Make a Heart-Shaped Box for a Special Keepsake or Jewelry

If you've waited until the last minute, there's still hope. Make this cute heart-shaped box in less than an hour if you've got a bandsaw and a few odds and ends lying around.

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

It All Starts With a Block of Wood

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

You can use any kind of wood, just make sure it’s about two inches bigger in every direction than whatever it is that you’re trying to hold inside of it. The large block shown above is 6" x 6" x 3". It should be large enough to hold a pair of earrings and a small necklace. You’ll also need to print a heart shape stencil that will fit easily inside of the block of wood. Make sure to leave a little space around the edges so you’ll have for cutting.

I’m So Stuck on You…

Gently mist the back of the stencil with the spray adhesive (you can use painter's tape too) and apply it to the chunk of wood. Make sure you’re using the repositionable adhesive so you can peel the stencil off! Let the stencil sit for a few minutes and then use a hobby knife to cut your delicate heart out. The paper one, not your real one, okay? Oh, and watch your fingers too. After you’ve removed the heart shape, give the stencil a quick (and very light) misting with white spray paint. This will help you really see your shape while you’re cutting on the bandsaw, it’s dramatically more visible than a pencil line and is super easy to sand off.

Oh, You. Just Cut It Out Okay?

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

Let’s unchain your heart from a life of being square and give it a new look. Head on over to the bandsaw and start cutting the wood from the outside of your stencil. Don’t cut right on the line, cut right up to it and then sand it to your finished shape. Don’t be afraid to cut in small passes, you can cut through the waste material and start over if you find yourself drifting into your artwork.

Love is Hard Work. So is Sanding.

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

Sanding awkwardly shaped pieces of wood requires a commitment to perfection that your Valentine will admire, but probably not mention. Don’t think you can skip this step, nothing ruins the mood quite like a splinter does. Using the desired level of grit, sand your newly formed heart until it’s perfectly smooth.

The Proverbial Hole in the Heart

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

Now that you’ve spent so much time sanding and polishing your delicate heart, we’re going to need you to drill a hole in it. More specifically a 1/4” hole, in the upper left corner and about three-quarters of the way through the block of wood. This is where you’ll insert a brass rod to make a swivel point. Make sure you do not drill all the way through. You just want to go deep enough so that the rod won’t fall out of either half.

Two Hearts Hinged Together as One

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

To make both halves of the box, head back to the band saw and cut your heart in two. The lid is the piece where the hole isn’t showing through, so if you want to make a thinner lid, make sure to adjust that half accordingly. Take your time and make a nice even cut so when your two halves come together they’ll be whole again.

Easier Than Making Arrows for Cupid

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

Cut the brass rod for the box hinge before you leave the bandsaw for the day. Brass is an extremely soft metal that can be cut with standard woodworking tools (the same goes for aluminum!) Insert the rod into both halves of your box and determine the depth you need. Hold the rod with both hands and gently push it through the bandsaw. I promise that it will cut as easily as wood does. Give the rod a quick sanding to remove any burrs and you’re ready to go.

Making Some Room in Your Heart

Photo by: Derek R. Trimble

Derek R. Trimble

Now it’s time to add a compartment in the bottom section of the box. Using a forstner bit, drill as wide and deep of a hole as needed for your gifts to fit into. It’s a good idea to make a few test holes in some scrap wood so you can determine what size bit you need. Remember not to drill all the way through the box, and take your time. If you’re using a hand drill, make sure to stay as plumb as you can to the workpiece. If you’re using a drill press, make sure to back off occasionally to clear the chips out. It's going to be a messy affair, love can be that way sometimes.

The Finishing Touches

Now that everything is cut to shape and drilled accordingly, you can apply some finish. If you waited to the last minute then finishing wax is the best bet. It dries in 15-20 minutes and buffs out to a nice smooth finish. Once that’s dry, you just need to glue in a liner into the compartment. I had some scrap leather lying around, but you can use nearly anything. Any piece of fabric would do the trick. Cut out a circle for the bottom and a thin strip for the sides and use super glue to adhere it inside the box.

Two Hearts Literally Joined as One

The brass rod gets inserted into the bottom half as shown, so use some of your leftover super glue to make sure it stays put. Once that’s dried in a few minutes, match up the top half and set it on top of the pin. Just swing it left to right a few times to make sure it opens and closes all the way and you’re ready to impress your Valentine.

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