Keepsake Box: Info Page

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This is the introduction for a free series. Want to watch the whole thing? It is free to do so, you just need to log into the site and you can enjoy this series and many other videos we think you will love.


Paul introduces a brand new design. This highly defined and refined keepsake box features curved sides with stepped and angled dovetails. With its floating panels, top and bottom, which are fitted into grooves, Paul created the dynamic allowing for expansion and contraction. This might make it seem a complicated project, but Paul takes you through it step by step to make an heirloom piece. It can be scaled and customised for a variety of uses.

The tools you will need are:

  • Knife
  • Square
  • Combination gauge (or marking gauge and mortise gauge)
  • *Cutting gauge
  • Tape/Ruler (or both)
  • Sliding bevel
  • Dovetail template
  • Chisel hammer
  • Chisels (at least 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1″)
  • Hand router (see how to make a ‘Poor Man’s Router here)
  • *Small router (or narrow router blade)
  • Smoothing plane (No 4)
  • Spokeshave
  • Plough Plane (3/16” or 5mm cutter)
  • *Bullnose plane
  • Handsaw
  • Tenon saw
  • Dovetail saw
  • Screwdriver
  • Square Awl
  • *Winding sticks
  • Card scraper

* = optional

Joints List:

  • Stepped, angled dovetails
  • Housing dados


  1. Chris Bunney on 18 May 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Looks like great little project! I can already think of a few people that this would make a great gift for. Just need to finish off my coffee table first!

  2. joers on 18 May 2017 at 6:26 pm

    Great project!! Love the box when IT curved like that!

  3. david o'sullivan on 18 May 2017 at 7:18 pm

    looking forward to this

  4. James Savage on 18 May 2017 at 7:21 pm

    A great looking project. Just in time to make a few for Christmas presents ( I’m very slow).
    Can’t wait, thank you.

  5. robertparsons81 on 18 May 2017 at 8:22 pm

    A great looking project i am looking forward to this one thank you and take care .

  6. liamc on 18 May 2017 at 8:46 pm

    I can’t wait to get stuck into this one, I appreciate that you always follow large projects with smaller ones- you do well at catering to those of us with different abilities and workspaces, thanks!

  7. David B on 18 May 2017 at 9:28 pm

    I’m looking forward to this. I made a box with a raised panel top that opened in the middle last year and I was thrilled to find out that Paul took a saw through the middle in order to make the top and bottom (I was relieved to learn that I did it right when I had no prior experience doing it)!

  8. Clifford on 19 May 2017 at 3:02 am

    Interesting that the PDF drawing is from Paul for this project (instead of the design and drawing by Greg). This project looks very exciting and will make for many useful gifts!

  9. ce000 on 19 May 2017 at 4:34 am

    Paul… Because of my old age & arthritic hands, I usually just watch the video’s and believe me I almost enjoy that as much as doing the project. But this time I think I’ll give it a shot. Looks too interesting not to!

    Thanks for helping my enjoyment of woodworking….

    John Mahoney

  10. joeleonetti on 20 May 2017 at 12:38 am

    Was planning to make a box for my wife to store various odd bits in for her work desk at home. This looks perfect for that. Thanks Paul.

  11. Jose Sosa on 20 May 2017 at 8:17 am

    This will be a lot of fun, I can’t wait to build it.

  12. Thomas Bittner on 20 May 2017 at 10:51 am

    Ive been meaning to make a cigar humidor, i may end up making a few of them!

    • Farred on 20 May 2017 at 7:49 pm

      I avoid Spanish cedar because of the dust, but this project looks small enough to tolerate.

  13. JohnStaplegrove on 20 May 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Hi, (not sure who to address a query to)
    I have been re-running the video on saw sharpening, a most excellent production.
    My query is; have you produced plans for the tall saw clamp Paul uses in that video?
    My bench is quite low and a little cramped and the tall saw clamp Paul uses looks to be very useful?
    There used to be a professional saw sharpener in town, he has moved to a bigger town and your video opened my eyes. Yes striking an old nail is not a problem.
    Have even purchased a No. 4 plane and following Paul’s video and a few hours cleaning and papering have an almost shinny tool albeit with a couple of previous owners markings.
    Thank you.

  14. jedevans on 20 May 2017 at 5:44 pm

    I love the box. It’s going to be an xmas present for my wife. I have some teak planks in the workshop that have been waiting for a suitable use – and I think this box will be just the trick.
    I’d also like to see a design for a saw sharpening vice please Paul (John Blundell, 20 May). I’ve never sharpened a saw in all my years as a woodworker (shame on me..!) but having recently bought a Lie Nielsen dovetail saw and carsass saw, I doubt I’ll trust those superb tools with a man with a machine. I need to man-up and use the saw files I have sitting unused in a drawer..!

  15. Paul Benoit on 21 May 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Hi Paul,
    This is the perfect gift for my niece. I am going to have to find another way to cut the top from the box. With my limited vision, I haven’t cut a straight cut yet. even with guides to track the saw. My thoughts are to cut the pieces first and glue them back together for cutting the joints.

    Any advice is well appreciated.
    Paul Benoit

  16. Derek Long on 25 May 2017 at 12:15 am

    Looks like a nice box for my daughter, and a nice twist to the dovetail box with addition of curved sides.

  17. Eran Assulin on 8 October 2017 at 5:39 am

    In which wood pual made it?

  18. harry wheeler on 29 March 2018 at 7:22 pm

    Are the cut list thicknesses correct? The top and bottom are shown as 5/8″ but the dimensions add up to 9/16. I’m wondering if the sides and ends were meant to be 5/8″ and the top and bottom 9/16″. Great looking project – I’m going to start on one today!
    Regards, Harry

    • Philip Adams on 3 April 2018 at 4:31 pm

      Hello Harry, it is slightly thicker to allow for planing the surface without ending up short. More critical with these finer projects.

      • chaywesley on 20 July 2019 at 1:21 pm

        Hi, I just came here with the same question. It seemed to me that all the pieces should be 9/16”. Now that I’ve thought about it more, I can see that the 5/8” top and bottom does work, but the thing I learned is to be careful which face to register the plow plane against when plowing the top / bottom. On my first attempt, it ended up that the (tongue?) on my top and bottom pieces will not fit into the 3/16” groove plowed into the sides and ends because the tongues ended up 1/16” too thick to fit into the groove. In my case, I think, this is because I registered the plow plane against the outside faces of the top and bottom pieces. I think it would have been ok had I registered against the inside faces instead. Some things seem so obvious in hindsight. I think I’ll be okay by planing the extra 1/16” off the inside faces of my top / bottom pieces, thereby reducing the thickness of the tongue.

  19. nogbad on 18 June 2018 at 8:09 am

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity and skill level to build this box. It was deceptively taxing but has made a very well received and important present.

  20. jdkatz on 30 December 2018 at 4:03 am

    I just finished this project today. It was very challenging, but in the end, the box is a spectacular piece. This video is particularly helpful because of the subtle technical hints that make it possible to duplicate it.

    Cutting those dovetails so they fit like a glove took many tries, but in the end if you watch how Paul does it, you’ll end up getting it right. The same goes for shaping the sides to the 10 5/8 radius. You’ve got to make the saw cuts to the exact proper depths to make this joint work. Your chisel work has to be pristine.

    I would classify this project as in the “advanced” amateur skill set. It was a blast to make.

  21. James Cavanaugh on 27 January 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Hi all! Is there a functional/structural purpose for the rebate/rabbet in the box ends? I’m going to try this box. Thanks!


    • Izzy Berger on 30 January 2019 at 8:46 am

      Hi James,

      Paul says it assists alignment greatly and guarantees the exact seating of the dovetail positioning.

      Kind Regards,

  22. Sam Lc on 3 May 2019 at 10:44 pm

    Looks like a great project. Is there a technical reason Paul put the dovetails on the sides instead of front/back? Or was it just personal preference? Many thanks.

  23. K S on 16 January 2022 at 7:29 pm

    Could the rebates/rabbits on the sides be omitted
    Thank you

    • YrHenSaer on 17 January 2022 at 9:32 am

      Yes, if you are so inclined, the rebates can be omitted and frequently are on the insides of drawers where the internal aspect of the dovetail union is not a feature of the piece.

      On this piece, when it is all assembled and glued, the shallow rebate obscures the inside section of the joint that may, in time, shrink very slightly when the wood dries out exposing the faint outline of the dovetails and pins. The overlap provides a clear line on the inside corner of the box.

      Additionally, if you cut tails first and then mark the pins, it helps to locate the tails section securely and tightly against the side of the piece while you are marking the pins – reducing the chance of slippage.

      So, it’s a matter of choice……

      Good luck.

      • K S on 21 January 2022 at 7:13 pm

        I follow Paul in using rebates and drawer fronts, where the joints should be hidden
        Thank you very much

      • K S on 21 January 2022 at 7:21 pm

        Your comment — “if you cut tails first and then mark the pins, it helps to locate the tails section securely and tightly against the side of the piece while you are marking the pins – reducing the chance of slippage.”__
        Is very hard to visualize
        I will have to do it myself to fully understand. I do learn by doing
        (It is wonderful that you guys are so responsive)

        • YrHenSaer on 22 January 2022 at 11:40 am

          …” Is very hard to visualize
          I will have to do it myself to fully understand. I do learn by doing”

          You can see the action of marking the tails by holding the rebate tight to the edge in the first episode, about 23 minutes in.

    • Benoît Van Noten on 22 January 2022 at 2:06 pm

      omitting the rebate would make the end of the groove visible when assembled.

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