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Four kids (three in school) means LOTS OF PAPER.  Lots of pictures, report cards, notes, etc that need a place to go. We almost grabbed another plastic hanging file box at the store the other day when I thought, why not make one so it can look a little more interesting and be totally free (I used scrap wood and spray paints I already had on hand) ?
I went back and forth on the design trying to decide what type of joinery would look best with plywood edges and how to finish them in a way that wouldn’t screen PLYWOOD.  I ended up with a simple rabbet and focusing instead on an interesting paint job.  I took the available colors to my wife and said “pick two.” Obviously you can paint or finish it in a million different ways to fit your space and style.

It’s a simple project that can be made from scraps! Check it out!

I measured out the width of the folders and added 1/4″ to the width for some wiggle room. I added 1/2″ for each of the side panels of the box.

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I cut down the front, back and side panels from 1/2″ plywood.

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I sat the pieces up together with the correct overlap (front and back overlapping the sides).

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Then I laid the pieces flat and marked the areas to remove on the front and back pieces.

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I set the height of the table saw blade to remove two of the three plys.

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I set the fence to 1/2″, the thickness of the panels.

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I ran the front and back panels through cutting a slot on each end.

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Then I sat the piece on end and matched the blade height to the are to cut. This type of remaining overhang is called a rabbet.

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Moving the fence over to match the thickness of the one remaining ply, I finished the rabbet.

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I did a test fit of the side panels to make sure everything fit.

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Then I added glue to all of the rabbets and sat the four box sides together.

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I used corner clamps on the top and bottom to hold the pieces square while the glue dried.

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With it dry, I measured the inner dimensions of the top and bottom.  These SHOULD be the same theoretically (and mine were here) but it’s always good to measure them separately.

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I cut two pieces of plywood to inset as the top and bottom.

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After a test fit, I added glue and  knocked them into place with a rubber mallet.

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I was careful here to keep the piece flush with the outer edge.

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I added some clamps to both sides to make sure all of the faces were connecting evenly.

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After it dried, I ran the box through the table saw, spinning it toward me 90˚ after each cut. This cuts the box lid free.

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Cutting a lid this way creates a perfectly matching lid.

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I measured the inside dimensions of the lid (which theoretically should be the same as the panels that were inset).

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I cut some pine to 1/8″ strip.

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Then I chopped this strip down to four pieces to fit inside the lid.

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I sprayed these four pieces with activator, to quickly cure CA glue.

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I added some glue around the inside edges of the lid.

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I sat the pieces in place.  The activator causes the glue to set immediately, so you only get one shot at placing them correctly.

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With all four pieces in place, I tested the fit.  It fit very tightly.

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I used a plane and a sanding block on the outer face of the lip to back it off a little.  This kept it fitting well, but helped it slide on and off easier.

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I used a chisel to knock off the four corners which helped in getting the lid lined up, therefore it was easier to drop in place.

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I squared up another strip of pine to 1/2″x1/2″.

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I cut a slot in the piece about 1/8″ from one side. This was just eyeballed.

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I flipped the piece around and onto it’s side then cut another strip off.

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I ended up with a channel to hang the folder on.

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I cut this down to two pieces that fit inside the box and added CA glue to hold them in place.

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I used a scrap from earlier as a spacer to place these. This was just to make sure that they were the same distance from the top edge.

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I tested dropping in a folder and was relieved at how easily it moved.

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I closed up the box and gave the whole thing a good sanding.

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Using some painters tape, I masked off an area in the center of the box connecting around the edges.

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There was no specific design here, just opposing angles on each side changing directions on the corners.

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I pressed down the tape edges with my thumb nail then used a clear spray to coat all of the tape edges.

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The clear spray will seep under any tape edges that didn’t adhere perfectly so that the colored paint can’t seep there later.  This makes a HUGE difference when using tape and spray paint. The lines come out very cleanly.

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I used some brown paper and more tape to cover the top section of the box.

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I flipped it over and sprayed the exposed bottom section grey using several light coats to avoid drips.

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I used some 3d printed painting corners to hold the box off of the table surface.

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I removed the top paper, sat the grey end on the painting corners and then covered the grey area with paper like before.

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With the grey area protected, I sprayed the top section green.

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After it dried, I removed all of the paper and tape.

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Finally I hit the whole thing with a coat of clear. This protects it and also brings out the wood grain in the center section.

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I ran a sharp blade along the whole seam of the lid to separate any paint before removing the lid.

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It was ready to use and it works great!

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