Sliding Dovetail Boxes

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Project by moonls posted 05-09-2011 09:13 PM 4638 views 10 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After finding an article in march 2008 Wood Magazine describing Perry McDaniel’s sliding dovetail boxes, I decided to give it a try. The suggestion was to use woods like walnut and mahogany so that’s what I chose. Because my router table doesn’t have an Incra LS positioner, I had to devise a way to get the accuracy to be able to cut the dovetails and grooves to allow the boxes to open smoothly. To make a long story shorter, I had a lot of trial & error but was able to get some success with locking the fence at the furthest distance required from the router bit and then adding different thicknesses of flat boards that were clamped to the fence. The article suggested finishing with 2 light spray coats of shellac. My shellac spraying needs improvement because I had to sand the boxes down again because the dovetails wouldn’t slide. Again I need to thank Ellen 35 for using briwax to make the sliding very smooth again. The directions suggested that wax was not good to use, but I learned that “rules are made to be broken”! The box latch consists of 2 rare earth magnets (recessed into the top and bottom) that “click” together when the boxes are closed. To help orient the box for opening I inserted a hardwood plug in the top to show the point where the latch is located. The box seem to open on the diagonal because, after creating the sliding dovetail, you cut off the 4 corners of the square. These boxes are meant for small items like rings.
Comments are welcome. Thanks.

-- Lorna, Cape Cod

7 comments so far

View ellen35's profile


2742 posts in 3942 days

#1 posted 05-09-2011 09:37 PM

Among the most unique boxes I have ever seen.
Lorna, you are becoming a true “boxaholic” in the words of Littlecope!
These are just cute… no other way to describe them.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Lenny's profile


1639 posts in 4037 days

#2 posted 05-09-2011 10:55 PM

Lorna, it seems that you really challenged yourself with these boxes. The end result is some nice little boxes with clever joinery and “hardware” (magnetic latches). Nicely done!

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View degoose's profile


7258 posts in 3864 days

#3 posted 05-09-2011 11:12 PM

I too like the magnets…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View patron's profile


13654 posts in 3851 days

#4 posted 05-10-2011 12:21 AM

chalenges are always good

and you are
bounding along

great little boxes
well done

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View dedalo's profile


173 posts in 3407 days

#5 posted 05-10-2011 12:25 AM

great idea and building! I have been looking to use earth magnets on some projects, this is a great way of doing it!


View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 4587 days

#6 posted 05-10-2011 01:57 AM

Now that’s neat.

Where is the hole located in the box with the dovetail running through the center?

-- BLOG -

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23374 posts in 3615 days

#7 posted 05-10-2011 04:06 AM

Nice job on the boxes. Using magnets for catches was a great idea. I like to use them on bandsaw boxes. Then I can put in a secret handle on the bottom!
Thanks for sharing.

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

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