Mortise and tenon with panels box

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Project by Ken Reed posted 08-06-2012 06:12 PM 1135 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Mortise and tenon with panels box
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I thought that I could build a simple box with only a few setups. All the solid stock is the same size other than lengths, the dadoes are all pretty much just one setup. Alas, it was a bit more complicated than I had hoped. Makes a nice wastepaper basket however.

3 comments so far

View Boxguy's profile


2876 posts in 3035 days

#1 posted 08-07-2012 08:41 PM

Ken, I have been thinking about this design. I like what you have done. I think it could be simple. If you made all your dadoes the full length of your corner pieces, you could just fill in the groove with a glued-in solid strip in the space below the handles and plane/sand it smooth. On the handles themselves, and the bottom boards, if you replaced the formed tendon with at groove then filled in the space between the two grooves with a piece of wood as a floating tendon, it would simplify the build a great deal and you would only need one set-up. With modern glues a floating tendon should be as strong as a formed tendon on parallel grained joint. I would probably celebrate the look with a contrasting wood instead of trying to blend it in. I used a similar idea in this build. Link. So you can get a visual on the mortise concept.

It is a different look, but if you eliminated the “handle” and just had the end panels of plywood extend above the sides and cut hand holds the build would be simplified and stronger. If you glued the plywood in the dado I can’t imagine it would ever pull out.

Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View Ken Reed's profile

Ken Reed

158 posts in 3952 days

#2 posted 08-07-2012 09:11 PM

Box Guy,

Thanks for the suggestions; it’s always great to see how others are approaching the problem.

I’m doing pretty much as you first suggest with the dadoes, only I find it pretty easy to set a stop on my router fence and that saves me the hassle of infilling later. The basic setup doesn’t change, just the addition of stops.

I do use loose tenons: Festool Dominoes. Quick and easy with minimal setup. I agree with your comment about their strength as I’ve never had one fail.

I came up with several designs, including contrasting woods, pictures or wallpapered panels, ends that tilt out, etc, but this is the wood that I had in the scrap bin that worked and since it’s just a prototype it’s what I used. I can send you Sketchup files if you’re interested.

I’ve made a bunch of solid pine boxes with dovetailed corners and I use the cut out handle design on those, but, again, I was hoping for quick and simple. As it turned out it was neither that quick or simple. Back to the drawing board, or in my case, Sketchup.

View Boxguy's profile


2876 posts in 3035 days

#3 posted 08-08-2012 05:39 AM


Thanks for the reply. You are right about stops since you are using a router. I use a dado blade on most of my work.

-- Big Al in IN

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