Making A Wooden Waste Basket General Woodworking

There’s a corner in my office where I throw things that I don’t want. Otherwise known as trash, but not “real” trash – the kind that starts to smell bad after a few days – this is mostly paper. Like from rough sketches to quickly jot down an interesting but improbable idea; scripts written for build videos in my nearly indecipherable hand-printing; or bits of mail – torn open envelopes and those extraneous pieces of paper sent along with a bill to explain using complicated charts and graphs what all those additional charges are for or how you can save a few cents per year by going out of your way to do something that borders on OCD.

So, I thought a worthy use of my time and yours to read it (and watch it…) would be to make a smart looking container to put that trash in. You know, to keep it organized and handy in case something important ends up in there before I permanently throw it away.

While I could use top quality material to make this, it’s often more satisfying to use something of lower value and see how it turns out. A piece of 1/2″ spruce sheathing plywood, a temporary shelf (that was in there for 4 years…) from a bedroom closet, just taking up space in my shop and was the perfect size. I cut it into four pieces that taper 5 degrees from bottom to top:

I considered square, but decided rectangular would look more interesting and made the sides for the ends narrower.

” Yes, sometimes even experienced people will do incomprehensible things…”

To join the corners, nothing beats box joints and here I’m using my Ultimate box joint jig on the two narrow sides:

These are 1/8″ box joints cut with a single blade. The jig will handle all four sides at once, of course, but for some reason I decided to double the time needed to cut these and do two sides at a time.
Yes, sometimes even experienced people will do incomprehensible things and not be able to give a good explanation for doing so. Could be I was concerned that I’d mess up and have to recut the joint, and better to do that on two rather than four.

Anyway, it didn’t really take that long to make the cuts – 3 or 4 minutes per corner, so not a big deal. That’s the benefit of a jig like this – fast, reliable setup and operation. The wider sides:

Here’s where I did something else that’s difficult to explain. Or, more precisely, didn’t do. I laid out the sides like this to check the fit and thought it would be a good idea to sand the inside faces of the panels before putting it together:

I then went and had lunch and completely forgot about sanding it before gluing it together:

Actually, I didn’t really forget. Instead I reminded myself that this is a trash container and that it would be reasonably appropriate for the inside to be rough looking.

Predictably, this plywood is not dead flat, so I used a few of my homemade clamps to pull the sides together:

I used polyurethane construction adhesive to glue the joints and left that to set overnight.

The next day I clamped a board from my table saw to the workbench to support the box while sanding it:

And here’s where I had another idea: to make the edges really smooth, but leave the middle rough and unsanded.

I like the effect this gives and of course anything that reduces the sanding time rates high for me.

Another scrap of 1/2″ plywood cut at 5 degrees on the edges and slightly oversized makes the bottom panel:

With the tapered sides, the bottom panel is just wedged in and I ran a bead of glue around it on the bottom. I briefly considered leaving it removable for easy cleaning, but then this is not for the dirty, wet trash, but the clean, dry one.

Another small semi-mistake was not trimming the plywood to remove the screw holes (yellow arrows). Originally I thought these would be “character”, but with the bin put together they didn’t fit with the look I was going for. So I put tape on the corners to reduce chip-out and cut the sides shorter:

And here I’m sanding the inside, the hard way:

Not overjoyed with how the inside was looking, my first thought was to line it with a darker veneer layer, much like my fancy wooden vase. But then I remembered I still have some black paint:

And the effect is not bad. The black contrasts the pale spruce and certainly hides all of the ugly I couldn’t sand away on the inside.

I coated the outside with clear satin water based poly and carefully sanded the rim of the basket to make the paint line crisp. I put on two more coats of clear, inside as well, sanding between each coat:

And here’s what it looks like finished:

Not yet loaded with that clean trash and sitting on my newly sanded and refinished plywood flooring.

The build video: