How to design and build a 2-way box

In this article we design and build a box that has two openings so that the things put in first are the first ones taken out.

Years ago I’ve created this simple cardboard box. By putting new dishwasher tabs in the opening at the top and taking them out from the bottom we avoid tabs sitting in the box for decades and becoming unusable.

Designing the box

As we no longer store the tabs in a shelf but in a drawer we need a different design. The design starts with the inevitable fact that we need four sides that form a box. A hardwood would be great as it is less prone to dents and scratches. But as no one will look inside the drawers cost and speed are more important for this design. These pine panels were super cheap on sale and I will choose the dimensions of the box so that I can get all the wood from one 40 by 60 cm panel.

To connect the sides a dovetail or box joint or mitre corners would be nice. However: Given that the panel is made from individual strips of wood one glue line more or less won’t matter.


Using biscuits for alignment we glue the box together with simple butt joints.


Creating the lid

This Japanese toolbox inspired the design of the lids.

To create this kind of lid the opening of the box is sanded flush.

From the leftover wood we cut a few strips and glue them with biscuits to the top and the bottom of the box.


After the glue is dried we measure the opening from the inside corner to the edge of the strip and cut some plywood scraps to size.


On the plywood we glue two additional strips of wood. One of the strips is positioned at a distance equal to the overhang of the strips at the side; the other at half of that distance.

The box is now sanded to 180 grid.

In our case one of the two lids will be open most of the time. To avoid that the lid clutters the drawer we cut two strips to the thickness of the plywood and glue them to a horizontal piece. By repeating this procedure we have a place to store the lid when it’s not in use.

Finally the box is coated with two coats of hard wax.

It provides exactly the functionality we were looking for. You can fill in an entire package of dishwasher tabs close the lid, turn it around and next use one of the tabs from the bottom.

The project is very utilitarian but functional. What are the design priorities in your projects? Do you always go for the best look possible? Let me know s I was really on the edge of creating this project from oak with dovetails and brass hardware but then knocked it out very quickly.