Picture of Oak Jewelry Box featuring Box Joint Construction
Jewelry Box 3.jpg
When I decided to make a jewelry box as a birthday gift for my daughter, my goal was to make it as distinctive as possible. So, since I always enjoy learning a new woodworking technique, I decided to teach myself how to create box joints.

The box joint, also called a finger joint, is an aesthetically pleasing form of joinery that turns a simple box into a beautiful piece of woodworking. While similar to the more elegant dovetail joint, box joints are more easily fabricated and actually provide a joint of superior strength. The technique used to create them, as presented in this instructable, is straightforward and relatively easy to master.

Step 1: Tool and Material Checklist

Picture of Tool and Material Checklist
JB open left view.jpg
To build a similar project you will need the following tools and materials:

Tool List:

Table Saw
Stacked Dado Blade set
Box Joint Jig - plans for building a shop made jig are available online (Google search) or one can be purchased ready made.
Block Plane - for shaping the curved lid
Electric Drill
3/4" Chisel
Small Phillips head screwdriver

Material list:

1/2" x 4" x 36" Oak for Box sides (for a box with overall dimensions of 11 1/2"L x 6 1/2"D x 3 1/2"H / interior dim. 10"x 5"x 3 1/8")
1" x 8" x 12" Oak for Top
1/4" x 4" x 48" Oak for upper and lower trays (lower fixed tray and upper removable tray each 1 1/2" H)
1/8" hardboard for box and upper tray bottoms
felt to line upper and lower trays
brass hinges - 1" wide
Titebond III (a slower curing glue)

Thor Hunter9 months ago
Very nice job looks great. I'll have to expand my horizons and play in the shop a little more
Elliot Lord10 months ago

It's a beautiful piece of work and very thorough instructions. Thank you.

leah141 year ago

I have not made it yet but i am making it for my senior project and it is a fun expierience and i really enjoy doing it!

daytona6752 years ago
Nice - but dovetail joints are stronger...
Box joints are stronger than dovetail joints. Dovetail joints can look nicer, or display greater craftsmanship skills. I don't really have a dog in this fight though because I've made plenty of both kinds of joints, and many others too.
Besides... it's a jewelry box. I'm pretty sure either joint will provide the extraordinary strength required to put rings and bracelets within :-)
Dovetails may have more strength in terms of construction, but finger/box joints usually have more gluing area. Regardless, both are strong joints if built properly.

I have to say, the box joints look a lot better in this style; Great work.
KentM (author)  daytona6752 years ago
This is an often debated issue, especially since the shape of the dovetail provides a locking mechanism should the glue fail. Here is a link to a test that is really interesting: http://woodgears.ca/dovetail/strength.html

Thanks for taking the time to comment.
duggerpato2 years ago
This project has inspired me to go and make my own. I noticed your box sits on 4 little feet that don't seem to be noted anywhere in the instructable. Did you just take 4 squares and glue them to the bottom?
KentM (author)  duggerpato2 years ago
That's exactly what I did. Simple but effective.
duggerpato2 years ago
So what did you do with the little square leftover from routing all the inside edges for the hardboard? Wood filler? Wood glue with matching leftover sawdust? (you can see the tiny square gap in the photos above on the corners)
KentM (author)  duggerpato2 years ago
You're very observant! I just used wood filler (which I really don't like very much) and sanded down with a high grit paper. It turned out 'OK', and most people wouldn't notice the small difference in color (except maybe you and me).
blueaxe2 years ago
Very nice work. Simple but elegant. Fine woodworking skills.
pat425862 years ago
Sweet instructable. I made my own with a few differences. First, it was all scrap plywood so box joints would look squirrely, so I did a handmade veneer trim. Also, the top is five pieces glued together.
jewelry box.jpg
pfred2 pat425862 years ago
I've cut box joints into plywood. I just use a wider spacing so the plywood doesn't all chip out.
KentM (author)  pat425862 years ago
I get a lot of satisfaction doing projects that I can give as gifts. I'm sure the special lady in your life appreciates all the time and effort that went into the jewelry box you made for her.
I like your use of veneer. It gives you a lot of options for choosing a unique or exotic wood at a much more reasonable cost.
13blue2 years ago
Beautiful box. Period. I've been looking for something I could adapt to house my pipes and tobacco and this is it. Fantastic.
gare84212 years ago
Very nice project! Clean clear instructions.
Edgar2 years ago
I have a neat pack of Instructables to talk about, today on my Blog, and your's one of them! :)
Bill WW2 years ago
Nice project and Instructable, Kent.

I have been woodworking for a while (60 years since my first project) but never did box joints. Just started to learn a week ago, made a decent jig for my table mounted router from plans in Wood magazine. Also made a jig for the table saw, but it is no match for the one you made - yours is beautiful.

Now I will start on some projects.

Thanks for the helpful Instructable.
KentM (author)  Bill WW2 years ago
I really appreciate the kind words from someone with your years of experience in woodworking. Thank you.
Bill WW KentM2 years ago
There were big gaps in my woodworking experience since the soap box racer I built when I was 10. But since I retired woodworking has become my primary hobby. If you read any of the woodworking magazines you have seen my jigs and methods in the "reader's tips" sections.

Bill Wells
Olympia WA

soap box.jpg
bluejeannes2 years ago
Excellent job!—clear instructions and photos. I have been making jewelry boxes for many years, but I must confess I have not tried a box-jointed one.

If I may offer one piece of advice: Instead of using felt to line the tray and box, try velvet or suede cloth. (I have even used real suede.) These materials, IMHO, are richer and more classy looking than felt or flocked surfaces.
KentM (author) 2 years ago
I just want to thank everyone for their generous comments. The response to this instructable has been a very pleasant surprise.
JDTagish2 years ago
This looks really beautiful, and a clear and well written Instructable! Great job!!!
pfred22 years ago
You should have made a raised panel lid. They are a little more work but I think they are worth it. Pretty easy to do really. Solid box lids often have movement issues, warping or shrinking. The next time I make a floating panel maybe I'll remember to document it so I can post an article about it.

Sometimes I make a 6 sided box then saw the top off. The larger boxes in this picture were all done that way.


This one too


I'm not sure if I want to show this picture because it isn't finished yet, so it doesn't look so good, but it is the only picture I can find of a box I made with a floating panel lid.


First I made a fake raised panel box, turns out the real thing isn't harder to do really.


Here are some really big box joints


I did put up an article on this site about how I do my box joints, my jig is simpler than yours


Anyhow, try to do raised panels, they look fancy, and they're nice, but they're really not too hard to do. I think the hardest part is deciding how you want to hold the frame together. I doweled mine, but I've been meaning to try splines.
q.piper2 years ago
What a lovely creation! The joints look flawless. Congratulations...your daughter will surely treasure this jewelry box!
poofrabbit2 years ago
Wonderful instructable!! You made me feel that even I could pull this off. :)
mikeasaurus2 years ago
That looks fantastic, the plaque is a very nice touch.
Phil B2 years ago
Excellent. I hope your daughter likes it.