Step 6: Finger Joints - A Laser Cutter Friendly Building Technique

Picture of Finger Joints - A Laser Cutter Friendly Building Technique
At the hardware store I picked up stock in a variety of widths.  3.5" (9cm), 2.5" (6cm). 5.5" (14cm) and I found 3" (8cm) wide stock at an art/hobby store.  I used stock that was 1/4" (.6cm) thick so 5.5" (14cm) wide stock was as wide of a piece as I could get easily in store.  The back of my case is obviously larger than 12.5x5.5 so I needed to piece together a few panels to create the back.

I used the finger joint technique for the construction of this project.  I chose a consistent joint size to use across the whole project - making small adjustments to areas that overlap or might give me trouble.  Some of the pieces will be placed at right angles to others so I chose 1/4" as the depth of the finger joint - the depth of the stock I'm using.   I decided to make the width of the finger joints 1/2". 

The idea in creating finger joints is to make two pieces that interlock perfectly so they can be glued together.  Material needs to be removed from one piece and left intact on the opposite piece so the two panels interlock.

I used this technique for every piece on the project.   The selves and supports were created in the same way.  I cut joints on one edge of the shelf and correlating holes in the back panel of the box as well as on the side supports. 

The construction of finger joints is not that dissimilar to putting together legos - they press together and if cut well fit very tightly. 

At this point, you need to start thinking about the depth of each side of the case.  Things to take into consideration:
- Depth of objects
- Inside dimension of the suitcase
- The stock you are using

This is the point where you figure out exactly how deep each shelf will be.

While creating the layout on my computer, I used a color-code system for the different widths of wood so I could quickly identify the depth of shelves and side panels.