Justin Newcombe gets to work on a versatile set of boxes, painted to commemorate this year's big sporting event.

I love the Olympics, particularly the cycling (although the road race should be a full-on tour) and the 1500m is the perfect distance to measure the best attributes of the human condition. Sadly, through the expulsion of the tug of war, mud-throwing and cross-country swimming, the Olympics are a much diminished spectacle. Fortunately some new sports have made an impact, like synchronised swimming, which is definitely on my must-watch list, a far better option than shooting - definitely on my not-watch list. Rugby sevens makes its debut next time in Rio de Janeiro, which will please many New Zealanders. However, my wife draws the line at the proposal to include pole dancing, although my kids seemed quite enthusiastic. I just want an easy life, so I have no opinion.

But there is work to be done. One of the most versatile things you can build is a box and even more versatile is a box set. A good size box set can become a set of drawers, a set of shelves, a sofa or table and chairs, part of a desk and even a bed with a bedside table. The great thing is it can all become something else at a later date, a bit like Lego. I've created a set of boxes which will probably become a desk in my daughter's room with two boxes at each end doubling as legs and storage while a piece of clear pine will make up the top.

Because the Olympics are about to start, I've managed to solve any disputes over colour scheme and have painted each of the five boxes the colours of the five Olympic rings. I made some 90 degree corner supports and held them in place using a strop, which kept everything tight and square while the glue dried.

Step 1


Glue and screw 90 degree corner supports together. Do eight to make a full set, however, I only made four. You can use these again on another project.

Step 2

Measure and cut the timber. I've used 12mm ply cut into 400mm squares. To speed things up I got Eddie at Bunnings to cut my plywood sheets into lengths, 400mm wide for me. I've cut my box sides using a small skill saw, set on a 45 degree angle and with a straight edge to guide the saw.

Step 3

Glue the seams of the box and join together. You can use tape to hold the sides in place during construction, however I used a set of 90 degree clamps.

Step 4

Once the box is assembled, place a corner support on each corner and hold in place using a trailer strop. Tighten the box by tightening the strop. It's best to have a set of corner supports for the top and bottom of the box.

Step 5


Glue and screw the bottom of the box, then let the glue dry completely.

Step 6

Clean up any rough edges and mess left behind by the glue using sand paper or a belt sander.

Step 7

Paint with undercoat inside and out then apply two coats of paint, colour scheme of your choice.