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Thread: I wanna make some simple wooden boxes

  1. #1

    I wanna make some simple wooden boxes

    Nothing fancy. Just small wooden boxes, with lids. No dovetails, nor fancy joints, just nice wooden boxes, with lids. I've got a lot of small pieces of highly figured domestic and exotic woods, so I want to use that wood for the lids.

    Kinda like what you'd see here:
    http://tinyurl.com/9y2o7

    I have no idea where to start. I've got a full line of shop equipment, and I'm getting a router and table this weekend. These can't be that hard.

    I don't really want the lid to hinge. I'd like it to fit on the top snug.

    I have no idea where to start. How to round the corners (sand?). For the fancy lid, do I just glue my fancy wood onto another piece, and then route around the edge?

    There must be a basic book out there on simple box making...but I'll bet they all deal with fancy box making...meaning more involved joints.

    Here's another style I like:
    http://tinyurl.com/7f3jv

  2. #2
    Well some of the things that you will need to contend with are what type of tools do you already have... the simplest joint out othere is the butt joint You just make sure that the "long" sides are the exact length and the "short" sides are the same length as well. Problem is that the joint strength is poor due to the end grain to long grain... These are very prone to breaking over time without something to strengthen it...

    Next step would be mitering the corners, fancier, but also prettier The joint is still not very strong, that is why you usually see woodworkers hide biscuits in the joint... adds strength, provides good alignment but you will need a biscuit cutter and some accurate way to cut the 45 angle.

    On the miters you could also create splines on the edges, but that will require a jig to cut the splines on the tablesaw.

    You already mentioned that you do not want to get into dovetails etc...

    I just remembered that there are the Miller Dowels... That would be butt joint and drilling for the Miller Dowel... I guess it depends if you care about the end grain of the dowel showing up ... But this would be quick

    http://www.millerdowel.com/

    Let us know if you have any other questions.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Marietta GA
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    958
    Hello!Both pictures you gave show mitered ends and I would guess they were assembled complete and then the tops band sawn apart. Probably have thin stock liners to realeign the top to the bottom The boxes look to have thin walls so bisquits are probably too big. The top looks like a 1/4 inch shop made veneer.

    Given the above and not knowing exactly what you have in shop tools.. I'm going to assume a table or radial saw.

    On Highland Hardwares web site is a book on basic box building that covers the miter joint. http://www.tools-for-woodworking.com...OD&ProdID=1667

    Miter joints like to wiggle a lot when you put them together during glue up. You will need to make your self some jigs to keep things square. Simple jig like what you would make for a picture frame. A ply base with some kind of 90 degree cornor pieces with a little space at the tip of the two 90 degree pieces so that you can align the joint. Then a wedged opposite cornor against a stop block.

    I recommend a splined miter joint as they are fairly easy to make and add considerable strength to the joint. You make a jig that hold the box at a 45 degree angle to the table saw and run it over the blade. Then you put a small spline piece in the slot cut by the saw, glued and then pared flush. Usually the spline is made with contrasting wood so it adds to the beauty of the box.

    There are a couple of books by Taige Frid that woud help take any mysteries out of my descriptions above and are also sold by Highland. He covers the miter joint very well.

    I hope I've helped. Boxes are really neat to make and make even better presents!

    Good Luck!

  4. #4
    Ditto to what Terry said. I made my first jewelry boxes for this past Christmas and used the miter joint and splines. (here is my post) http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showpost...62&postcount=1

    Biggest issues are getting the miter corners exactly 90 degrees, and keeping things square when you glue up. But don't let these issues stop you, I worked with scrap pieces until I got the angles just right.

    Be happy to answer any specific questions you might have.

    Mike

  5. #5
    To me, the easiest way to join small boxes is with a rabbet joint. I use this often for small boxes, and is easily cut any number of ways. I usually do it with a router table and a 1/2 straight bit on stock up to that thickness. You can also rabbet the top edge and make a drop-in lid to fit. I recently made one just like this in spalted maple with a jatoba lid and spalted maple handle.
    For the bottoms I run a groove about 1/4 to 3/8 inch up from the bottom edge, and use 1/4 birch or maple ply. An easy way to dress up the inside is to glue or tape a piece of suede, velvet, felt, etc to a piece of card cut to size and drop that in to cover the bottom.

  6. #6

    Locking Box joint

    You can make thin walled boxes with a locking box joint or as some call it a locking rabbet joint. It is cut on the table saw. If you use 3/8" thick stock for the sides and your TS blade cuts a 1/8" kerf then you are all set. Here is an example of a box I made with this joint.

    Here is another:

    The top and bottom set in dados cut around the inside surfaces. The lid is cut off after the box is assembled. It makes for a perfect match up even if your box is less than perfectly square. The boxes you linked to may tend to have lids that warp as they have end grain glued to long grain. The seasonal moisture variations may cause the lid to warp or split. The lid in my box floats so seasonal variations don't cause a problem.
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Beadle
    ...
    Miter joints like to wiggle a lot when you put them together during glue up. You will need to make your self some jigs to keep things square. Simple jig like what you would make for a picture frame. A ply base with some kind of 90 degree cornor pieces with a little space at the tip of the two 90 degree pieces so that you can align the joint. Then a wedged opposite cornor against a stop block. ...
    All due respect, Terry, but clamps and jigs and such aren't always necessary for simple mitered boxes. I've have very good success using tape (I use clear shipping tape, but masking tape will also work). If the four sides are laid end-to-end, face up, then taped into a long, single unit, it's pretty simple to add glue to each joint and "roll" the whole assembly into a box. A little tape to close it off, and you're good to go. Completely solves the "wiggle" problem you mentioned. Here are a couple boxes with mitered corners done this way. (Cherry Wave Box, Lacewood Box) I "discovered" this trick, then read about it in the Box Making Basics book that you recommended. (I second that recommenation, BTW...it's a great book, especially for someone starting out on boxes. I highly recommend it for someone in Dee Dee's position.)

    Dee Dee, for rounding the corners like the box you showed a picture of, you can sand or rasp the corners round. Personally, I'd use a roundover bit in the router table, since it's faster and more consistent. There are also hand planes made to do the same type of thing, but I can never figure out how to plug a hand plane into the wall. I'd still expect to touch-up with sandpaper after the router, though.

    Also, as others have mentioned, a lot of times you can build the box as a single unit, then cut the top "free" on the tablesaw or bandsaw. This is an easy way to ensure the lid is the same size as the box. The Box Making Basics book explains this and many other tricks to make things easier.

    Hope this helps -

    - Vaughn

  8. #8
    Thanks gang.
    Gonna get me a book, and have some fun.
    Rather than have the whole box a show-piece, I just wanted the top to be of something special.

    Just glue on a piece of 1/8" fancy wood, and then round over the edges?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Dee Dee Martin
    Thanks gang.
    ...Rather than have the whole box a show-piece, I just wanted the top to be of something special.

    Just glue on a piece of 1/8" fancy wood, and then round over the edges?
    Yeppers, for a box like the one pictured in the first link in your original post, that'd be about it (although the wood may be a bit thicker than 1/8"). On bigger lids (or other panel assemblies), you can start getting into potential swelling and shrinking issues when you glue a thin piece onto a thicker piece. As I understand it, these issues are lessened if the substrate (the piece you glue the fancy wood onto) is plywood or MDF, but then you have to deal with the exposed edge. Someone here with more experience gluing veneers (and a bit thicker) can probably chime in with better advice.

    I think you're taking the right track by getting a hold of a good box making book. I had already made a couple on my own before getting the Basics book mentioned earlier, and after going through the book, I was able to see a lot of things I could be doing to make it easier on myself. (Also found a few things I was already doing right, like finish sanding the inside before gluing the box together.)

    Have fun -

    - Vaughn

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Windsor, MO
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    761
    Belay all that nonsense about biscuits and splines. Just get a lock miter bit for your router table. Makes putting together 45 deg mitered corners easy as pie. There are some examples of how they work here:

    http://www.mlcswoodworking.com/shops.../bt_lockm.html

    http://www.binkyswoodworking.com/DrawerLockMiter.html

    It makes a strong joint and won't slide around when you're clamping it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Location
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    4,906
    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan
    Yeppers, for a box like the one pictured in the first link in your original post, that'd be about it (although the wood may be a bit thicker than 1/8"). On bigger lids (or other panel assemblies), you can start getting into potential swelling and shrinking issues when you glue a thin piece onto a thicker piece. As I understand it, these issues are lessened if the substrate (the piece you glue the fancy wood onto) is plywood or MDF, but then you have to deal with the exposed edge. Someone here with more experience gluing veneers (and a bit thicker) can probably chime in with better advice.
    That pretty much describes my method: include a rabbet in the lid to inset the top piece and hide the edge. Then the top "show" surface can be anything from veneer to solid...all the edge treatment is done on the top edge of the sides.
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Dee Dee Martin View Post
    Nothing fancy. Just small wooden boxes, with lids. No dovetails, nor fancy joints, just nice wooden boxes, with lids. I've got a lot of small pieces of highly figured domestic and exotic woods, so I want to use that wood for the lids.

    Kinda like what you'd see here:
    http://tinyurl.com/9y2o7

    I have no idea where to start. I've got a full line of shop equipment, and I'm getting a router and table this weekend. These can't be that hard.

    I don't really want the lid to hinge. I'd like it to fit on the top snug.

    I have no idea where to start. How to round the corners (sand?). For the fancy lid, do I just glue my fancy wood onto another piece, and then route around the edge?

    There must be a basic book out there on simple box making...but I'll bet they all deal with fancy box making...meaning more involved joints.

    Here's another style I like:
    http://tinyurl.com/7f3jv

    The link as you provide is not working? May it has expire or some other reasons.

  13. #13
    There are plenty of books out there to get you started:
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw...making&x=0&y=0

  14. #14
    I bought this book and found it informative. It takes you through the most basic of box's to slightly more advanced. Provides decent amount of information, cut lists, etc.
    Not bad for $13
    http://www.amazon.com/Box-Making-Bas...9804358&sr=8-1
    fledgling weekend warrior

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Macon, GA
    Posts
    244
    Quote Originally Posted by henry kemp View Post
    The link as you provide is not working? May it has expire or some other reasons.
    Not to burst a bubble, but the original post is from 2006.

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