So the box doesn't quite close! Stupid, rookie mistake! So to fix this and so I can still use the box (as we go away on holiday on the 25th) I'm going to wrap it with ribbon to keep it closed. My girlfriend will no doubt see the funny side and, I'm sure, will insist that I don't make a new one.

I've spent probably some where in the region of 20 - 30 hours on this little project and I have to say, I've really enjoyed it. We're going to look at buying our first place together next year (renting at the moment) and I already want a garage so I can put together a little workshop. I'd love to make more little boxes and things like this in the future.

So, until the remake, he are the final shots.

Thanks to MattRoberts, marcos, nev, Neil S, Lons, and Bm101 for tips and guidance and the push to start this little project in the first place.

Dowels were bought from G & S Specialist Timber. Delivery was excellent and prices reasonable to me!

Tools used:
  • A small rotatable engineers vice, clamped to a dodgy computer desk
  • Small Irwin pull saw - incredible little thing! Very flexible (might not be so good for beginners!) but eats through wood once you get it right!
  • Two small slide clamps
  • Gorilla Wood Glue
  • 80 - 600 sand paper
  • Hand drill with 4mm bit
  • 5mm chisel (thank you Grandad!)
  • Spotify

I'll update this thread when I do the remake in a few weeks, hopefully! In the mean time, tips for improvement, criticism and comments are most welcome! I don't take offence easy and frankly I'm dame proud to make something with my own hands for the first time so do your worst! haha. Good night!


11 Oct 2014
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Not too shabby for a first attempt.

My suggestion for the mark 2 version would be to lose the lid hinge as although youve curved it to fit, it does not have the same quality appearance as the rest of the box.
Make a hidden hinge by using small pieces of brass bar inset into the ends and the rear sides of the lid. With the back edge of the lid curved to allow the lid to rotate around the pins.

and maybe curving the inside edge of the front of the lid steeply away. This will make the lid less "in yer face" as the box is opened, allowing the effect of the ring to be centre stage.


Lean into the Curve
19 Aug 2015
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Great stuff. You've done well there. I enjoyed reading and saw you learning as you went through the processes. Good approach and thinking inside and outside the box, forgive the pun. Key thing for me was seeing you adapt to mistakes and alter your approach. Nice one.
Keep at it.
If you want a simply applied finish that will really make this or your next box shine you could take a look at Tru Oil. ... inish.aspx
Buy the smallest possible bottle and search around for the best price online. It's really easy to apply and will cover your next 50 boxes of that size, it goes a long way. If you do go down this route don't open the foil inside the bottle, use a pin to prick the foil and store the bottle upside down between uses as this will stop it drying out.
To get the best possible finish you'll need some micromesh ... ves-211365 and sand between coats to really high grits but it's a nice process and you'll be pleased with the results. there's an initial cost of course but the micromesh can be washed and lasts well. Again search around for prices.

Jimi explains it better than I could here.

Obviously there's other products out there!

Well done.



3 Mar 2017
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Thanks for the comments so far!

@sunnybob - I know what you mean for the hinge, but one of the reasons I went with this hinge is because I don't like the look of one side having a curved back to allow it to open. I wanted to go for a 'bobbin turned into box' sort of look for this. But, something to try on a larger box I think!

@Alexam - Thank you!

@Bm101 - Thanks! I had loads of fun making it and I learnt LOADS from something so simple! Looking forward to taking my time on a remake and not having to do it whenever I get a chance because my girlfriend has gone out for a few hours! I'll take a look at Tru Oil. I'd like to preserve the natural colour of the wood if I can, I love look of cherry!

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