One simple alternative to the more popular dovetail joint is the box joint. Both joints are classic and have sturdy methods to connect two pieces of stock. There are different ways to cut box joints, and you could do it using a dovetail saw and chisel. But if you don’t like to cut the fingers by hand, a simpler choice is to use a box joint jig.
Here’s how you can machine the fingers of the joint:
- Decide what width you want each finger to be and arrange the stacked dado set to match that width. The depth of the cut should be set to the same height as the stock’s thickness.
- After that, attach a scrap piece of stock onto your miter gauge. Make sure that the scrap is wide enough so that it extends past the blade when attached to the miter gauge. When wide enough, it should be at least an inch past the blade and at least two inches past the left side of the miter gauge.
- Check if the miter gauge, with the fastened piece of scrap stock, is square to the blade. Run the scrap through the saw.
- Now you can remove the scrap from the gauge. Bring it to the right twice the width of the fingers, and attach it onto the miter gauge again.
- Cut a stock piece with the same width as the fingers, which will fit into the space you cut into the scrap. But as for the length, this piece should be at least twice as long as the work pieces’ width.
- With a wood screw from the bottom, attach the resulting piece in the notch of the scrap. Arrange it so that it comes forward from the scrap facing the saw blade. Now this will serve as a gauge for cutting the fingers.
- Check if the miter is still square to the blade. Flick on the saw and cut a new notch in the scrap, maintaining its current position.
You now have set up a box joint jig. Start running your work pieces through the saw. Cut notches until all of the work piece’s fingers are formed.
Apply a thin layer of glue to assemble box joints. Do this on all joint surfaces and slide the joint together. You can clamp it if necessary. Box joints are best for making box-like structures like drawers or large wooden storage boxes. This type of joinery is a strong and useful one, but may pose a little challenging. There are several factors that can affect the precision of the box joints. Bad alignment of the blade to the miter slot, blade sharpness and botched miter gauges, including the manner of pushing the box joint jig through the dado blade, can influence the quality of the box joint jig.
But do not worry; you can work around these issues by simply following the steps mentioned here. Ensure that your materials are in good condition and remember that measurement accuracy is very important.