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Make a quick box using box joints

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I wanted to make a small box for a project and I wanted strong joints. A mitered and glued box wouldn't be strong enough for what i had in mind so I tried box joints. 

There are all kinds of commercially available jigs and tools to assist in making box joints (or dovetails) but I made my own jig quickly and easily with the router table at TechShop and some scrap wood.

Tools needed:
Router table and a 1/4" straight bit
Compound miter saw or table saw
Planer/Joiner*
Belt sander*
Straight file
Some clamps
*optional

Materials:
3-4" wide board
Scrap board

I made it at TechShop!
 
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Step 1: Prepare the sides

Plane your board to the desired thickness. I used 2.5" wide maple planed to about 3/8" thickness.

Cut four sides. Label each piece lightly in pencil: front, back, left and right. It helps to put the label at the top of each piece to aid in orientation later.

If it helps, lay them out in the way they will be assembled.


jgeidl1 year ago
Nice job.
Thanks for showing this technique! I'll remember it because some day I will need it!
trstark661 year ago
Nicely done! Anyone know how to do this "old school"???
If by "old school" you mean by hand, this has never been a hand tool joint. It was developed with the advent of machinery when wood crates were used the way we use cardboard boxes today. Anyone willing to go to this much trouble would use a dovetail joint.

The vikings and the celts used a much simplified version which only had one or two straight tongues but that is the closest you come to old school.
On the other hand, a dovetail joint is really easy to do by hand. If you want a great example, check out the Woodwright's shop, with Roy Underhill. On several episodes he makes dovetail joints and he makes it look so easy you'll think it's magic.

Though it is actually pretty easy to make them on your own, though you'll need practice to make it look as good as Roy.
When I did woodwork at school we were made to do all of our joints by hand (presumably just so it took us hours rather than minutes).

We did it by cutting several vertical lines between each finger to remove as much of the wood as possible using a backsaw then we chiseled away what was left.

It was laborious but pretty effective and I got some very tight and accurate joints.

Hope this could help.
sconner11 year ago
Try backing the project piece with some scrap to prevent the chipping on exit of the cutters.
Uptonb1 year ago
Router is much better for making box joints than a table saw, but only if you make a jig.

http://www.routerworkshop.com/boxjoints.html
pfred21 year ago
tim_n pfred21 year ago
but nice to see the same thing done on a Router - didn't even consider it, which is stupid because this looks like a nice easy way to do them. I don't have a table saw (or room for one really!) only a electric circular hand saw.
pfred2 tim_n1 year ago
I've cut box joints both ways. I tried a router and that was it. Since then I've gone back to doing many on a table saw. I wouldn't even consider using a router for box joints today. I guess if you're only making one box a router is OK. I make 10 at a time though. I stack all my sides for each box and cut them at once too. Zip, zip. Nothing to it!
tim_n1 year ago
Excellent! I was just figuring on buying a bandsaw to do things like this, I really need to get the router I got for christmas out and have a play!
Very nice and easy to follow structable .....very nice looking box ......last line in step 3 very good advice ...now maybe a nice relief carving on the lid? ....ah but maple is a hard wood to carve ..did i miss a picture of it with a finish on it ?...keep up the good work
That looks great1 Awesome box! Very cleanly done :)
jdege1 year ago
Rather than cutting a rabbit and gluing in the bottom you could cut a groove and let the bottom float. This would allow the bottom and the sides to expand independently, as the humidity changes through the seasons.

In a small box, this doesn't matter, but if you scale up you'll see cracking or warping if you glue the bottom to the sides.
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