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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I’m taking my first attempt at a real box. A nice one that can be displayed, using walnut and purpleheart.

The four sides are glued up and the top and bottom are made. But i am having trouble squaring up the top and bottom edges with each other. They are both mostly flat, but not quite, and also not perfectly parallel with each other. A gap will show between the bottom and the sides and between the top and the sides as it currently stands. It’s a small enough gap that clamps would likely fix the bottom but this isn’t the way to do things.

Can’t use the table saw because neither edge is truly square. I think during glue up, the bottom misaligned just enough to be a nuisance. Only option i can think of is to sand the entire edge at once on a large sheet of sandpaper. Any easier ways to do this? I do not have a hand plane that will be suitable for this.







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is the box square???
top and bottom parallel??

align your saw to start...

.
 

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Theo
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Oooo, I would never start a first time project using nice wood like that. I'd get some decent, but as cheap as I could find, and use it. Maybe do 2 or 3 before starting with that nice wood.

Years ago I read of a woodworking company, that made custom furniture, etc. First time they started something not made before they would use cheap wood, get all the parts right, assemble it, correct any errors, then sell the prototype for a low price. Then they'd move on to making the same item, except with the pricey wood, and could pretty much count on not making any mistakes. Good plan.
 

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Rick
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Could you make a sled/jig for your table saw to hold the box in place ?
I made drawers ,so I know where your coming from. I thought they would just glue together and be a cakewalk , but I ran into similar issues as you did . Fortunately I got things squared up before the tightbond dried
 

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When you make boxes, one of the first things you will learn from experience is that any piece not perfectly square is going to make the rest of the project very difficult to complete. The next thing you will learn is to make opposite sides at the same time, top and bottom, left and right, front and back and label each on the outside face to keep track of them and their desired orientation. A light pencil line label or piece of blue tape with the writing on it works very well. Pencil lines can be removed with alcohol, if you don't press so hard that the pencil leaves a dented line in the wood.

If the opposite sides are made the same and at the same time, a slight error in squareness or dimension isn't so critical as long as the two pieces are kept oriented the same way as you assemble the box. Orient one side so it's angled edge is opposite of it's mate and nothing is going to go together without a fight, and the battle scars will be visible after assembly. Just like a roof on a house, both ends of the roof must be sloped the same. You can't build the house with one end of the roof sloping the opposite direction. A small slope won't be as visible as long as both ends slope the same way.

You will also learn after building a few boxes, that it's best to make the box bottom and box top together, and then cut the top free after the box is glued and assembled. After assembly and gluing, I always draw a light diagonal line from box top to box bottom on the face side of the box before I cut the lid off and then I use my table saw to cut the top free by cutting opposite sides first, then inserting spacers to fill the saw kerf, then cutting the remaining two sides holding the bottom of the box tightly against the saw fence as each cut is made. This diagonal line will help you keep the facing side of the lid and bottom oriented the same when it comes time to install the hinges and latch. A box that is a slightly off square toward being a parallelogram will look fine if you don't put the lid back on it facing backwards.

If cutting box joints for the corners, again make the two sides at the same time, beginning the box joint cuts with a space on the bottom of both ends of each piece. Do the same with the front and back pieces, cutting both ends the same, except begin the cuts on the bottom end with a pin. Doing this will assure that the corners of the box will all go together, and a side benefit to this is that you can decide just before assembly which face of each piece will look better when faced outward and you can face the side that isn't so nice toward the inside of the box, but you can't make this choice if the two sides aren't perfectly square.

It's going to take making a few boxes before you get the technique fully figured out, so use cheap pine for your first few boxes. Set your present box pieces aside and go back to them after you have this experience. By then you will have the ability to square up the pieces of hardwood and assemble a box correctly. If you continue trying to build this box now I fear that you will only destroy some expensive wood or you will have a box that is a total eyesore.

I now make quite a few boxes every year, and I thoroughly enjoy the process, but I had to make several boxes out of scrap wood before I had my system fully figured out and could make boxes that I like quickly and easily.

Show us some photos of your completed practice boxes and we will help you avoid the mistakes for the next boxes, but please use cheap wood for your first practice boxes.

Charley
 

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Rick
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When you make boxes, one of the first things you will learn from experience is that any piece not perfectly square is going to make the rest of the project very difficult to complete. The next thing you will learn is to make opposite sides at the same time, top and bottom, left and right, front and back and label each on the outside face to keep track of them and their desired orientation. A light pencil line label or piece of blue tape with the writing on it works very well. Pencil lines can be removed with alcohol, if you don't press so hard that the pencil leaves a dented line in the wood.

If the opposite sides are made the same and at the same time, a slight error in squareness or dimension isn't so critical as long as the two pieces are kept oriented the same way as you assemble the box. Orient one side so it's angled edge is opposite of it's mate and nothing is going to go together without a fight, and the battle scars will be visible after assembly. Just like a roof on a house, both ends of the roof must be sloped the same. You can't build the house with one end of the roof sloping the opposite direction. A small slope won't be as visible as long as both ends slope the same way.

You will also learn after building a few boxes, that it's best to make the box bottom and box top together, and then cut the top free after the box is glued and assembled. After assembly and gluing, I always draw a light diagonal line from box top to box bottom on the face side of the box before I cut the lid off and then I use my table saw to cut the top free by cutting opposite sides first, then inserting spacers to fill the saw kerf, then cutting the remaining two sides holding the bottom of the box tightly against the saw fence as each cut is made. This diagonal line will help you keep the facing side of the lid and bottom oriented the same when it comes time to install the hinges and latch. A box that is a slightly off square toward being a parallelogram will look fine if you don't put the lid back on it facing backwards.

If cutting box joints for the corners, again make the two sides at the same time, beginning the box joint cuts with a space on the bottom of both ends of each piece. Do the same with the front and back pieces, cutting both ends the same, except begin the cuts on the bottom end with a pin. Doing this will assure that the corners of the box will all go together, and a side benefit to this is that you can decide just before assembly which face of each piece will look better when faced outward and you can face the side that isn't so nice toward the inside of the box, but you can't make this choice if the two sides aren't perfectly square.

It's going to take making a few boxes before you get the technique fully figured out, so use cheap pine for your first few boxes. Set your present box pieces aside and go back to them after you have this experience. By then you will have the ability to square up the pieces of hardwood and assemble a box correctly. If you continue trying to build this box now I fear that you will only destroy some expensive wood or you will have a box that is a total eyesore.

I now make quite a few boxes every year, and I thoroughly enjoy the process, but I had to make several boxes out of scrap wood before I had my system fully figured out and could make boxes that I like quickly and easily.

Show us some photos of your completed practice boxes and we will help you avoid the mistakes for the next boxes, but please use cheap wood for your first practice boxes.

Charley
I’m going to bookmark this ;)
 

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For flattening the top and bottom of boxes I got a roll of 120 grit sandpaper that has adhesives on the back. I glue pieces side by side to a flat piece of plywood - enough to make it around 18 inches square. I then draw a line on the edge of the top and bottom of the box all the way around. I rub the box over the sandpaper until the pencil mark is gone. Then do the other edge.

Also I use a sled on the tablesaw to cut all my pieces. Everything has to be cut accurate or I am in deep doo-doo. When gluing up a box, I alway use a square to check it before letting the glue cure.

Malcolm / Kentucky USA
 

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Mickey, if you're a member of Fine Woodworking you can see some videos of box making that is well detailed. One series is seen here. If for some reason you can't see the videos then some article are also on the site such as this one https://www.finewoodworking.com/2009/10/16/make-a-box-from-reclaimed-lumber

There are plenty of well documented step by step videos and articles explaining the process and best practices although Charley has given you some solid advice. Most of the woodworking magazines have search features that allow you to search their site for specific topics.
 

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I use router skis, an extremely useful addition in any shop. I have a pdf on the forum showing how to make them. Place the box on the bench held in place with a scrap of MDF,wood etc pinned around the sides as shown. In your case use shims to prop the box making the sides vertical then rout around the top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Oooo, I would never start a first time project using nice wood like that. I'd get some decent, but as cheap as I could find, and use it. Maybe do 2 or 3 before starting with that nice wood.


I did this. The problem occurred during the clamp and glue up i believe.




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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I did this. The problem occurred during the clamp and glue up i believe.

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This is what I’m working with now. The top and bottom will be bigger than the box. The box you see behind it came out fine.







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Getting everything cut to the exact same size is a possible issue. You might be able to use your table saw to cut everything exactly parallel and flat. Make a sled with clamps on it. The sled has a straight edge and/or miter bars so it goes straight into the blade. Use this sled with oversized wood to cut a perfectly straight edge. Use that edge against the fence, and cut to exact width. Cut your posts the same way from a long piece with pre-cut slots. Use the table saw to cut the tenons on the ends of the side pieces.

If you don't have a Wixey Digital angle gauge (new ones use AAA batteries) to make certain the blade is set precisely to 90 degrees.

For boxes, if you're going to make many, pop for the blade that has quarter and 3/8ths sizes depending on how you install the blade.

Lots of ways to skin this feline.
 
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