Canadian Woodworking

Pocket Business Card Holder

Author: Gary Gunthorpe
Illustration: James Provost
Published: December January 2008

If you sell the woodworking products that you make, it’s a good idea to always carry your business cards with you.


After all, you never know when you will meet someone who could be a potential client. And, what better way to wow them than with a sample of your work.

These business card holders also make wonderful gifts, whether for family or friends, or as tokens of appreciation given to clients. The design for this project is simple yet flexible. You can use any single wood, or a combination of several different woods. It is sized to store approximately 25 standard sized (2″ x 3 ½”) business cards. It’s just as quick to mill pieces for half a dozen card holders as it is to mill the pieces for one.

Bear in mind that the pieces for this project are quite small, so take care when cutting them on the table saw or band saw. With a band saw there is less chance of kick back on small stock, and it does an excellent job of re-sawing thin pieces, thus conserving those precious scraps of wood. Whichever tool you use, it’s always best to use oversized stock from which to cut the smaller pieces. You may also want to make a small crosscut sled to safely handle these parts (see “Crosscut Sled”, Feb/Mar ’07, Issue #46).

Prepare the Project Pieces

• There are two parts to the holder, a top cover assembly and a bottom assembly. You will need some 1/8″, 3/16″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ thick stock. Assemble your stock, ensuring that the pieces are sufficiently large to be safely cut to final dimension on the table saw or band saw.

• Optionally cut all the project pieces from one piece of 1/2″ stock at least 6″ wide and 12″ long (see Single Piece Cutting Diagram). Rip off the bottom rail (B), then thickness or hand plane the stock down to ⅜” thick, and cut off the top rail (G). Thickness plane the stock down to 3/16″ and cut off the bottom base (A), bottom sides (C), top lid (E), and top back (F). Finally thickness plane the stock down to ⅛” thick and rip off the bottom support (D) and top sides (H).

• With small pieces like this you will want to smooth the milled edges by hand using a block plane or sandpaper. Do not attempt to smooth the edges on a jointer.

• If you are using various discards for the project pieces, matching the bottom base (A) and top lid (E) will give your project a more refined and balanced look.

• Once all the pieces are milled drill a #50 hole (or .07″) centered and 3/16″ in from the end of each of the sides.

Assemble the Holder

• Apply glue to the sides of the bottom base (A) and the bottom and ends of the bottom rail (B). If the wood you are using is porous, pre-apply a light coat to the ends of the rail, allow it to dry for 15 minutes, then apply a top coat of glue.

• Place rail (B) on one end of the bottom base (A) and align the bottom sides (C) flush with it. The base should be arranged so that when the holder is complete the grain will match with the top lid (E).

• Clamp and allow the glue to dry.

• Wrap a 2 ½” x 2 1/16″ x ¼” spacer with packing tape.

• Apply glue to the top, bottom and ends of the top rail (G); pre-glue if required.

• Place the top rail (G) on either end of the top back (F).

• Apply glue to the edges of both top sides (H) and place them along the sides of the top back (F). Use the spacer to help hold them upright.

• Align the top lid (E) over the whole and clamp the sandwich using spring clamps. Again make sure to arrange the top lid so that its grain matches the bottom base (A). Be sure to remove the spacer and clean up any glue beads before they harden.

Assemble and Finish

• Attach two spacers (H) to the bottom sides (C) and trim with a chisel, so that the top assembly sits on them and is flush with the bottom sides.

• Position the top assembly and bottom assembly together so that a small space (about the width of a playing card) is left between the bottom base (A) and top lid (E).

• Using the #50 holes in the top sides (C) as a guide, drill two #55 holes (.052″) ¼” deep into the top rail (G).

• Insert two ⅜” #16 solid brass escutcheon pins to act as the hinge pins.

• Round over all of the edges and the ends and finish sand to 180 grit. You can leave the pin heads on or sand them flush.

• Soak the wood in Danish oil, wipe dry, and allow to sit for a week or so. This pops the grain out. Then apply two coats of wiping polyurethane followed by a coat of wax rubbed in with #0000 steel wool.

Now all that’s left is to stock the card holder with your business cards. A bit of practice in front of a mirror and you’ll quickly master the art of nonchalantly flicking open the holder and thumbing out a card or two.


Danish Oil –

Drill Bits, Escutcheon Pins, Polyurethane –

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