Boxguy's Fan Flub

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Project by Boxguy posted 12-06-2013 08:53 PM 4218 views 27 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Thanks, to all who take time to look at projects. I always enjoy reading and replying to questions and comments from others living in Lumberland. I will respond to all who “have your say” in the next 24 hours. So check back for feedback. Please note that there is a list of tutorials on specific techniques at the end of this posting.

Pictured is a large, six-sided (14×7 x 5) tea box made of Black Cherry with Yellow Wood corner splines and using Venetian blind slats for dividers. All the techniques used to build this box are detailed in the notes and tutorials at the end of this posting.

Note: Using the elongated splines on the 45 degree angles means you can just cut those front grooves with a fence and a table saw and don’t need to make a special jig for the 45 degree angle. I did use this jig to cut the backside slots for 90 degree box corners.

Story: OK, full disclosure is needed here. The fan design on the front of this box was a mistake. When I wasn’t paying attention, my guide slipped on the spindle sander table, and I had a finger indent that wasn’t in the center as it should have been. Panic!

I already had quite a bit of time into making this box. The miters and splines in this design are time consuming. Can this box be saved? Solution...make five grooves instead of three. So the flub was turned into a fan-shaped finger lift (hence the title). To be honest, on a large box like this it looks pretty good.

Focus: Details about how to make finger lifts have been explained in this tutorial. After making several different kinds of lifts for boxes, I hit on the indented finger lift. Carved lifts are simple to make, don’t involve hardware, and can’t break off if the box is mistreated.

Basically, these lifts are made with a Jet benchtop sander that has a modified table mounted on top. All these lifts are sanded out with the same 1” sleeve and have the same left to right spacing. (Changing the spindles on the Jet is a real pain.) The different designs are crafted by varying the angle of the sander’s table. This year I have been putting tri-part lifts on all my boxes. I just like the look.

Try to carve a lift that goes with that particular box. A steeper angle will give a longer lift that may look better with a taller box. A more shallow angle will carve a shorter lift that will look wider. Of course you can carve a single groove for a simpler lift like the box below.

A spindle sander is a significant investment, and it takes time to modify the table. You can get the same results with a drum mounted in a drill press and a piece of wood stuck under the box to create the angle. But, I make a lot of boxes and that means the expense and modification are worth my time and money. Besides, I had this spindle sander that I swapped for just sitting around gathering dust.

Keep boxing and keep posting.

Tutorials: For methods used to make boxes like those pictured above just click on the blue links below. They are arranged by topic.

Combining Wood Colors:
Jig for 45ing corners:
Routers and Rounding edges
Why round box corners?
Organizing a glue-up table:
$5 band clamps:
Adding splines to a box:
Making a jig to cut spline slots:
Measuring for spline slot cuts:
Making splines with a simple jig:
Installing an attached top: like that pictured above.
Cutting off the box top and sizing piano hinges
Adding finger indents:
Mortising and installing hinges:
Tips on making trays: for inside boxes:
Finishing tips:
Swapping Wood By Mail:

-- Big Al in IN

25 comments so far

View dustyal's profile


1320 posts in 4331 days

#1 posted 12-06-2013 08:59 PM

funny, the first thing I noticed was the fan shape finger lid lift… uh, wasn’t right, but then you explained right away. But good recovery. Would not have noticed but I am so into your method and style, that I knew something was a tough off…

Well done. I like the 45 corners.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View jumbojack's profile


1691 posts in 3480 days

#2 posted 12-06-2013 09:34 PM

I too was alarmed when I saw the five finger lift. GREAT recovery Al! It is often said the true measure of a craftsman is the ability to cover his mistakes and make them look as if it were planned. Did the rear miters get splines as well? Did the angle of the front complicate cutting the top off? I briefly tried to walk through it and saw some balance issues. It appears you did an exemplary job, as I expected. Nice work Al, sure to hit the Top 3.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 3369 days

#3 posted 12-06-2013 09:52 PM

Alan, I’m like a kid in a candy store going through all of your tutorials :) What I’d like to request that I’ve not yet seen in them is a tutorial of how you do your partitions using the venetian blinds.

Another new change up in your lid lift designs looks nice along with the box.

BTW I managed to find the wooden venetian blinds at HD the cheapest they had $47.00 so I grabbed them, I did ask if they had any miss-cuts and marked down first.


-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View maplerock's profile


529 posts in 2656 days

#4 posted 12-06-2013 10:33 PM

This box looks like an old friend :-). I have seen it patiently waiting for its 15 minutes of fame! It is a classy container indeed. Boxguy, you are a wealth of information and when it comes to sharing it, nobody does it better. Kudos on a job well done.

-- Jerry... making sawdust in the Knobs of Southern Indiana

View doubleDD's profile


9667 posts in 2899 days

#5 posted 12-06-2013 11:07 PM

Al, nice looking box as always. I like how you use the spindle sander for the finger dents. I have been using a router, the again I put mine in the lid. Good to learn other ways. The dividers are different to see and maybe I can use them on my next box. By the way, beautiful miters.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View bondogaposis's profile


5845 posts in 3207 days

#6 posted 12-06-2013 11:21 PM

Love the box. Thanks for making the tutorials and giving me advice on my box.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Boxguy's profile


2880 posts in 3124 days

#7 posted 12-06-2013 11:53 PM


Dusty Al, thanks for the support. The tough part about the 5 sided box is keeping track of which boards get cut at what angles when you are laying out the cuts. Some are cut at 22 1/2 degrees and some at 45 degrees.

Jumbo, perceptive observations and great questions as always. The rear corners got splines that were cut on a jig like I would use on any oblong box. The problem is with two methods of cutting slots it is not easy to keep them all aligned around the box. I started with the back slots and then cut the front.

As to the balance while cutting off the top, I used my usual method. The sequence is a bit different. Cut through the back, then through the front, then one of the 45s and then the other. Then lower the tablesaw blade so it just misses cutting through the box sides, and cut the two ends. Now, take a utility knife or Japanese saw and cut through what attachment is left of the two ends of the box. Be sure to mark the back side of both the top and bottom before you separate the top and bottom.

Blackie, I think you are right. I have not done a tutorial on making the dividers. I will include that on the next teabox I post. Basically, you use the tablesaw and a miter guage to cut halfway + through the slat and then interlock them like egg crates.

Here is the sequence. Cut the long dividers that go left to right to length. Cut the short dividers that go front to back to length. Put wooden teabag sized spacers into the box with front to back dividers between the teabag spacers. Lay your long spacers on top of the cross spacers and mark where you want each divider to be cut. Mark one of the short dividers where you want the long dividers to cross. Tape together the long dividers. Tape together all the short dividers. Cut the long dividers half-way through starting from the top. Cut the short dividers half-way through starting from the bottom. Dry fit sliding the top and bottom slots together. Remove short dividers one at a time and adding a small bit of glue to each slot. Yeah, it needs pictures.

Jerry, thanks for the kind words. It is a good thing you and Linda came over yesterday since we got all this snow today. At least it is a good time to hibernate in the shop.

DD, thanks for the compliment. I have made some with a router using the top half of an ogee bit and two stops to limit the cut. What do you use?

Bondo, you are welcome. Your recently posted box displays a great deal of craftsmanship. Looks like you have box making down to a science.

Grizz, (below) now that you mention it…that first lift does look like a cow’s head. I do like how the wood grain drifts across the five indent lift. That was an extra surprise.

-- Big Al in IN

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4159 days

#8 posted 12-06-2013 11:53 PM

its a very beautiful box and you did well to fix the mistake, i like the indented lift also, i dont care for the first one you have pictures , it looks like a cows head, i like the clam look far better, and the new five indent lift is a good idea now, i love how mistakes sometimes turn into beauty..

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View doubleDD's profile


9667 posts in 2899 days

#9 posted 12-07-2013 02:15 AM

Al, I use a box core bit and clamp blocks on each side as you mentioned. Different size for different effects. I have only done this more recently. Usually the top overhang was sufficient. Just trying to get fancy and try to keep up with you box builders. LOL.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View nomercadies's profile


590 posts in 3195 days

#10 posted 12-07-2013 02:59 AM

Trite but true …
you da man

-- Chance Four "Not Just a Second Chance"

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30566 posts in 3194 days

#11 posted 12-07-2013 04:22 AM

A little variance from your normal. I like the look.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3583 posts in 4568 days

#12 posted 12-07-2013 04:53 AM


Another outstanding box. I like this variation with the angles and your “fix” worked out well.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 3293 days

#13 posted 12-07-2013 04:56 AM

Beautiful! I really like the five sides and the lift indent. The whole box has a very “Art Deco” look to it.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View comboprof's profile


277 posts in 2590 days

#14 posted 12-07-2013 05:16 AM

Thanks for all the tutorials. My FTG saw blade arrived today and I am ready to start making splined corners.
Can you give some tips on making the divided insert for the tea box?

-- -- Cheers, Don K. (Michgan's Kewenaw peninsula)

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4165 days

#15 posted 12-07-2013 05:42 AM

What an awesome looking box Al…The clam-shell lift combined with the six sides ( I had to go back and count… guess I visualize the back as the 6th side) really creates an interesting and unique design. Mistakes that evolved into new design ideas and solutions…..sure beats ruining a fine box.. and sure stimulates creativity.

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