Spacing Between Box Top and Bottom - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 2 Old 01-09-2017, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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Spacing Between Box Top and Bottom

I wish to make a box of 5 sides (no top) out of 1/2" near furniture grade (i.e. sanded) plywood.

No attaching hardware to form the shape will be of issue. In other words I am gluing and nail gunning (sub-surface).

I will need two of these, one about 1/2" bigger/fatter/taller (i.e. the box top).

The box top, the larger of the two of course, may not be bigger than 36" L X 12" H X 24" D, but around that size.

How much space should I allow between the outer edge of the box bottom's sides, and the inner edge of the box top's sides, which of course lies on the outside portion of the overall pair of 5 sided objects.....

an 1/8"...a 1/16" ?????

In other words, how much "play" do you think is a good rule of thumb here, allowing for changes in humidity across seasons?

The contents of the box are light (clothes) such that the box's dimensions for all intents in purposes are not changed (i.e. the wood is not warped) by whether or not the box will have contents.

The box is out of sight; it's for storage, so appearance doesn't matter. Accordingly, is there anything I should treat the wood with to help keep it dimensionally stable?

The wood need not be cedar. Moths are not an issue.

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post #2 of 2 Old 01-09-2017, 12:51 PM
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To confirm my understanding:

You're building a pair of boxes. One will be 36"x12"x24", the other will be smaller. The large box will stack on top of the small box. Both will be made of 1/2" plywood.

The plan is to have the top box's sides extend below its bottom panel, and fit around the outside edges of the bottom box.

If I have all that correct, I wouldn't worry much about gaps for expansion. Plywood doesn't move that much, in my experience, and having the upper box slide around on the lower box will encourage the plywood to delaminate. For ease of measuring I might do as much as 1/8" total, but I suspect 1/16" total gap (meaning 1/32" on each side) would be more than sufficient.

I might also suggest a different method, though: Make the boxes the same side, but use 3/4" ply for the bottom panel of each box, and have it protrude 1/4" or so from the sides. That way it doesn't matter which box goes on top, because the bottom panel will just slot into the opening of the box below. You'll want to reduce the side-to-side dimensions of the protruding piece a little, but an electric sander should do that just fine.
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