90 degree stop hinge on a wooden box

Hinged Wood Boxes – What Most People Think of When They Think Box


Hinged boxes are boxes where the lid is attached to the box body (or carcass), with a wood or metal hinge.  These represent more of the traditional styles of boxes like jewelry, book or keepsake boxes.  These are usually more elaborate than simple lift lid types of boxes and generally have a specific intent for their use.  Often they will contain dividers and trays internally for sorting and organizing contents.

Hinged wooden boxes are meant to display items.  Jewelry boxes are good examples as are men’s valet boxes.  They are meant to be eye appealing.  The box lid can be cut from the carcass of the box or be an entirely separate piece by itself.

A lid panel is inserted into the box body when the lid is separated by cutting from the carcass.  This allows a continuous grain pattern of the wood around the box and from top to bottom.  When the lid is a separate piece by itself, the lid panel is normally inserted in a surrounding frame.  This is called frame and panel construction.    Frames can be made with various corner joints.  Mortise and tenon joints are commonly used as are bridle joints (known also as through mortise or traditional joints in America).

Hinges used in box making range depending on use and design of the box.  Inexpensive butt hinges can be found in almost every hardware store or home center.  Sturdier butt hinges can be found online.  Other hinges used in these boxes are stop hinges which are also known as 90 degree hinges, quadrant hinges, side-rail hinges and knife hinges.  Barrel hinges are named for their shape and are often used on small boxes.  Most hinges on wood boxes are made of brass but you will also see nickel ones too.

This type of wooden box may range in size from small ring boxes with barrel hinges to small chest size.   You can find a hinge box to meet any need.  I’ve already mentioned jewelry boxes and men’s valets.  Keepsake (also known as memory), keeper, stash, and many other styles of wood boxes come with hinges.

Most boxes in this category are made of hardwoods.  Figured woods make for striking grain patterns and add interest to the box.  Curled and spalted wood make the lid draw attention and also are very attractive.  Exotic hardwoods from tropical regions add unusual attractiveness to the box.  Lid panels are often veneered or inlayed.  Special inlays such as marquetry can add scenes, wildlife, flowers or pleasing patterns to the lid (and sometimes carcass), of the box.  Parquetry is an inlay in geometric patterns.

I tend to use mainly American hardwoods in my wooden boxes.  Maple, walnut, hickory, and other hardwood from the Eastern United States.  You can find my boxes at my Rist Wood Works Etsy Shop.

You can find hinged wooden boxes for just about any use.  They not only function for storage and organization but also compliment any room decor.  They can be striking and draw attention or innocuous but useful to clean up surface clutter and make an area appear organized.  They can almost become like a piece of the furniture in any room.  I love these boxes!

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