Screw-Advance Box Joint Jig

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Project by Peter Oxley posted 12-10-2010 09:49 PM 15665 views 40 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This jig is based on the box joint jig designed by Matthias Wandel at . If you haven’t seen his site, you should check it out – a ton of great ideas for shop machinery you can build yourself.

I made a few modifications to the original design to fit my work style:
  • I moved the crank mechanism to the right and oriented the primary gear vertically, which I thought would make it more comfortable for me to use.
  • I use fractional inches in most of my work, so I designed the system with that in mind. The screw pitch is 16 TPI, so one turn advances the jig 1/16”. The primary gear is four times the size of the drive gear, so a full turn on the crank gives me 1/4” advance. I designed the primary gear assembly so it could be changed to different size gears, but so far I’ve only used the one size.
  • I didn’t trust myself to always turn the crank exactly a full turn (and I’m the sort of guy who can lose count between one and three), so I added a scale to the fixed fence and an indicator on the carriage. For additional accuracy, I added an indicator by the drive gear and colored the indicator and “zero” tooth red. This also gives me the flexibility to make joints in increments that are a multiples of 1/8” and even multiples of 1/16” without building additional primary gears, but would require making partial turns on the primary gear. However, the smallest joints I have made are 1/8”, which requires 1/4” advance – one full turn of the crank.
  • The carriage rides on two sliding dovetails. I’m a little fixated on sliding dovetails, and even make full-extension drawer slides out of them sometimes. The carriage is tight enough between the dovetails that there is no noticable movement.
  • In an effort to save a couple of dollars, I used a seamless sleeve instead of a bearing for the screw. That was a mistake, as the side load on the gear creates quite a bit of friction. I’ll replace it with a bearing soon.

The last two pictures are the largest and smallest boxes I’ve made with the jig so far. The big box is a book-return drawer for our local library with ½” x ¾” box joints. Yes, I cleaned up the glue before installing it! The little box is for my dial calipers and has 1/8” x ¼” joints.

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23 comments so far

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 4271 days

#1 posted 12-10-2010 09:57 PM

Nice work. I have considered building this myself. Did you find the plans easy to follow?Did you cut 4 ends at a time when making the fingers?
I will second peter in saying that is an awesome site and he posts a new article every monday.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 4325 days

#2 posted 12-10-2010 10:15 PM

Well that is just Fricken incredible. I have to say it is great to be able to build your own tools, I wish I had the talent, one of these days, months, years, etc…. Thanks for posting it.

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4932 days

#3 posted 12-10-2010 10:18 PM

very nicely done. this will save you a lot of headache in the long run if you do a lot of boxjoints.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Cozmo35's profile


2200 posts in 4320 days

#4 posted 12-10-2010 10:46 PM

I too bought those plans a while back. They are AWESOME! But, like many others, I have yet to build it.

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

View dannymac's profile


144 posts in 4299 days

#5 posted 12-10-2010 10:49 PM

totally cool just added to my favs

-- dannymac

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27002 posts in 4389 days

#6 posted 12-10-2010 11:07 PM

Far out, man!!!!!!!!! That is one nice machine!!
Thanks for showing it to us all!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View AttainableApex's profile


347 posts in 4116 days

#7 posted 12-11-2010 12:25 AM

man i want one of these

-- Ben L

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1427 posts in 5158 days

#8 posted 12-11-2010 02:13 AM

Thanks for the comments! I actually didn’t buy the plans (sorry Matthias), but just read the blog and designed from there. However, given the clarity and depth of information on the website, I bet the plans will be great.

@BeeMan – yep, I cut all four boards at once, so you only have two setups to cut all the joints for a box. It’s pretty slick.

If you’ve been thinking about building it – get to it, you’ll love it! I almost never use my dovetail jig anymore.

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View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 5058 days

#9 posted 12-11-2010 01:10 PM

Very impressive design. You did a great job on it. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 4748 days

#10 posted 12-12-2010 05:06 AM

Thanks this and the website are going straight to favorites.
I like box joints and this may just get me use more of them.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View StumpyNubs's profile


7853 posts in 4084 days

#11 posted 12-13-2010 01:25 AM

I’ve bought the plans for the bandsaw, box joint jig and horizontal mortiser. I’ve built all three 90% and may even finish them some day!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5246 days

#12 posted 12-13-2010 03:35 AM

Ho, Peter!!! I see you’re still at it in a grand way. Great jig and probably as useful as all get out. I’m thinkin’ of ya while enjoying the warm here in south California. Only got to 83 today. DANG!!!

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1427 posts in 5158 days

#13 posted 12-13-2010 04:55 PM

I’m getting ready to build a batch of 20 drawers, so this thing is going to get a workout again really soon. It’s really not too hard to build, and the increased productivity is definately worth the effort.

@Thos – great to hear from you! Maybe I’m crazy, but I like my Idaho weather. There is just something wrong about 83 degrees in December. Of course, I might feel differently after a few winters in Jordan Valley!

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View AttainableApex's profile


347 posts in 4116 days

#14 posted 12-14-2010 02:31 AM

hey how much did you end up spending on this jig

-- Ben L

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1427 posts in 5158 days

#15 posted 12-15-2010 04:47 PM

@Attainable – That’s a good question. I didn’t really calculate the cost. All of the lumber was on-hand. If you had to buy a full-sheet of good ply to make the base, that would really drive up the cost compared to the cost of the few sqft I actually took from stock. I would estimate materials at about $30-40 on this. If you purchase the plans from that would put your cost closer to $50.

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