Need Advice on How to Cut this Finger Joint

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Forum topic by TTH posted 06-11-2020 08:44 PM 723 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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32 posts in 766 days

06-11-2020 08:44 PM

Newbie woodworker here with newbie problems. I’m making a charging station for my wireless devices, and my design contemplated a lower tier and upper tier using box joints to show the contrast between the maple fronts and walnut sides.

I didn’t fully think this through, particularly how to cut the box joints on the upper tier of the sides (see image below). Obviously I can’t run it over my dado stack the way I did with the joints on the bottom tier. I cut templates to match the fingers I’ve cut into the maple front piece, but I haven’t come up with a way to transfer those cuts to the sides. I suppose if I had a proper router I could use a 1/4” straight line bit, but I don’t have a router yet.

I know I’m probably not getting the cleanest looking joints in the end, but what is my best bad option here? Preferably one that doesn’t entail running out buying a new tool? Here’s what I’ve got:

A tablesaw
A dremel with the crappy router attachment
Some chisels
A coping saw
Assorted clamps

I don’t have any of the following:
a router
any proper handsaws
a bench vise
a bench, for that matter
much skill

Thank you in advance for being charitable toward a fool!


-- Travis, DFW

7 replies so far

View therealSteveN's profile


10003 posts in 2036 days

#1 posted 06-11-2020 09:05 PM

Take table saw, and add gumption to make a finger joint jig to cut them on the TS. If you have a dado blade it’s a HUGE plus, but you can do the, set a border, and chisel cut out the middle, but there it helps to have a saw blade with Flat ground carbide teeth. Otherwise you tend to get the chewed by a bad set of teeth look, where due to a an ATB, or anything other than a FTG tooth cut you get smiles, and frowns, and all kinds of gaps when you look at the ends.

Tons on the innerweb about making the perfect box joint jig, finger joint jig.

This will turn out being something easily doable, BUT it really helps to have the correct saw blade for it, and a jig you are comfortable with.

I personally gave up on wooden jigs that worked for a few times, then started getting sloppy, and bought an I box.

It’s been a very good purchase for me. But I make a lot of box joints.

One thought about box joints you will want to know starting out. Depending on the blade width, you can get off centered if you just decide I want the walls to be X high. If the width of the blade you are using isn’t divisible by the height of the walls, you will get an uneven look. IE: joints on the start, or finish won’t be the same thickness. With a Dado blade you can work this out, but it does make for knowing where you are going, before you start cutting.

You might think about putting in your general location. It could be someone near to you would be willing to help you during the learning process. Lotta folks here.

-- Think safe, be safe

View LittleShaver's profile


782 posts in 2081 days

#2 posted 06-11-2020 09:13 PM

Cut the sides , cut the joints, glue the sides back together. Essentially, turn this into two stacked boxes. You could use a thin strip of your maple in the cut line to make it a design feature.
No mistakes, just opportunities to be creative.

-- Sawdust Maker

View TTH's profile


32 posts in 766 days

#3 posted 06-11-2020 09:14 PM

So I’ve made a box jointing jig, which is how I cut the joints for the very front face. Is there a jig out there that would let me run the board into the blade on its face (as opposed to its end)?

That is kind of what I thought about doing. Cutting the joints on that upper tier almost like a stopped dado, then squaring out the ends with a chisel.

-- Travis, DFW

View bilyo's profile (online now)


1551 posts in 2564 days

#4 posted 06-18-2020 10:44 PM

I like what LittleShaver said: rip the top step away from the bottom, cut the fingers the same way you did for the lower step, then glue it back together. This would be the easiest and quickest and, if done carefully, you will never see it when done.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


5622 posts in 2956 days

#5 posted 06-19-2020 05:56 AM

+1 cut it apart and use TS jig, glue back together.

Could use the hand tool route?
Hand saw the finger locations, chisel out waste, be sure cut 1/2 from each side to keep outside line straight.
Use the first board fingers to mark the locations on the other to compensate for any deviation.
All it takes is little gumption and sharp saw/chisel? :)

I like to use my Tajima pull saw with 265mm 16TPI blade for something like this. Cost is $25 on Amazon, and replacement blades are $12. Can also get the classic Japanese straight handled version if you prefer to 2 handed style. They sell a ton of combo kits with extra blades, and both style handles if you shop around.

Can also use any type of hard back or gent’s ‘push cut’ saw for these cuts. But a decent saw will cost a lot more. Do not suggest a BORG hard back saw for this. Xacto sells a hobby ‘razor’ saw that would work for small fingers too. Have used both pull and push saws; and find the pull saw gives me more control. Forces me to let the blade do the work as you can’t push down as hard on pull stroke. But then not everyone is Klutz and needs a reminder that slow and easy is more accurate. ;)

Best Luck!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View ChefHDAN's profile


1884 posts in 4311 days

#6 posted 06-19-2020 01:37 PM


After you do some by hand they are not so intimidating. Decent pull saw and 2 chisels, all done!

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Steve's profile


2755 posts in 2044 days

#7 posted 06-19-2020 03:52 PM

Know anyone with a bandsaw?

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