Magnetic box top

I was making a Proofgrade Medium Cherry Ply box for someone and was tired of doing a second box as a slip-over cover. I decided to try a flat top with embedded magnets instead. It does work and the magnetic click is satisfying!

Here you can see the underside of the lid with a 3 mm x 1 mm magnet glued in flush. This magnet pocket was cut as a 3.3 mm circle, speed 800, LPI 270, full Pro power. I then used a small file to scratch excess char out of the hole, and secured the magnet with wood glue. (Titebond II and Gorilla Wood Glue both grip those slippery little magnets just fine.)

The tricky part was etching out a matching pocket on the corners of the box body. I had to do test scores on masking tape to get the aim right. With a 3 mm wide magnet there is no margin of error. This project worked, but I probably won’t do this again unless I am using thicker wood, which would make it much easier to get things acceptably lined up.


I know we have lasers but a 3mm forstner bit might be better for this.


I did drill one test unit by hand. It worked OK but seemed to have more potential for error. Also, by using the laser I can easily keep the two sets of 4 pockets in good alignment.

Bottom line, I trust the laser more than my own hands, or my wobbly piece of junk Harbor Freight drill press. YMMV.


This was not a criticism just a suggestion.

It’s all good. I DO use the laser too much for some things, but it’s because it is sometimes more fun even if it’s not the best approach. (And I truly kind of hate working with regular woodworking tools, I will spend 10 minutes drilling a hole with the laser instead of picking up a drill.)

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I’ve been known to use the pass-through to cut the end off a piece of wood rather than just zip it off on the table saw and taking twice as long to do it :grin::grinning:

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I keep coming back to this design idea, but get stuck thinking about making it work in a deeper box.

I haven’t tried yet but been thinking about engraving a pocket in the inside surface of th3 vertical box side.

Any thoughts?

I thought about that too. I did it this way first because the cuts were easier to visualize and I could fall back to a drill if I had to. However, I think that adding magnet pockets into the sides of the box, just under the flat top, would be better overall. You’d have no manual alignment issues at all if you prepared the files correctly.

I’d be happier if the plywood was a little bit thicker or the magnets a bit smaller though. These 3 mm magnets are just a hair smaller than the medium plywood. Using a bunch of 2 mm magnets might be a good compromise.

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I wouldn’t use a magnet in the box. I’d drill a hole for a finishing nail and drop those in the corners. The magnets in the lid would still grab up against the nail head fine.