Monday, May 5, 2014
Easy Box Joints On the Tablesaw
While waiting for the glue to dry on my vanity project, I started a side project for my oldest daughter and thought this would be a great time to show how I'm going to build the drawers for the vanity. For any boxes or drawers, I love to use the box joint because it looks beautiful like its cousin the dovetail, it is so simply to make compared to traditional dovetails, can be made using a cheap crappy tablesaw like the one I have, and has lots of glue surfaces so it a very strong joint. To make the jig you need, I glued a small strip of wood to the bottom of another scrap piece of wood to act as a ledger to support my work pieces over the large throat opening of my tablesaw. Because it is a cheap tablesaw, I really can't make anything to fill the opening when working with my dado blade set so this helps improve safety. Clamp the wood to your miter slide and cut a notch in it with the dado set you want to use for your box joint. Fill that notch with another scrap piece of wood which will help you set the gauge for make all the rest of the notches. Slide the wood over and more permanently attach it to your miter gauge using a piece of your same notch filling material (that should be the exact width of your dado set) to gap the piece you filled in to the dado blade. The jig is now ready to go.
This picture just shows how I bolted my jig to my miter gauge so that I can reuse it on other projects. I also wrote what blades I used in my dado set on the jig face so that I can be sure to set it up the same every time.
To start, you lay the piece down on top of the ledger board on the bottom of the jig and raise the dado blade height so it is just slightly taller than the thickness of your material plus the ledger board. This will ensure that once you do a little sanding, everything will be nice and flush. Then you but the first side of your work piece to the glued in notch stop and make your first pass.
Place the notch you just cut on the notch stop block and make your second cut. Repeat for the width of the board and then flip the board over and do the other side making sure you begin on the same edge of the board on both sides. This way if you end up with a partial finger on one end, things still line up properly.
To cut the side pieces, you take your first piece that you cut and turn it around so that the first full finger is now between the notch block and the blade. You then slide your adjoining piece up next to it and cut your first notch as shown above.
Now you can set that notch on your notch block and repeat down the board like before and flipping it end for end to keep the sides the same like before.
In the end, you should end up with a project like above that I was able to complete in about a half hour from setting up the jig to the test fitting shown above. Note there are two boxes sitting on top of each other.
My daughter has a step stool box that she used when she was younger to be able to reach the bathroom sink to brush her teeth and wash her hands. It has a lid on it that she can open up and put things inside the upper step. When she outgrew it, she moved it into her room and uses the storage space to store her 'secret' things which are little doodads and mementos she has collected over the years. I know enough to respect her privacy and not sort through her saved stuff but my MIL and her sisters who visit can't seem to resist the temptation to sort through it and throw stuff out that is not important to them but very important to my daughter. So in an effort to prevent more future tears, I am making a small chest for my daughter that she can lock up and prevent others from sifting through her things. An added benefit is that we can get the step stool back for our youngest daughter who will be needing it in the near future to reach the bathroom sink. I will show you the completed box when I get it finished in another post.