The EZ mitre technique

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Blog entry by BritBoxmaker posted 07-26-2010 10:55 PM 50781 reads 481 times favorited 80 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello all. Well I seem to have whet the appetite a bit so here goes for a ‘novel’ technique for making mitred boxes. Its a bit like making a box out of paper, like they showed you at school, using a ‘net’. Only in 3D, with wood and a tablesaw (not sissors).

Well first comes the board

Its made from alternating strips of Maple and Rosewood of varying thickness. I won’t bore you with the details on how to make it suffice to say that all the corners must be square and be of uniform thickness ( British English used throughout my ramblings for those new to them), in this case 6mm thick.

Its length is twice the height of the box + the length of the top of the box + two saw cut widthes.
The width of the board is twice the height + the width of the box top + two saw cuts.

All milling is done on the reverse side of the board (which ends up being the inside of the box).

Step 1. Mill the slot for the base, 3mm in this case, 2mm from the bottom edge of the box. This slot is cut all around the edges of the board. The outside edges will become the bottom edges of the finished box, trust me I used to be an engineer.

Step 2. Cut a slot, all around again, wide enough to take the lipping and the cut that seperates the lid from the box, 9mm in this case. Probably better to do this one on a router table with a straight bit (cleaner finish).

Step 3. Tape over the face (box outside) of the board, with masking tape centred on a distance from the edge of the board which is the final height of the box ( 44mm ) plus the blade width ( 2mm in this case ) ie 46mm as seen in this pic. This tape is essential in order to hold things together once the mitres are cut.

Step 4. I know none of this makes sense at this stage but stick with it. Have I ever lied to you. Next cut the mitres. Set your table saw blade at 45°. Adjust the blade height above the table to the thickness of the board. Set the fence distance to 46mm from the topmost tip of the blade at its centre as it protrudes from the table with the fence on the right side of the blade. Cut 45° slots all around the board. Move the fence to the left of the blade and set the fence to blade tip distance to exactly the same distance (46mm) as before. Make cuts all around the board again. The underside of the board should now look like this.

Step 5. At this stage it will be all floppy and you’ll be glad you taped up where all the joins now are before you started. Using a knife cut out all four corners thus

And discard them

Step 6. Make a bottom for the box to fit the slots

Step 7. Now the box is effectively on its top at the moment. Apply glue to all mitred faces. Now, if you fold all the sides up, incorporating the bottom into the slots at the very edge as you go you will have made the box. Turn it the right way up and this is what you have

Step 8. Once the glue is dried take all the tape off, return your tablesaw blade to 90° and cut the top off. Lipping is applied to the inside of the bottom half of the box (mitred again) et voila

Yes well it seemed a whole lot easier when I actually did it. I expect there will be questions. I will do my best to fill in any grey areas.

Last post script. It occurs to me that this box making technique would be ideal for CNC milling.

To see how this technique can be adapted for patterns crossing the box separation cut at angles other than 90° see The Matrix blog.

For details about using router bits instead of the table saw to perform this technique see the EZ Mitre #1: Update - Using router bits blog. Having used this technique for some time now I find I prefer the router bit method, less to go wrong and only one mitre setup needed.

Many thanks to those who have tried this technique for mentioning me and for linking to this blog. I am glad you are finding it useful.

Be seeing you.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

80 comments so far

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4151 days

#1 posted 07-26-2010 11:06 PM

Right, either I explained it really well or nobody understands a word of it! I’m off to bed now. I’ll deal with any queries tomorrow.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 4035 days

#2 posted 07-26-2010 11:08 PM

I have never seen a box done this way. It is really slick. You make it look so easy! I guess the most important thing is having accurate measurements. Thanks for showing how you did it. I would have never been able to figure it out. I love it!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 5284 days

#3 posted 07-26-2010 11:15 PM

I am amazed at the precision!

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 4997 days

#4 posted 07-26-2010 11:18 PM

Nighty nite.
This is a pretty cute way of doing it. You are one clever dude.

Seriously, that is an extremely good looking box.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4692 days

#5 posted 07-26-2010 11:34 PM

You make it look simple Martyn ,A super blog and fantastic box . Thanks so much .Another one of your works of art for my favorites file.
It looks like the four outside pieces would form most of a box also?


View aflixa's profile


59 posts in 4290 days

#6 posted 07-26-2010 11:39 PM

Interesting approach.
I enjoyed the solution

-- Aflixa - Granja - Portugal

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 4401 days

#7 posted 07-26-2010 11:54 PM

Thanks for the great information
Maybe someday I can find the time to try it

Thanks for sharing


View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 4037 days

#8 posted 07-26-2010 11:58 PM

Looks easy but quality lies on two items. Table saw and the glue quality. But the training for the skill in precision cutting was the secret of them all. You really have good control of the hand. Thanks for posting. I will try this with miter saw. I have 12 inch capacity of mitering.

-- Bert

View Paul2274's profile


330 posts in 4227 days

#9 posted 07-27-2010 12:12 AM

That is fantastic. This one is going in the favorites for sure. Nice close up pictures too.


View Triumph1's profile


937 posts in 4194 days

#10 posted 07-27-2010 12:27 AM

What a great blog…and a sweet solution for making a box. Thanks Martyn….you not only an amazing box maker but also a great instructor.

-- Jeff , Wisconsin Please...can I stay in the basement a little longer, please!

View Pete_Jud's profile


424 posts in 4868 days

#11 posted 07-27-2010 12:42 AM

Great work, love it.

-- Life is to short to own an ugly boat.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5333 days

#12 posted 07-27-2010 02:20 AM

Hell, sure it looks easy when YOU do it. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 3995 days

#13 posted 07-27-2010 02:44 AM

Thanks for sharing your method! A beautiful box too!

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View WWilson's profile


106 posts in 4178 days

#14 posted 07-27-2010 02:47 AM

Capitol idea Governor!

This is probably the coolest, most novel way I have seen to build a box yet! Awesome work. Thank you so much for posting! Would you mind putting up another pic or 2 of how the lid fits into the top. Does it feel natural to lift off the lid?


View vicrider's profile


183 posts in 4013 days

#15 posted 07-27-2010 02:55 AM

I gotta try that!

And I, for one, would not be bored by an explanation of how you laid up that 1/4” stock (pardon the US english).

thanks for sharing.

-- vicrider

showing 1 through 15 of 80 comments

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