What is the best way to reduce depth of this wooden box using hand tools only (I don't have any woodworking facility, like electric tools)?

I would like to remove the area outlined in red. The box is a wine bottle container.

Is it more practical to take the nails out and cut each side separately or cut through the box in one piece?

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  • The tools I have, for this purpose, are a hand saw, hacksaw, hammer and chisel. I would be willing to purchase other tools within reason.

  • I want to use the item to cover a grate to stop noise coming through from outside. It currently can be positioned over the grate as the grate sticks out a bit.

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  • 3
    What tools do you have or are willing to purchase? That will go a long way toward informing decisions.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 4, 2022 at 12:09
  • Edit the question and tell us what tools you have available and maybe what you expect to do with the box when done. Only having a single nail holding the sides when you are finished might be a concern I suppose.
    – user5572
    Feb 4, 2022 at 13:21
  • 2
    You can cut this down either way, I would strongly recommend taking it apart to saw each side separately. Doing it with the box in one piece is totally doable for someone experienced in sawing, but tricky to pull off for the novice AND may require a bench vice to hold the box effectively during the cuts. I'm presuming you're in the second category and don't have a woodworking bench vice or you'd probably not have needed to ask this. If you need a saw recommendation it could help to know what country you're in, as the saw I would think of first to suggest may not be available where you are.
    – Graphus
    Feb 4, 2022 at 14:28
  • 1
    CAUTION: What is that grate for? Does it admit air directly from outside? Is it the "cold air" return for your forced hot-air HVAC system? Before you cover it, you should know what you're doing. Covering an air return ducts for a forced hot-air furnace/AC system can wreck havoc with your heating! If you're not sure what it's for, it would be a good question to ask at the Home Improvement sister site. You'll get loads of tips on how to trace where the vent goes in order to figure out what it's for and if it's safe to cover it. Include the same two pictures - they'll want to know.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 4, 2022 at 16:22
  • 1
    That strikes me as odd, but so long as you know what it's for. You may want to line the inside with some loose fabric or foam for additional noise reduction.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 4, 2022 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


Well the simplest way is with a hand saw, there are many different designs and qualities available. Many under $50. A hand saw could do the job while the box is assembled or taken apart and each side cut independently. to make a nice straight cut takes a little practice using a hand saw but even a novice can make it happen. You can sand the cut after your done to clean it up. or if you want to up your game just a little you can try using a hand plane to clean up you wavy cutting.

As jdv pointed out in the comments, cutting it there you will only have 1 nail left on each corner, so you might want to reinforce those with 1 or 2 more nails on each (depending on planned use for the box).

The super cheap and 'easy' way to do it but the finish will be debatable, is to take it apart, score each side deeply with a box cutter (and a straight edge) and then, over a counter, snap it off, these look like fairly thin boards with pretty straight grain so it should work, kind of like cutting drywall.

But in order of recommendations:

  • Table saw
  • Skill saw
  • Hand saw
  • Something else
  • ....
  • box cutter
  • 1
    Although it would be great if the OP could use it I'm familiar with these boxes and while I couldn't be certain the sides are far too thick for the scribe-and-snap trick to be reliable I would think —all you need is one bit of errant grain (and we can see there is some) and the snap will likely wander into a grain line. Some of these types of boxes are made from softwood ply and those would be perfect candidates for that technique though.
    – Graphus
    Feb 4, 2022 at 14:21
  • @Graphus, yes it isn't my first recommendation for this, but I'd try it in a pinch.
    – bowlturner
    Feb 4, 2022 at 16:00
  • Actually, taking a closer look at it, you are right, they are pretty thick walls, not likely to have good results. He has a hand saw, I'd stick with that.
    – bowlturner
    Feb 4, 2022 at 16:07
  • I'd agree with the order of recommendations as going in increasing order of difficult of making a nice straight cut. However they're also in decreasing order of investment!
    – FreeMan
    Feb 4, 2022 at 16:19
  • @FreeMan exactly!
    – bowlturner
    Feb 4, 2022 at 16:49

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