Dovetailed Storage Box

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Project by Fotodog posted 04-13-2022 02:45 AM 610 views 2 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife requested a storage box, and decided on a final size or roughly 9” square by 10” high. I thought this would be a good opportunity to refine my skills with (mostly) hand cut dovetails, as well as try some new wood combinations for the lid.

The box sides are curly maple about 1/2” thick. For the dovetails, after lots of trial and error, I now use a hybrid approach combining several methods. I mark and saw the tails with a magnetic dovetail guide from David Barron. Before chiseling out the waste, I mark the saw kerfs on the pin board using Rob Cosman’s method of offsetting the tail board by the width of the saw kerf (.024”) into the waste area. I milled a small block of wood with the offset which makes the setup easier. The waste on the tail board is then removed with a chisel.

The saw cuts were then made on the pin board using the dovetail guide, placing the saw in the kerfs already made in the previous step. The maple I used on this project had a nasty tendency to chip out along the base lines, even when the lines were carefully scored with a marking gauge and knife. I ended up using a technique that I saw on a video from Mike Farrington, partially removing the waste traditionally and finishing by placing the pin boards vertically in my Moxon vise and routing down to the base lines with a 1/4” pattern bit. The results were much cleaner than I got with a chisel. Perhaps I need to continue working on my chiseling technique.

I designed the box in Sketchup, which allowed me to play with different wood combinations for the lid. The final design used an inner field of Sapele, a thin strip of Wenge, a slightly wider strip of Maple, edged with Walnut. The handle on top is made from Wenge, as are the 4 square feet which are not visible in the photo. I used 3 layers of Osmo Polyx for the finish, which produces a soft, satin sheen.

It was a fun build, although time consuming for such a simple project. Thanks for looking!

-- Tim

10 comments so far

View BB1's profile


3305 posts in 2340 days

#1 posted 04-13-2022 02:48 AM

Beautifully done. The joinery and other details are top notch. Wow!

View Madmark2's profile


3485 posts in 2080 days

#2 posted 04-13-2022 03:32 AM

Oh! Very pretty!

From the description I thought you kept a bunch of dovetails stored in a box. (imagine lots of trimmed ends jumbled in a coffee can! LOL)

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Fotodog's profile


139 posts in 1271 days

#3 posted 04-13-2022 03:50 AM

Thanks guys. That’s funny Mark, maybe I should save all my test dovetails in a box to remind me that I have a long way to go to approach the level of Rob Cosman or Derek Cohen. I edited the title to say “Dovetailed”.

-- Tim

View Eric's profile


5740 posts in 1365 days

#4 posted 04-13-2022 10:41 AM

Nicely done, the dovetails look tight. Cutting by hand takes some practice, and a good sharp chisel. The top adds to the box, the only thing I would change there is using meters over but joints. I take it there is a lip on the inside of the lid to keep it in place.

Overall well done.

-- Eric, building the dream. the "Loft"

View swirt's profile


7779 posts in 4464 days

#5 posted 04-14-2022 02:18 AM

Super fine joinery, and the whole thing is very attractive.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Fotodog's profile


139 posts in 1271 days

#6 posted 04-14-2022 02:47 AM

Thanks gentlemen. I considered miters on the lid pieces, but decided that square joints matched the look of the dovetails better. To fit the lid, I milled a half inch piece of maple for a friction fit into the box, and glued it to the bottom of the lid.

-- Tim

View BushN's profile


17 posts in 1129 days

#7 posted 04-16-2022 01:37 PM

Beautiful design and technique. Your wife will have a hard time determining which things deserve to be stored there.

View MatthewG's profile


95 posts in 4271 days

#8 posted 04-19-2022 08:52 PM

Wow. Just wow! That is one sweet box—beautifully scaled, really balanced design, and what a great choice of woods. Beautiful!

-- Matthew, from beautiful Wisconsin USA

View awsum55's profile


1315 posts in 2001 days

#9 posted 04-20-2022 05:21 PM

Beautifully done!

-- "The Answer Is Blowin'n In The Wind" John D, OP, KS

View Fotodog's profile


139 posts in 1271 days

#10 posted 04-21-2022 01:27 AM

Thanks guys, I appreciate your kind words!

-- Tim

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