When making or designing a box you need to consider the joinery you will use. When doing this you should take into consideration not only the strength of your chosen method, but also how it will look on the finished product. You can also use more than one type of joinery in the same project.
While there are any number working joints, the following are commonly used in box making:
Dovetails, especially hand-cut dovetails are the hallmark of fine woodworking. Dovetails make great joints for boxes of all kinds as they are strong and good looking.
Dovetails can be made in several ways:
machine cut dovetails
both have advantages and disadvantages. Cutting dovetails by hand allows more choice and creativity, however, they also take time and practice (as well as patience). Machined dovetails are fast and good for production work, especially if you have a nice dovetail jig (I love my Leigh jig. Can't help throwing in a pitch for it here).
Whatever method you choose you can make one of three types of dovetail for joining box corners. The final style, sliding dovetails are used to join a board perpendicular to another - shelves, for instance.
* Through dovetails are cut through both boards so the joint is seen from two angles.
* Half-blind dovetails are cut so that the joint is seen on only one side. Many of the commercial dovetail jigs are limited to these types of dovetail.
* Full-blind dovetails are entirely hidden from view. They aren't used much now, although they used to be common.
* Sliding dovetails are made by cutting a dovetail shaped dado in one piece and a matching dovetail in the end of the other. The two pieces then slide together to make a secure lock. Sliding dovetails are a nice option for internal dividers although they can also be used on corners if you don't mind an overlapping edge.
Compound miters are miters that are cut on more than one angle. If you want to use mitered corners on a box with sides that slant, for instance, you would use compound miters.
Biscuit joinery is appropriate for case goods and works well in plywood and other manufactured materials.
These are just a few of the many woodworking joints you can use to build a box. Most of them can be refined, or even combined, to make them fit a specific purpose. Adding a decorative spline, for instance, can change a simple miter into an elegant joint.
Dowels can be added to a butt joint for strength and contrast. I encourage you to play around with different woodworking joinery to see what works and when.
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