Wooden Briefcase

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Forum topic by drknoxy posted 11-13-2008 06:52 PM 1594 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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31 posts in 3967 days

11-13-2008 06:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wooden briefcase briefcase dovetail joining

I am a mechanical engineer, but am relatively new to woodworking. It is kinda of strange to know so much about design, and so little about joinery. That said I’ve designed a wooden briefcase as a christmas present, but am unfamiliar with some of the details.

I have been looking around at the different projects and haven’t seen dovetails used all around the circumfrence of an object. It seems plausible, but maybe you know something I don’t? The briefcase is to be made like two open boxes (thus giving me a top and a bottom that I can hinge together). Since the top and bottom are going to have the same joinings I will use terminology just for the top, to avoid confusion.

I plan on making all of the edges that connect the sides to the top dovetail joints, and then have rabbet joint cuts on the front and back so that the sides fit in nicely. I have taken the corners of the top into consideration so that the dovetails placement doesn’t overlap.

Should/Can I glue the dovetail joints?
Should I glue the rabbet joints, or nail it, or use through dowels? (I decided on this joint because all of the pins will be on the sides, and thus slide up and into the top)

Thanks for your help,

-- Knoxy for short

3 replies so far

View Boardman's profile


157 posts in 4246 days

#1 posted 11-13-2008 10:49 PM

Gluing the dovetails is something you should do – they’ll never fit tight enough by themselves to provide the only connection.

On the second part I’m thinking you mean the end grain/long grain connection. End grain gluing is inherently weak, although I’ve got a walnut box that’s lasted about 5 years with an end grain/long grain glue up. I think small dowels would be necessary because the piece is going to be stressed a lot with carrying around, opening and closing.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4609 days

#2 posted 11-14-2008 12:45 AM

How about making the rabbet joints a groove instead, and have your front and back able to move as they change size? Barring that, I’d definitely do them as plywood (with a pretty veneer) and glue the heck out of ‘em.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View drknoxy's profile


31 posts in 3967 days

#3 posted 11-19-2008 05:22 PM

I think I’m going to go with a double rabbet (not sure if that is what it is actually called), but basically two rabbeted ends fitting together. It seemed like this would create more surface area for gluing.

-- Knoxy for short

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