Storage Box for Jessem 8350 Dowelling Kit

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Project by manuka posted 11-12-2014 07:44 PM 6636 views 8 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

EDIT: Added handles and lid. The handles are from Lee Valley. The lid is held in place by four 1/4” magnets also from Lee Valley (felt like playing with those). It’s a surprisingly satisfying closure. The lid is from a pine scrap from a bed I found on the street. The recess in the lid is to accommodate the taller kits (1/2 and 3/8) as the box is the right height for the shortest one (1/4).

Original Post:
After a bad experience with a self-centering dowelling kit whose thread seized, I invested in the 08350 JessEm Dowelling Jig Master Kit and have been wowed with the precision. What was less impressive was the storage that came with it: none at all. After shelling all that cash for that beautiful kit, I wanted a box to put all the pieces away in a tidy fashion.

The box is certainly not a beauty in craftsmanship but as a beginner it was a step up on my skill curve.

Figuring out how to fit all the pieces into a box was fun. I am quite poor at visualizing in three dimensions and had a lot of help from my girlfriend who could be a 3D tetris master. It took a number of tries to find a pleasant configuration and that process was stimulating.

The body of the box came out of an old plank a friend gave me some time ago—I think he said it was some mahogany taken from a yacht. After scraping the varnish the timber came up gorgeous. The bottom is from a scrap of pine. The insert is from a scrap of malas timber, which to me split a bit too easily. The finish is plain tung oil.

Making the trenches on the table saw was a learning experience: the last ones were better than the first. My narrowest chisel is 1/2” wide so I may try to clean up the trenches if I find a cheap 1/4” chisel.

At some stage there was a lot of cutting and gluing of very small pieces for the insert and I found these small cuts very challenging. Sometimes I resorted to chiseling to get a tiny piece out of an already small piece.

Naturally I thought I’d assemble the box with dowels but the Jessem kit only has instructions for (1) how to join boards flush and (2) joining perpendicular at an arbitrary location. Both methods work perfectly but I needed to dowel boards at 90 degrees flush at the edge (butt joint); there were no instructions for that and what I tried was not precise enough. Since then I tried a different procedure that seems to work (posted on one my second reply below).

So on the box what looks like dowelling holes are, for some, deeply countersunk screws covered with putty, and for others dowels inserted after the box was screwed together.

Potential additions:
- Might add a lid at some stage but not sure yet how to attach it. Wondering if some rare earth magnets would be a good application there.
- Also might add handles at some stage, not sure which way to go.

Update: I see that Todd made a beautiful box for the same kit.

Thanks for looking!

8 comments so far

View Grumpymike's profile


2500 posts in 3647 days

#1 posted 11-12-2014 08:06 PM

Nice way to organize and protect your tools. What better way to practice with your new tool.
Yes it needs a lid of some sort … Great job.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View handsawgeek's profile


668 posts in 2728 days

#2 posted 11-12-2014 09:34 PM

Nice beginner project, and you did a fine job with it. I agree with Grumpymike, a lid would finish things off nicely.

For doweling butt joints like this, you might consider merely gluing up the box normally, then drilling the dowel holes through both pieces of the joint and pounding them in after all is assembled. In this way you wouldn’t have to rely on a doweling jig to align the sides pre-assembly. Where the jig would be useful is if you wished to have stopped dowels, that is they would only extend partly into the outer board and not show from the outside.

-- Ed

View Sierras's profile


37 posts in 4103 days

#3 posted 11-13-2014 02:55 AM

Nice! I’ve been frustrated with the box the JessEm comes in, not well designed for keeping the tool in. Nice solution!

View manuka's profile


30 posts in 2653 days

#4 posted 11-13-2014 07:37 PM

Thanks for your kind encouragements, guys.

View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 2926 days

#5 posted 11-13-2014 10:54 PM

I just bought this same jig. I love it. How did you attempt to join two piece at right angles? That is the first joint I tried and it worked perfectly. Well, it worked perfectly the first time I tried it, with the largest dowel size. On the smallest dowel size, my dowels are too small and it flops all around.

View manuka's profile


30 posts in 2653 days

#6 posted 11-13-2014 11:58 PM

Hi @LJackson

> How did you attempt to join two piece at right angles?

I followed the manual (the two-inch line story). When the vertical piece is attached at an arbitrary place in the middle of the horizontal piece, it works perfectly. The alignment problem was when the vertical piece must be attached flush with the end of the horizontal piece (butt joint). When I tried, the two pieces fit perfectly into each other but the butt joint was not perfectly flush. There’s no procedure in the manual for that, but I’ll now go try another procedure, trying to perfectly align the jig with one end of the timber.

Okay, just tried that and it worked. On 18mm ply pieces (about 3/4”), I set the jig to 3/8”. On the horizontal piece, I aligned the jig to the back, left edges flush. On the vertical piece, I aligned the jig to the back, right edges aligned. So this procedure didn’t use the jig’s saw to measure the position of the mating dowels.

Maybe you came up with a smarter procedure that uses the jaws?
Also handsawgeek’s idea of gluing then dowelling makes sense (that’s the procedure I used originally, but he does it with glue whereas I used screws).

View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 2926 days

#7 posted 11-15-2014 09:55 PM

I think it is hard to describe, so I have included a simple diagram. When joining two pieces of wood, there can be two edges which you want to get flush. I have numbered those edges 1 and 2 in the diagram. If you want to get edge 1 flush, make sure that faces A and B of the pieces are against the “fence” of the jig. The depth you set the jig is likely going to be such that the holes are centered in the thickness of the top piece, and you do not adjust that when drilling the two pieces.

If you want to get edge 2 flush there are two ways. If you mark a line down both pieces while butted together, you can use the center mark on the jig, and align it with that. But, that doesn’t work if the thickness of the bottom piece is less than the fence. What I do is align the edge of the jig with the faces C and D. If I’ve got the 3D image in my mind correct, in this case you would align the right edge of the jig with face C, and the left edge of the jig with face D. This works because the holes are the same distance frome either edge (as the measurement etched into the jig states).

View manuka's profile


30 posts in 2653 days

#8 posted 11-27-2014 09:53 PM

Update: Added handles and lid (thanks everyone for nudging me in that direction.) Updated photos and added edit at the top of the post.

@LJackson Thank you for your diagram and explanations. If I understand them, it sounds like we came up with the same ideas. Your diagram also makes it very clear that you can easily make a visible dowel if you manage to securely clamp the fence against A and B together. My original problem was for a hidden dowel, for which you need to flip the jig upside down, relative to the picture, when lining up to face A or B. That’s what you explained with the left edge of fence / right edge of fence alignment to edge 2.

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