Build Basic Wooden Boxes

Painted wooden boxes


These easy-to-build boxes can be made from pine, oak, maple, or cedar, and then painted or stained to fit your space. In the diagrams, you will find the details you need for seven different sizes. They all follow the same process; print off the diagrams you need and get hammering.

Header Basic Box

Step 1: After you decide which of the boxes you want to build, cut two scraps of pine 1 x 3 [2.54 cm x 7.62 cm] slightly longer than the height and length of the largest box you plan to build, and adhere them to your work surface with double-face tape. Use a framing square to make sure the boards are at a 90-degree angle to one another (Photo 1). This L-shaped assembly frame will help you build the boxes so they stay square as you proceed.

Use a square to make an assembly frame.

Good to Know: Any straight boards will do when creating this assembly frame. Just look down the edges and avoid boards that are twisted or bowed, as this would cause assembly problems.

Step 2: Cut to length all of the boards for the boxes you are building and sand them with 150-grit sandpaper (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Note that each part is used in a variety of ways; the fronts, backs, and bottoms are all the same length and are labeled Part (A). The sides and any dividers are the parts labeled (B), and the corner cleats are labeled (C). Depending on the number of boxes and the number of parts, using a power sander saves you a great deal of time.

Good to Know: When assembling this project, you can hammer in 1-1/4-in [3.18 cm] finish nails or use a brad nailer. A brad nailer shoots 18-gauge nails just below the surface of the wood — ideal for filling with wood putty. If you drive the nails with a hammer, use a nail set to sink the heads just below the wood surface.

Step 3: Build the front assembly by placing the front slats (A) against the assembly frame. Glue and nail the corner cleats (C) with their outside edges flush with the slat ends (Project Diagram, Drawing 1) so that the bottom ends of the braces overhang the bottom edge of the sides by 3/4 inch [1.91 cm] (Photo 2). Remove the assembly and build the back using the same parts.

Nail the corner braces to the front slats.

Step 4: Add additional corner cleats to the ends of the front and back assemblies (Photo 3).

Nail the corner braces to the front/back assembly

Step 5: Stand the front and back assembly on your bench with the top edge facing down, and add the sides (B) using glue and brads (Photo 4).

Add the ends to the front and back

Step 6: Slip the bottom boards into position and secure with glue and brads (Photo 5).

Nail the corner braces to the front slats.

Divider and Finish

Step 1: If the box needs a divider, use the sides (C) to divide the box into two sections. Slip the dividers between the front and back rails in the middle of the box and nail though the front and back slats into the ends of the dividers.

Step 2: Lightly sand all the edges of the parts with a 180-grit sanding sponge (Photo 6) and apply a stain-blocking primer or wood stain to the assembled box. After the paint or stain dries, apply two coats of paint or polyurethane. Sand between coats with the sanding sponge for a smooth final finish.

Sand all the edges before applying a finish

Step 3: The boxes can be placed on the floor or attached to a wall. To hang them, drive flathead screws through the back into a stud in the wall. It is best if they are attached to two studs using 2-1/2-inch [6.35 cm] screws. A touch of paint on the screw heads will help make them disappear.


Skill Level: Intermediate

Estimated Cost: $10- $27 + paint per box, depending on size.

Time Estimate: A few hours


  • Mitre box and handsaw, or powered mitre saw
  • Hammer or pneumatic brad nailer
  • Framing square
  • Nail set
  • Clamps
  • Painting supplies (sandpaper, brushes, rags)
  • Double-faced tape
  • Wood filler
  • Putty knife
  • Wood glue
  • 180-grit sanding sponge


  • Download Plans
  • See Cutting Diagram for lumber:
  • 1-1/4-in [3.18 cm], 18 gauge brads
  • Stain blocking primer
  • Paint of your choice
  • Wood stain and polyurethane

* Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary by market. Paint colours may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.


Products and prices may change; check your local Lowe’s store for details

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