Hello everyone! Earlier this week I was in a 3-night woodworking class on how to make a dovetail box with hand-cut joinery. It was an enjoyable experience and I learned a lot. Today, I’m sharing my new-found knowledge. You can think of this as notes from my class.
My first box. 🙌 Covered in flaws but I still like it. 🤣 I’m eager to make another one. 👍 . #firstwoodenbox #woodenbox #woodworking #woodshop #woodworker #woodcraft #cherry #hardwood #box #boxmaking #dovetail #dovetails #sloppydovetails #dowoodworking #woodshop #alabama #finewoodworking #carpentry #diy #handtools #handtool #handcut #handcutjoinery
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links.
Tools and Supplies
The following items are some of the tools and supplies I used to make the dovetail box.
- 1/4″, 1/2″ and a 1″ chisel
- Wooden mallet
- Dovetail saw
- Marking gauge
- Combination square
- Workbench with a vise
- Router table with a round over, cove and rabbet router bits
- Table saw
- Dovetail template
- 1/2″ Cherry board
- 3/4″ Cherry board
- Wood glue
How to make a dovetail box with hand-cut joinery
The boards I used in the class were milled and cut to size ahead of time so I’ll skip those steps. Before starting on the project, I arrange the boards in a way that the grain pattern looked the most appeasing. To keep track of that arrangement, I labelled each corner.
Step 1. Mark the thickness of the boards with a marking gauge
Step 2. Transfer the dovetail template onto the ends of the short sides
Step 3. Cut out and chisel the pins
Step 4. Trace pin shape onto the ends of the long boards
Step 5. Cut out and chisel dovetails
Step 6: Glue box together
I had few large gaps in my joints. To hide the gap, here’s a tip that I learned:
- With a chisel, slice thin wedges of wood
- Apply glue to each side of the wedge
- Lodge the wedge into the gap.
You can see my wedges sticking out in the picture above.
Step 7. Cut lid and base of the box to final size
Step 8. Route box lid
- Route the bottom side of the lid with a 3/4″ rabbet router bit with a depth of 1/4″. (I recommend doing this as a series of shallow passes to reduce the amount of tear out)
- Route the top side of the lid with a round over bit
Step 9. Route base of the box
- Route the top of the lid base with a 3/4″ rabbet router bit. The box should fit snug inside of the raised rectangle created from this step. Micro adjustments may be necessary.
- Route the top of the lid base with a cove router bit.
Step 10. Glue, sand and apply a finish
Dovetail box with hand-cut joinery
My box is covered in flaws, but despite that, I still like it. Box making is fun and I look forward to making many more wooden boxes in the future.