A Beginner’s Mitered Box
I recently set about building my first box while their was space and time available in the shop here at Fine Woodworking. I decided on a simple miter box to test out Matt Kenney’s grain-matched, four-corner miter technique and also to give myself some more experience cutting joints, rabbets and grooves on the table.
As an avid mechanic, I’ve had very little chance to work with wood outside of my days as an apprentice in my father’s business as a framer/roofer. Even that experience did not include any type of furniture or truely fine woodworking.
The materials were all cut-offs or scraps I found around the Fine Woodworking shop. The sides are white oak and the top and bottom are maple. The box is roughly 5 1/2 in. wide, 2 in. tall and 3 1/2 in. deep.
All rabbets, grooves, and miters were cut on the table saw. This proved to be the hardest part of the build. Even with the awesome SawStop tablesaw in the shop, adjusting the sled and blade perfectly required micro shimming to get my miters nice and tight. Ben Blackmar gave me the idea of using strips of blue tape to make the final adjustments to the shop’s heavily-used miter sled.
The design for the box was heavily influenced by a box designed by Matt Kenney which also featured his technique for perfect grain-match miters.
As my first solo project, I’m very happy with the results. If I were to do it again, I’d leave even more space for the bottom to move. I’ll see just how tight it is when summer gets here.
The piece that would become the sides of the box, found in the cut-off bin.
Here are the oak sides after a resaw, ready to be cut to final length and mitered.
More resawing, this time for the maple lid and bottom. This maple was leftover from one of fellow editor Ben Blackmar's upcoming projects.
Here are the sides laid out with their grooves cut for the bottom. Tape was used to ease in the removal of squeeze-out from the inside corners.
The box was finished with a diluted shellac finish technique suggested by Matt Kenney in a How-To Video titled "Box Making Tips and Tricks." Even as a novice finisher, it came out great and took about 45 minutes start to finish.
Tape was also used to apply clamping pressure during glue-up. This method applies equal pressure against each corner and also keeps squeeze out in check.
The four-corner grain match worked well. It would have been even closer if the stock I used had been a bit wider to accomodate Matt's technique to it's full potential.
The finished product. The small cocobolo pull was added and the entire piece was finished with Renaissance wax polish.