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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I've attached a file of a box (a project enclosure for a friends electronics, to replace the tacky plastic ones) I hope to make, not accurate or to scale, from a "routers eye view".
I've not put measurements on but it would be very small, around 10cm/4" across, and the height of the beech wood I have for the sides and back is 19mm/ 3/4". The top and bottom would be made out of something around 1/10th " walnut to give it a bit of colour.
As you can see most of it's butt joints, the dado on the top and bottom piece would hold in the missing front piece- which will be laser cut ply- with holes cut in for the switch and LED (and probably something for the battery, thinking about it!).
I currently have access to a CNC router and haven't actually used a hand router before, however I would honestly prefer to use manual one.
In my mind this box will work and look reasonable and be easily reproducible, but please let me know if you think my plan is flawed, I'm not particularly experienced. Thanks, Mark.
 

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Butt joints although easy won't be as strong as other joints. How are you planning to hold everything together? If I was doing it I would hold the sides together with box joints and the top and bottom with a rabbet joint. It would be best to cut the top off after the box is complete. If you want to make it fancy you could use a rounding over bit on all sides (like in your diagram) and then cut the top off.
 

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If you have curved corners, you will have some serious challenges and won't really be able to use butt joints. If the box is square, you can use your router to make a kind of tongue and groove arrangement Ir will be rabbits fitting into grooves, a simple drawer joint. This is a pretty strong joint, simple to make.

Glue a top and bottom on, or cut a groove for the bottom and a rabbit for the top, glue in a top, then cut open the top. You can use simple hinges on the top or so some semi visible barrel hinges, depending on how thick the sides/back/front is.

If you want it fancier and stronger, add splines.

You could also do it with mitered 45 degree corners and use a hidden spline for strength. This is a simple joint, but the 45s must be accurate. This is best done on a table saw to make the basic cuts, but could be done on a router with a 45 degree bit.
 

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Hi Mark and welcome. Without knowing what you have for tools to work with it's hard for us to suggest the best plan for you. It is a pretty small box so glue alone could be enough but I'd be a bit concerned with the top and bottom being so thin. It wouldn't tolerate much force with 1/10" think panels. The sides and back would be overkill at 3/4" on something that small, 1/2" would be plenty but unless you have a way to thin the pieces down then go with that. Glue the sides and back together first and then add the top and bottom. One of the issues you will face is getting and keeping the sides square with only 3 of them. You may need to add a "dummy piece across the front to help with that and then remove it once the glue has set on the other 3 pieces.
 

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BTW, welcome to the forum. Great place to work out issues like this. I tried to work out how you could do this with either a router or a table saw. To get that perfect 45 on the ends of all four pieces, if you have a table saw, you will want to get a Wixey digital angle gauge. You zero it on the table top, then tilt the blade until the Wixey reads exactly 45 degrees. Your corners should then fit nicely. You retract the blade, but keep it at 45 tilt and run the ends across it to cut the space for the spline. A full kerf blade is 1/8th inch thick, so your spline will also be 1/8th thick. I often use Purpleheart for visible splines because it is striking in appearance.

You can sand down the sharp corners slightly to soften the line a bit. Nice project either way.
 

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I've made a lot of boxes. I highly recommend you keep it as simple as possible to ensure success.

The first thing I do when planning one is to think about what it's going to hold - size/volume needed, type of access, special requirements, desired appearance and so on. Then I consider the material I can use. This allows me to see if I'm on the right track. Once I do that I think though methods of building it. Based on your initial post, I drew up a simplified version of what I think you want. I used 3mm material (sort of 1/10 of an inch, but generally available). You might consider 6mm material. Much easier to work with.

The first issue that leaps out - your curves are going to be hard to do and are, to be honest, well beyond beginner level. I suggest you forget about that.

The second thing is a question how you would attach the front panel and still have access to the inside. A dado for the front panel is a good idea though in 3mm material, you will find it tricky to cut by hand with a router - 1.5 mm is going to be a challenge. Not impossible but be prepared for a mistake or three before getting it right. Uniformity of your material is going to be an issue. A CNC could probably do it with the right bit. 6mm material will be a LOT easier. I'd make the front panel cover the entire front and attach with small screws for easy access to the insides.

Another issue is how you will put this together. Butt joints are perfectly fine but it is not clear how you would glue this together and keep it square and the parts aligned. That's why people do things like dados, rabbets, and other joints that force correct alignment of the pieces. Again, this is a lot easier in 6mm material. You could use 6mm for the sides and make rabbets. Then your 3mm top, bottom and back would fit in the rabbets and be well aligned and easy to glue. See the picture.

Now, when you are done, you coudl use a "round over" router bit to put curves on the top and bottom of the box to get closer to your original idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks so much for all the replies :) there's a bit of confusion over my image, sorry about this, I couldn't think how to make it clearer, the round edges are for the front and back, not the top, in my image we're looking down on each piece, seeing just the very top part, never the sides. I hope that makes it a bit clearer. Some great advice though, brilliant forum, you're all so helpful. I did have another idea about making it out of a solid piece of wood, just hollowing it out, and making a top piece in a similar fashion, which solves most of the gluing issues, but it just seems such a waste of material.
 

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Hey, Mark; welcome! Not to pile on or anything but if you don't mind filling in some bio info ...just click on Mark84 and a menu will open up for you...as has been previously mentioned it'll help other members understand what you have available in tools (and skilll level).
A lot of the members have and use a bandsaw in preference to a tablesaw, for instance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
OK, I've thought about this lots and looked at the replies, now I'm thinking I'm making life harder for myself than I need to, and in fact, because the cavity I need (which is just going to contain a battery and small circuit board, don't ask me any more, I'm not an electronics guy!) and my lack of skill joining wood that I could just route out a small block of wood, that way I don't have overly thick walls and I only have to make one join, which is a lid, and the 4 walls and base are one piece. I've a cnc router, which makes this pretty simple, but I'd love to hear how to route out say a 75mm x 60mm x 18mm (leaving 10mm on each side, and 1mm depth) cavity by hand in the most efficient way.
Thanks again gentlemen :) you're too kind.
 

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@PhilBa I like this idea for a beginner, it self squares itself as you assemble the box,and the rabits all way around give it a lot of strength.

Herb
Thanks! That was my intent. Rabbets are easy to get right (or close enough and sanding gets them the rest of the way).
 

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Welcome to the forum Mark. Knowing now that you have a CNC makes it easier for the members to give advice. That's paramount to the reason for asking about background and of course the name for a more personal touch.
 
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