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Simple Through Dovetail Boxes

2028 Views 11 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  DesertRatTom
Hey Guys it's been a while. And I'm way late in getting these done but I would very much like to do 4-5 small dovetail boxes for my granddaughters. My intent is to do some through dovetails and have a variety of ways to get this done. I have the Incra system that will do them although it's been a few years since trying, I have the Panto Router that was recently acquired, and then the good old Leigh Dovetail jig that has not been assembled yet. I'm inclined to want to use the Incra but setting that up has been a challenge and I'm too late at this stag to try and hand cut my 1st dovetails. The Panto router may be the easiest to do... The top will not be hinged but rather rabitted to fit with 3/4" while the boxes themselevs will be 1/2" cherry and maple with a 1/4" bottom set in a grove. Hope this makes sense.

But back on point, is there a guide for proper sizing of such boxes? Some dimensional rule of thumb?

Thanks for any feed back.
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I make through DT boxes and by no way an expert. If there is a dimensional rule of thumb I don't know of it. I make the box for something specific and make the box big enough for it.
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I have both the Incra and Leigh and have used both for dovetails. I recommend the Leigh. In my opinion, it's much more versatile and easier to set up..
I have both the Incra and Leigh and have used both for dovetails. I recommend the Leigh. In my opinion, it's much more versatile and easier to set up..
Thanks for the reply.

Which Leigh jig do you have? I recently acquired the D4RPro 24" specifically for a blanket chest and some other larger dovetail projects. The chest does the 18" tall main section of chest. I caught it on sale and before the coming price increase. The unit came with their dust collection adapter which looks like it works extremely well. My old PC jig always left me with tons of sawdust. I need to get some practice wood and get this jig dialed in. Looking for some good videos showing the setup and dialing in of the cuts......
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I have a DR4 in 24", but mine is at least 20 years old. There has been a design improvement or two since then. The dust collector attachment works okay, but it's far from perfect. Better with than without, though. You're going to love the ability to easily do variable spaced dovetails.
Looking for some good videos showing the setup and dialing in of the cuts......
I got a Leigh a year ago, love it, does take practice though.

The manual is the best I've seen for a wood working tool, following it close step by step it's fairly clear.

I like the vacuum attachment, I'm just using a ShopVac with it, it helps to block off some of the air flow around the area.
It's a lot of careful and repetitious router movements, it's worth getting the jig at a comfortable height for you, for me that's about 6" added between the jig and the work table. Well secured of course.
Cutting dovetails by hand was the way I started way back about 60 years ago. I have bought several dovetail jigs over the years to make life easier. The last one I purchased was an Akeda about 12 years ago. It was an expensive jig but easy to use. However, most of my work since then does not utilize dovetails. I would try a less expensive jig to start and then upgrade if you find yourself making a lot of dovetails
How about some dimensions for what you call a small box. Are the dovetails 1/4”, 3/8” or 1/2”? For a child’s box, do you need a 1/4” thick bottom? I have used my Incra rig for half blind dovetails but not through dovetails. If you are happy with uniform spacing, the Incra 1/32” increment is great.
I think you want it to be a bit larger than a sheet of paper, maybe the fit the long dimension so a #10 envelope fits, and wide enough for a a sheet of paper, perhaps 9 to 10 inches. That will allow for all kinds of ephemeral items to fit. So that would be about 10 by 10 inches inside dimension square, with a depth of about 5 inches. Should handle most uses. If it's too large, papers will get messy.

The outside dimensions will be the inside measure, plus twice the thickness of the stock, plus 1/8th extra to allow the joint to be slightly proud. My thoughts anyhow.
The 'golden ratio' for small boxes is height times 1.618 for the side, times 1.618 for the length. If making a box that's for no particular purpose I'll tend to stick close to that but am happy to change things to accommodate the stock I have available. It's a shame you haven't done the basic set up on the Leigh D4R as once you've done that you can get some boxes made pretty quickly. It's much quicker and less fiddly than the Incra fence system.
Hi Steve, How's the box project going? I was thinking about it and what I'd do. I don't find dovetails attractive. I know, but it's a matter of personal taste. If I were making boxes, I'd probably cut the ends to 45 degrees and use a spline to join them. I'd probably round over each corner. I like the idea of the grain being continuous all round the box. Just personal preference. Here's a picture of a splined corner and how to cut it on a table saw. Notice the stop block next to the fence so make sure the spacing is identical for each spine slot. Use a Wixey digital angle gauge to get that blade to 45 exactly.
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