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Forum topic by 7Footer posted 03-20-2013 06:21 PM 1216 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View 7Footer's profile


2575 posts in 3287 days

03-20-2013 06:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: box advice finger joint box joint mahogany cherry hinge

Hi all, I am looking for a little advice from you box guru’s!

A couple weeks ago I made a box joint jig for my TS, and I was all excited about it after the joints turned out pretty nice on my first try. So I went to a local Hardwood company and came across some really nice cherry for $3 a BF, it has some beautiful grain patterns in it and I thought it would be perfect for the top, it is also 3/4” like the walls of the box. The walls of the box are mahogany. I realize also that 3/4” stock is way too much for a box this size, its just overkill but oh well.

I made the top for it, its a square piece of cherry with a smaller strips mitred around the square, and it hangs over the edge of the box about 1/4” all the way around.

SO, my question is – (1) what do I do for the base? I thought I had a great idea and when I tried it, it turned out like crap, so I scrapped it. My idea was to take 4 little square blocks of cherry and cut out some dados for the box to sit on like feet, then I would slide a really thin piece of mahogany in for the bottom of it, but after realizing that I couldn’t cut the dados like I wanted I tried to rout out the piece I wanted and it didnt work at all, maybe if I had a router jig I could’ve done it, but the blocks we too small to free hand it..

(2) How should I secure the top to the box? Again I thought I had it figured out, but now I’m not sure (I cut a small 1/4” strip of of the box walls and was going to rout out the cherry top out to fit that but now I realize that is more work than I want and I am not sure that my freehand routing skills are ready for that. Should I go with some stainless or brass hinges, or should I make my own wooden hinges? I want to keep it on the cheap as this is the first finger joint box I’ve made, its practice but I would love some advice on what you experienced box makers would do.

(3) What should I finish it with? I was thinking danish oil? I have never used Danish Oil but have really been wanting to use it. I also thought it may look nice if I stained it and put poly on it. I just love this grain pattern in the cherry top, so I don’t want too mess with it too much.

This is what my box looked like after the initial glue-up, just imagine it with a cherry top and no bottom at the moment. The box is 8” square and the top is about 8 1/2” square.

Thanks in advance!


5 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5557 days

#1 posted 03-20-2013 07:21 PM

There really are no right or wrong answers to your questions. It’s all about personal preference, and your comfort level with any particular skill.

Look at boxes on this site…. there are a ton of them. See what styles of lids and bottoms you would like to duplicate. If you are not sure exactly how something was done, ask the maker a specific question.

As for finish, Danish Oil is a good, easy finish… hard to go wrong there. Stain can be tricky, but if you are going for a dark color, go ahead and give it a try. You’ll want to make sure all your glue residue is gone, because glue keeps the wood from absorbing the stain. And keep in mind that cherry will darken considerably over time.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View 7Footer's profile


2575 posts in 3287 days

#2 posted 03-20-2013 08:00 PM

Yeah I hear you, I think I got a little too excited about my jig when I made it, I think that i probably should’ve thought more about the top and bottom before gluing the walls together.
I spend way too much time on this sit looking at everyone’s projects! But I looked at your projects and wow, you make some incredible boxes sir! Question – when the time comes to cut the lid free, do you glue the lid and the bottom on at the same time as you glue the sides together? And do you have a different process for the lid when you make a box that has a top/bottom that hangs over the edge?


View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5557 days

#3 posted 03-20-2013 08:22 PM

I always glue the four sides up first, then come back and glue the top and bottom on. The only exception would be if the top and/or bottom is going to “float” in a dado. In that case, of course, the whole thing sort of comes together at once.

As for cutting the lid free, that is usually the last thing I do after all six sides of the box are assembled. Again, the exception would be if you were planning to have an overhanging top and/or bottom.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Bobsboxes's profile


1673 posts in 4003 days

#4 posted 03-20-2013 08:31 PM

When you do your glue up of your sides, put some blue painters tape on the inside edge of joint, it will make clean up a lot easier. Also sand inside of box boards, way easier before than after assembly. Good luck.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View brtech's profile


1183 posts in 4261 days

#5 posted 03-20-2013 08:38 PM

The usual way to make a bottom is to cut a dado on the inside to hold a bottom in (not glued). Too late for that :)

It’s small enough that wood movement isn’t likely to be an issue, so you may be able to get away with just cutting a square piece of wood to fit the inside and glue in place. If you want feet, take a longer stick of wood and route a nice edge on it, and cut short pieces off using a miter box and a handsaw (a small Japanese pull saw works well). Make one edge 45 and the other 90, glue two 45s together to make feet.

For the top, it’s hard to cut the mortise for a hinge after it’s assembled. I would take a relatively thick piece of wood the size of the top and use a dado blade set to just over the wall thickness to thin out all four edges so the remaining (thicker) middle drops in the box. This makes a very nice removable top and it’s easy to do.

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