– Ben Martens

Custom Card Boxes

We play quite a bit of Uno and Phase 10 in our house, but just like when I was growing up, the boxes for those games are barely holding together. I thought it would be an interesting project to try and build boxes to hold the cards, and it would be a good way to use up some scrap wood too.

My first attempt used a method that I learned about from Steve Ramsey, though I’m sure he didn’t invent it. With some careful router work, you can end up with a lid that perfectly fits onto the box. The corners were 45 degree miters while the top and the bottom fit on with some rabbets. The router cuts technically worked ok, and one of them was sufficiently snug, but the other one was way too loose. There’s a very fine line between not fitting and too lose. Since the lids flopped off and I didn’t feel satisfied, I finished the boxes with spray lacquer and gave them to Elijah.

I wanted to try again, but instead of just remaking the same thing, this time I decided to make box joints. And instead of having the top and bottom overlap the sides, I set them into dadoes in the does so they’d be flush. The lid didn’t get glued in and was able to slide out the shorter front piece. That plan worked better and those box joints are really solid, but I still had fit issues. One lid fit very well and I got too cocky on the second one and sanded just a hair too long. It was good enough to use though. I thought it would be fun to put the logo into the top of the boxes and I tried making a paint mask with the Cricut as well as using a mask for a Scorch pen, but the paint didn’t look great and the heat for the Scorch pen ended up warping the wood. In the end, I used the laser cutter at work to engrave the logo on the top of the boxes, and they got finished with boiled linseed oil.

Is it overkill? Of course! But I enjoyed making all four and learned lessons that will help the next time I make a box… and a lot of woodworking is a variation on making a box.

While I was making this, I counted our Uno cards and we were missing quite a few so I ordered a new set on Amazon. The day after I wrapped up this project, the cards arrived… in a nice tin case.