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Master of Disguise

By Rob Brown

Don’t let your décor suffer through the cold and flu season with a humdrum tissue box. Conceal tissues under this handsome wood accessory that brings natural beauty and decorative relief to your living space.

Rob Brown designs and builds custom furniture and is the editor of Canadian Woodworking and Home Improvement magazine. www.canadianwoodworking.com

What You'll Need



  • contrasting wood for sides/ends and top
  • masking tape 1670-882
  • sandpaper 1230-947
  • wood glue 2020-067
  • protective finish of your choice

Here's How

  • Dress a board long enough to obtain sides to final thickness and width.Determine how long your sides/ends need to be by adding the length/width of your tissue box, twice the thickness of the sides/ends, and an extra 1/4” gap to be able to fit the tissue box inside the wood box.
  • Mark lines on board to cut, alternating with one side, one end, one side, one end. Be sure to leave 1/2” gaps between each part to allow for the initial saw kerf, as well as the subsequent bevel cuts. (photo 1)
  • Machine a 1/4” wide rabbet in the inside of the sides/ends to accept the top. (photo 2)
  • Crosscut the sides and ends apart from one another.
  • With a table saw sled, cut bevels on one end of all of the four parts, being sure not to remove more than 1/16” of overall length off each part. (photo 3)
  • Set up a stop and bevel the two sides to finished length.
  • Set up a stop and bevel the two ends to finished length.
  • Determine the dimensions of the top, taking into account the tenons on the edge of the top. (photo 4)
  • Break the top out but keep it at least 12” longer than it needs to be. This allows easier control of the top blank while machining the groove on a router table.
  • Mark the size of the top on the blank and add the location of the groove in the top.

  • Set up your router table with a straight bit and a fence to guide the top blank. Ensure the bit is raised to a height that will protrude through the top.
  • Rather than machine this groove in one pass (which can lead to a poor cut and can be dangerous) clamp a few pieces of 1/8” thick material to the router tabletop.
  • Add stop blocks to mark the beginning and ending of the pass to give you a groove of the correct length.
  • Make your first pass, then remove one of the 1/8” thick shims, make another pass, etcetera, until your groove is complete. (photos 5 and 6)
  • Mark the top, cut it to size, and machine a rabbet around its four edges.
  • Check for fit, making any adjustments to the width of the tenon so it fits properly into the groove.
  • Sand the visible surface of the top.
  • Use masking tape to secure three of the bevelled corners together, face down on a flat surface. (photo 7)
  • Flip the parts over, add glue to the bevels and wrap the four parts together, while inserting the top into the groove. (photos 8 and 9)
  • Apply tape across the final bevelled corner, ensure the assembly is square, then set it aside to dry.
  • Sand the visible surfaces and ease the edges. Apply a finish.​
1. Lay Out and Number
Lay out the four parts on a blank, keeping in mind the width of the kerf of each cut. Number the parts so they can be assembled in the same order they were cut from the board.
2. Groove for the Top
While the sides and ends are still connected, run a groove to accept the top.
3. Consistent Bevels
Cut bevels on one end of the two sides and two ends. Set up a stop block to bevel the sides to length and then setup a stop block to bevel the two ends to length.​
4. Measure the Width of the Top
The length of the groove in one of the end pieces will provide you with the width of the top. Make the top about 1/8” narrower to account for seasonal changes.

5. First Pass for Tissue Groove
With the 1/8” thick layers in place, make the first pass for the groove. Notice the stop blocks locating the start of the cut and limiting the end point of the cut.
6. Final Pass for Tissue Groove
Remove a layer after each pass, then run the groove again. This will allow you to take light passes as you create the groove.
​7. Masking Tape Saves the Day
With the boards butted together end-to-end, apply masking tape across the joints. Once you flip the assembly over and fold the parts together, the tape will hold the joints tight while the glue dries.
8. A Bit of Glue
When installing the top in the groove, use a small amount of glue in the centre of the end pieces. This keeps the top from moving around in the groove, but still allows it to move with seasonal changes in humidity.​
​9. Wrap it Up
With the bevels glued and top in place, wrap the parts together and apply tape across the final bevel joint. Before setting it aside to dry ensure the top is centered in the groove.
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