I've built the wooden box below. The plans for it called for a thin liner with mitered corners that would hold its position within the surrounding walnut frame with a friction fit.

I think the liner I've made will work:

Box image with loose pine liner

except that the pieces are a little loose and there are small gaps in the miters and vertical movement of the pieces after the lid has been opened and closed. EDIT: The miters show a gap of less than 1/32" with repeated opening and closing of the lid and they won't collapse inward under any circumstance other than say a horseshoe being thrown into the box from eight feet away.

I think it might be best to anchor the liner somehow. I thought, rather than gluing the liner in place with a yellow glue, it might be easier to just use some sort of silicone glue/sealant in strategic locations around the liner (between liner and walnut walls).

How can I firm up that liner but make it so it could be removed/replaced later if necessary?

  • 2
    "the pieces are a little loose and there are small gaps" Remake the end pieces, or all four, so that they're not and there aren't :-)
    – Graphus
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 7:49
  • 1
    Or shim with fine, broad shavings, assuming we are talking about some small dimensions, like a 32nd or so. You don't mention what the gaps are like. Like, is this nearly a friction fit, or is is loose enough to fall in quickly? Does it slowly sink in because it is a near air-tight (but not quite) fit? Edit the question and tell us.
    – user5572
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 16:28
  • 1
    Do it like construction people do, few drops of silicone to keep it in place and a bead of wood filler/caulk on any visible seam :)
    – Eugene
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 17:18
  • I think I'll try the shim approach first and then I may devolve into construction and silicone if needed :) And I'll chalk up the imperfections to the learning experience!
    – gcbound
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 3:33

1 Answer 1


New liners
I think the correct approach to this problem is to make new liners. Possibly only two of the four pieces need to be re-done to get everything tight enough*.

Now hiding mistakes is a standard part of woodworking :-) but so is remaking components that haven't come out quite right.

And as these are such simple pieces this shouldn't feel like too much work. If the thought of the wasted material is part of the resistance to the idea the existing ones don't have to be discarded — you could deliberately size your next box so these liners will be slightly oversize, so you can shoot them down to a tight fit.

If you do want to try shimming as per the Comments I'll suggest a way that you might not have thought of. Use stout paper or thin card stock, cutting rectangles the full length and depth of the inside of the walnut box but narrower so that they lie below its lip.

A paper/card inner lining will effectively thicken the walls of the box, pushing the wooden liner material inwards in both directions and should easily take up the slack enough that the liners are good and tight like they should be. They'll also provide a shadow line between box and liner which you may find attractive.

The thickness of each piece of paper/card needs to be much less than 1/64" (0.4mm) to take up slack of a thin 32nd.

Unfortunately this will probably cause the lid to be a slightly looser fit.

For next time
Make the box first so that you're taking measurements from the real thing, which may not be perfectly square. It's best not to go from the ideal dimensions given in a plan, or from calculations in your head based on the outer dimensions of the box plus twice the stock thickness.

Then cut your liner pieces slightly over-length and shoot one at a time to a tight fit in the box by planing in a suitable shooting board. If you didn't size the current liner pieces by shooting this may account for any difficulty in getting the liners just right, methods using power tools are fraught with the risk of trimming just a smidge too much off.

But regardless of the trimming method you use sneak up on a good fit — trim a bit, test fit, trim a bit, test fit etc. Remember we have multiple opportunities to shorten pieces that are too long but no opportunity to lengthen them once they're too short!

Just to note, longer liner pieces in particular may need to be flexed ever so slightly to get them in so they're a super-tight fit.

  • 1
    I've had trouble in the past getting a lid to close nicely on builds like this -- the dimensions are surprisingly finicky. Additional practice to get it right is good advice!
    – user5572
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 16:40
  • @jdv, lid sawn off a closed box or made separately? If the latter yeah, surprisingly finicky for sure!
    – Graphus
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 18:36
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    I shimmed the liner with $20 bills and told her to leave them in because the miters will look much better and the lid will close. For next time, I'm thinking of taking up woodworking as a business. Once I get really good, I might break even! Seriously, thanks for the advice/help.
    – gcbound
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 15:53

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