A Better Way to Build Boxes
Expert jigs and tips speed the process
Synopsis: This striking box, with its maple sides and contrasting mesquite top, is one of Doug Stowe’s favorites and is an ideal project for demonstrating a continuous-grain construction method that is quick, simple, and elegant. The top is a floating panel that sits in a groove in the sides that serves two purposes: it makes the parts look thicker than they are, and it hides the gap for seasonal wood movement. The sides are joined with miters and splines. Simple jigs and sleds, plus a no-clamp assembly method help speed the construction process.
From Fine Woodworking #201
I began making and selling boxes in the 1970s, and I’ve made them in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and styles. This one, though, has always been a favorite. I’ve made it in a variety of woods, and I like how the sides create a visual contrast with the top and miter splines. I also like the top: It’s a floating panel but that’s not obvious at first. The secret is a groove in both the top and sides. When they come together, the top and sides seem thinner than they are and the gap for expansion and contraction is hidden.
The sides have continuous grain: The sides are made from 3⁄8-in. stock, a suitable thickness for a small box. Because I like the appearance of the grain running continuously around all four sides, I add a few extra steps when preparing the stock. A continuous-grain look requires resawing, so start with stock milled flat to at least 1 1⁄8 in. thick. It should be about 4 1⁄2 in. wide and at least 16 in. long, a little longer than the length of the box front and one side.
Using a bandsaw, resaw the stock into two pieces, each just over 1⁄2 in. thick.…