Introduction: Quick and Easy Mitered Box With a Lid - I Made It at TechShop

This simple technique requires no fasteners and yeilds a box with a perfectly fitted lid.  The mitered corners are quick and easy and the glued assembly requires no fasteners.  Use this technique for making jewelry boxes from pre-veneered MDF or any solid wood from pine to exotic hardwood. It is also an excellent technique for making a stand for a collectable.  The demo box was made with scrap MDF.  Total time from beginning to end was about 15 minutes though it will take longer for your first try.

Step 1: Begin by Cutting All 6 Sides

The sizes should be the exact measurements of your finished box.  In this step, all the cuts are with square cut edges.  If you are using a veneered material, you will want to plan your cuts carefully in order to insure the grain matches at the corners and creates the illusion of a solid block of the veneer wood. Practice with some scrap MDF.  1/2" MDF was use for this demo.

Pics include using a RH tilt saw and a LH tilt saw.  The good saw was at Techshop, the saw w/o the blade guard was at work.  Honestly, Techshop has better equipment than at work.  Be sure to use a push stick if your pieces are small.

For newbies, RH tilt and LH tilt describes the direction the saw tilts when cuttng the side bevels (aka miters ... but let's not get all bothered as to which is which).

Step 2: Mitering the Pieces

Crank the tablesaw blade to 45 degrees, set the width of the cut to cut the miter exactly. Try to not cut the top corner of the edge because the blade can splinter the veneer. Carefully, pass the pieces through the saw and cut the miters.  When cutting the short edges of the sides, be especially careful. You can use the top or bottom as a push piece for safety as I did, or get out the cross cut sled. You will have an easier time making accurate cuts if you miter all the same length edges with the same fence setting. 

Step 3: Assembly

Begin assembly by applying making tape to the top and bottom pieces.  Make sure the tape passes at least a couple of inches past all edges.  I like to use 2" wide masking tape, but you can use as narrow  3/4" tape if you prefer.  Lay the top (or bottom - they are both the same at this point) down on the table with the sharp edges of the miters down. 

Step 4: Gluing

The assembly from this point is very fast.  I like to pre-glue the bottom and sides using a good carpenter's wood glue.  You only need to glue one side of the joint.  If you glue both sides, you will have more mess to clean up.

Run a bead of  glue all around the bottom and on one of the narrow edge of the sides.  Make sure to glue the same edge of each of the sides if you are using veneered stock.  You don't want to grab the next piece and find that the 2 joining edges both have glue and the other coner has none.  If this happens, don't fret, just pick up your glue and apply it to the dry corner. Don't glue the top pice yet.

Once the glue is on the edges, pick up the sides one at a time and place them miter to miter.  Pull up the tape on each side as you go and add a piece of tape at the corner.

Step 5: Attaching the Top

The last assembly step is putting on the top.  Run a bead of glue all around the top miter of the side peices, place the top on and pull the tape down.  This is the time to pick up the box and man-handle the pieces for a perfect fit.  If you work quickly, the glue is still wet and the pices can slip sideways a bit as necessary.  You can also add extra tape if you didn't pull the tape hard enough to close the joint.  if you worked clean, take a 5 to 10 minute break.  If you were sloppy, get out a moist rag and clean up as much ooze as you can.

If you care, you can celan up the ooze in the inside before assembly of the top.  Take a moist rag wrapped around a pointy thing and do your best ... but don't go crazy.  it's best to finish the assembly before the joints set. You can clean up the inside after cutting the lid in the next step.

Step 6: Cutting the Lid

If your box is well taped and you took that 10 minute break, you can immediately cut the top.  The advantage of doing the top cut early is that the glue ooze on the inside can still be cleaned up once the top is cut off. Make sure that you have masking tape on the short edge of the top.  I neglected that step and had to tape the short edge after cutting - you can clearly see my oops in the edge between the blade and the fence ... no tape! 

If your saw has a blade guard installed, you will have to remove it for this step.

Set the fence to the desired height of the lid.  I used 1-1/4" for this demo.  Stand the box on the side and cut each of the sides, turning the box with the last cut facing you each time (this reduces chip-out when using veneered stock).

Use a damp rag and clean the glue ooze on the inside of the box.  You can use a pointy thing (a chop stick, or screwdriver) under your rag if you really want to get into the corner.

Once you cut the lid and cleaned up the ooze, set the box aside until the glue sets.  This takes about 1 hour with MDF and longer with hardwoods. Overnight is best but do it sooner if your joint is messy and you want to clean up under the tape with a damp rag.  if you worked clean, you can easily sand off any glue smudge after the joints are set.

NOTE:  Omit this step if you are making a stand or platform instead of a box.

Step 7: Last Step - Remove the Tape

Now that the glue is set, remove the tape and you box is ready for sanding and finishng.  When setting your hinges, don't forget your masking tape.  Tape the lid to the body and install the hinges to the temporarily assembled pices for a perfect alignment. You might want to add a layer or two of tape along the top-to-bottom joint if you are pre-fitting the hinges before finishing. That way, you build in a slight gap to accout for the finsh thickness and your lid will close without pinching the hinge edge.

If you were careful in your cutting and assembly, once the edge is sanded, the joint will be invisible.

This safe and easy version of miter cutting (aka beveling) is great for beginners. The technisue I typically use is in production work is this one:

I made it at TechShop

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