Monday, June 13, 2016

DIY Wooden #BreakoutEDU Boxes

This weekend my buddy, Jason, and I got together to build wooden #BreakoutEDU boxes for use in my classroom. A couple months ago, I saw a post from Nate Pabst in the BreakoutEDU Facebook group about building boxes and it inspired me to give box-building a try. According to Nate's post, I would need a piece of common board, hinges, hasps, and screws (and power tools - thank you, Jason, for making your workshop available) to complete the project.


By the end of our time on Saturday, Jason and I completed 4 wooden boxes. We used the following materials (plus a table saw, sander, and power drill) from Home Depot to complete the project:

The Building Process

Jason makes the initial cut

Once you've obtained all the materials and are ready to get started, you'll need to make the following cuts in your 1x12 common boards:
  • Cut four, 5 1/2" pieces that will become the sides of the box
  • Cut two, 12 13/16" pieces that will become the top and bottom of the box.
    • Note: Because of the cut width of the saw blade, we ended up with a 1/8" difference between the top and bottom pieces. I used the slightly smaller piece for the lid so there would be no chance of overhang. I hardly notice the difference and knowing that we could get two boxes from each board by sticking with these measurements makes it okay, too.
Once you've cut your boards, I recommend clamping the four side pieces in place after adding a bead of wood glue. Then, pre-drill holes where you'll add your screws so you don't split the wood. After assembling the sides, attach the bottom of the box. Again, add a bead of wood glue and pre-drill your holes before attaching with screws. Attach the hinges and the hasp and you have a complete box.
The finished product

Overall, the process went fairly quickly. We started setting everything up at about 2:00 Saturday afternoon and had four completed boxes by 6:00. I'm excited to work with wooden boxes instead of my large toolbox this year and hope that this post helps you with completing a similar project. Let me know if you have questions about anything in this post. Leave a comment here or find me on Twitter (@mr_stern)
Stack of accomplishment


  1. Thank you for posting all measurements and directions! I'm a DIY crafter but do not work with wood enough to know how to be efficient with my boards so this is PERFECT for me!

  2. How many boxes does a teacher need to have on hand? I JUST today learned about these, and as I think ahead for next year I want to be prepared. Also storage is a consideration. Where to store several boxes...

    1. You really only *need* one box. Even though I've found that most BreakoutEDU games are ideal for a group of about 10-12 students max, I've also started looking for ways to split the game up into small group tasks or even rotations. When the group gets too big, you get some students actively solving the puzzles while others just sit back and observe the action or don't get an opportunity to engage at all. Having multiple boxes is fun if you want to create a friendly competition and run the same game in two classrooms and "race." The only reason I have 3 is because of the amount of lumber I purchased. It would have been a waste to only create one box. Luckily, my classroom has a really large cabinet where I can store all of my BreakoutEDU easily on one shelf.