Canadian Woodworking

9 Neckties: Turn Your Tie Collection Into a Centerpiece

Author: Drew Jessup
Photos: Crystal Jessup (
Published: December January 2018

We all know ties are the focal point of a man’s suit. In the meantime, why not show them off with this easy-to-make project?


  • COST

This tie box was specifically designed to neatly display collections of men’s ties by rolling them and placing them in an individual block. This project offers an alternative to creasing or wrinkling ties by draping them on clothes hangers or folding them up. This particular box was designed to either hang on a wall or sit on top of a dresser or preparation area. It features rabbet joinery using dado and rabbet cuts to conceal the unfavourable appearance of end grain, while keeping a sleek, modern look. The box features nine display areas, but could be customized for holding a different number of ties, or even items other than neckties.

The outside dimensions of the boxes I make are 12″ high x 12″ wide x 3-1/2″ deep. The shelves are cut to size once the outer structure of the box has been built. The four sides are 3/4″ thick and the shelves are 3/8″ thick. I use a 3/4″ thick back, but a 1/2″ thick back would work fine, as long as you don’t rout the keyhole slots to hang the tie box through the front surface of the back.

Box Assembly
Use parchment paper over each clamp surface to prevent any glue squeeze-out from sticking the box to the clamp. Ensure the shell is square before leaving it to dry.

Rout the Keyhole Slots
Jessup has developed a jig to make routing the keyholes more efficient and accurate, but to do just one tie box you can simplify the process. With the back fixed in place, all that is needed is a straight edge for the base of the plunge router for reference, and a start-and-stop block to limit the travel of the router.

Machine Half Laps in Shelves
Be sure to use an offcut at the back when making your pass through - this will prevent any snipe from affecting a finished shelf. Jessup does this operation with a dedicated jig, but a mitre gauge with a fence to fully support the workpiece can also be used.

Install the Back
Make sure to have enough parchment paper to cover the back of the box, as well as eight off-cuts to better distribute the clamp pressure and prevent marking on the finished paint.

Finished Shelves
The machined and painted shelves are ready for assembly. You could also opt for a different finish or wood species when creating the shelves, so they either match or complement the shell. Simply slot the shelves together and insert them into the shell.

Insert the Shelving
Jessup likes it best to have the continuous edge running horizontally. As long as they are cut to length accurately, friction will keep the shelves in place during use.

Planning and cutting the outer box

I dressed the maple to 3/4″ thick, jointed one edge and ripped it to 3-1/2″. At this point the planning process started. I choose the section of the board that will lead to the most seamless grain when all four sides are assembled for the shell. As a result the board is cut in a sequence of bottom, side, top, then side. Rough cut the parts to length with a mitre saw, then cut the sides to finished length. We’ll cut the top and bottom to finished length after the rabbets have been cut into the sides.

Make the rabbet cuts in the sides to accept the bottom and top, then machine the rabbets in all four parts to accept the plywood back. All the rabbets should be 3/8″ deep. Set the depth to 3/8″ and make the cuts. Now that we know the depth of the rabbets we can cut the top and bottom to finished length.

Next, sand what will become the inside surfaces of the box, and apply a few coats of finish to the inner surfaces of the four shell pieces; I used a satin water-based polyurethane. By applying the finish at this point it reduces any drips or bubbling that would occur if finishing after assembly. The shell of the box is now ready for assembly. Assemble the shell of the tie box, making sure the unit is square. Clamp and let the glue set. Sand the outer surface of the shell so the end grain is flush with the sides. Apply polyurethane to the outside and front edge of the shell. The next step is to cut the back of the box and the shelving.

The back panel

Cut the plywood back to fit inside the rabbets that were machined in the box shell. Ensure the fit is accurate, then rout the wall hanging slots in the back with a keyhole bit. Locate the slots in the middle of the back, and space them 6″ apart for easy measurement while hanging.

The shelves

Plane the shelving material to final thickness, then cut it 2-3/4″ wide, and to length so the parts just barely fit inside the shell. Keep in mind that the height and width may be slightly different dimensions. Mark the parts to reduce confusion down the road.

Install a 3/8″-wide dado blade and adjust the height of the blade to 1-7/8″. Set the fence to locate the cuts evenly across the length of the workpieces. I use a templated 1/2″ plywood jig with its own fence perpendicular to the table saw fence to cut mating parts at the same time. This could also be done with a support fence attached to a mitre gauge. Clamp the shelves against the jig fence or mitre gauge and make the initial cut. Turn the shelving end for end, and repeat the cut on the opposite side. To reduce the chance of chipping as the blade exits the workpiece, you can clamp a piece of scrap to the rear face of the shelf pieces. It will support the back side of the workpiece and drastically reduce chipping. Sand the shelving and back to prepare for paint.

Applying the finish to the tie box

I applied two coats of primer to the shelving pieces and back, sanding between each coat. It’s helpful to sand with a 220-grit after the first coat to ensure all grit is smoothed before the next coat is applied. I then apply two coats of paint, repeating the sanding process with 400-grit sandpaper. This ensures a smooth finish coat. After the paint has dried the box is ready for final assembly.

The final stretch

Apply glue to the rabbets on all four sides of the shell. Insert the back and ensure the routed slots face the correct way. I used two small off-cuts at each corner (eight in total) to assist with clamping the back into its final position. One off-cut is placed across the corner, at the front of the shell, while the other offcut is placed near the corner of the back. Clamp the four corners of the back and allow the glue to set. The last step is to assemble the friction-fit shelving and insert the shelf assembly into the front of the shell. The last step is to hang the box on the wall and fill it with your favourite tie collection.

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