Dovetail Bible Box #1: Milled Parts

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by OutPutter posted 02-02-2010 07:34 AM 15049 reads 2 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Dovetail Bible Box series Part 2: Box Bottom Blowout »

This blog will document the process I’m currently using to build bible boxes. I generally make a box large enough to hold a bible and give it to a person who has either been recently baptized or married, or in some other way come to my attention. My hope is that I can build a box that will last long enough and be strong enough that there’s never a good reason to get rid of it. Then it can always remind the person receiving it that it came with a bible and hopefully that little reminder will always be there no matter if the person drifts away from Christ for a few years or not.

In my effort to make a box that will last, I’ve come to a few conclusions about how I want to make the boxes. The first has to do with the lid. In order to prevent the lid from weakening the hinges by swinging too far accidentally, there needs to be a mechanism for stopping the lid from opening too far. I’ve seen some hinges that will stop part way open but the cost makes them prohibitive. I have to keep an eye on the expense so I can give more boxes away. That means that I have to use something else to keep the lid and hinges from being a week spot. I’ve found that by making the lid larger than the box, at least having the back of the lid overhang the back side of the box, keeps the lid from opening too much. This allows for affordable hinges also.

The next part of the box that I feel can be a weakness is the bottom. I’ve always thought of a bottom made of plywood to be weaker because if enough pressure is put on the ply, it can crack or blow out the dado that holds it. I know, who goes and steps on a box right? But, just to be sure, I wanted to use a solid wood bottom and not use a dado. If I put the solid wood into a dado, it would run the same risk for blowing out the dado and I’d still have to deal with the wood movement. That’s how I decided to use solid wood and let the sides sit on top of the bottom.

To use a solid wood bottom, I need to allow for wood movement. That means I can use no glue to attach the bottom to the sides. That leaves screws which I have no problem with but it means I need to use a slot hole so the wood can move and the screw won’t restrict the movement. That can be a problem because the side that is attached to the wood in the direction of the expansion has to be wide enough to hide the slot in the bottom, maybe more than a half inch. That made me rethink how to attach the bottom because the thicker the sides, the more expensive the box, etc. What I came up with is to use a sliding dovetail to attach the sides to the bottom. I’ve been cutting the bottom into two pieces and cutting two dovetail trenches in the direction of the expansion to hold both sides.

As for the sides, I decided on dovetail construction because it’s stronger than a mitered corner and more decorative than a plain box joint.

I am attaching several pictures to illustrate.

Top, Bottom, Sides, Tails
Here you can see that I’ve milled the top and bottom and glued them up. I’ve also milled the sides to final length and width and cut the tails in the sides.

Dry Fit 1
This shot shows the dry fit after I cut the pins and put all the sides together. Can you see what will become the sliding dovetails on the wider two of the sides?

Dry Fit 2
This is another shot of the dry fit for the sides.

Dry Fit After Sliding Dovetails Cut
This is the dry fit after the sliding dovetails have been cut.

More next time. Thanks for reading.

-- Jim

3 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118163 posts in 4738 days

#1 posted 02-02-2010 07:35 AM

View StephenSC's profile


28 posts in 4277 days

#2 posted 02-02-2010 03:55 PM

Looks good. How thick is the stock? Looks like 1/2 inch but cannot tell. I am waiting to see the lid. A good gift for anyone and nice that you do it to celebrate something.

-- Stephen, Riverside. If it's worth building, it's worth making it real heavy.

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 5151 days

#3 posted 02-03-2010 01:20 AM

Thanks Stephen, the sides are about 1/2” and the top and bottom are only slightly less thick. You can see the top in the first picture above. It’s the piece on the top right with the hole and knots and rustic look. I don’t know why I like that look. All this wood came from a pallet I salvaged from a tile store here in Houston. I’ve found a lot of good wood from the tile store I think because the tile’s imported from south of the border.

-- Jim

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics