One of the most recognizeable joints in woodworking is the dovetail joint. It has been around for centuries and is always associated with quality. In the past century one of the main purposes of dovetail joints is in making drawers, which is a real pity because dovetail joints are such a pretty joint they should really by "seen" more often. What many woodworkers don't realize is that as popular as dovetail joints are, they are often confused with another joint called "box joint", which is similar in design and look, but box joints have square pins and tails compared to dovetail which have angled pins and tails.
When comparing the two joints, the dovetail joint is easily the prettiest of the two but slighly more difficult to make. The dovetail joint It appears to take more time to make and just looks better. Among woodworkers, anyone who can actually hand-cut high quality dovetails are often held in high regard. One of the best people for hand cutting dovetail joints that I have had the pleasure of meeting and working in association with at woodworking shows is Rob Cosman. I can't imagine how many dovetail joints Rob must have cut in his lifetime, but the quality of his cuts is evidence that practice make perfect. Check out Rob's website for more information on dovetail joints at www.robcosman.com.
Now, back to the topic of box joints, and comparing the jigs and how to make them.
What most woodworkers don't realize is the most people who know a bit about fine furniture will call box joints dovetail joints. There is really only a small portion of the population that really know the difference. It's almost like what a woodworker told me once, "if you want to impress another woodworker, make a dovetail joint, if you want to impress the rest of the population, a box joint will work just fine". To back up his claim, I told him that I had been in a number of situations where people have called box joints dovetail joints, and he agreed and confirmed that only a very few, knowledgeable furniture experts have been able to identify the difference.
So, what are some of the best ways to make these joints, well, read on and we will show talk about them.
In this article we discuss three different box joint jigs, all of which work fine but all of which have their pros and cons. The first box joint jig is a simple piece of 3/4" plywood that is fastened to a mitre gauge. Now this jig can be used on a table saw or on a router. The jig is simply made by make the first cut through the plywood board with the same size box joint size that you are want to make, for example 1/4". Once you make the cut through the plywood you then need to make a small "positioning pin" that sits somewhat tightly into the slot you have just made, then that positioning slog needs to be positioned exactly 1/4" to the right of the saw blade, and re-fastened to the mitre gauge. The way this jig works is that each slice is through your work piece is then then re-positioned using the positioning pin. By moving your work piece along the jig you will eventually make a whole side box joints. Do this for all eight ends of the box and how you will have a box that is jointed at the corners by box joints. These simple jigs work fine, but are slow and tedious to use.
Another similar jig can be found by purchasing plans on-line. Again, allows for work pieces to go through one at a time but in this case the jig is fully adjustable in that not only can you adjust the size of the pins but also the tails by simply turning knobs on the back of the jig. This jig works fine, but like the simple jig, it really only like to have one piece of working wood at a time, which is a problem if you are wanting to make a lot of box joints.
Most of the dovetail jigs that are commercially available also offer box joint jig options, but there is another alternative and that is to make a dedicated, mechanical box joint jig. The plans for a jig, from what we can gather, wer originally developed by Lynn Sabin. Today plans for this are very kindly provided for free, on the website www.thesharkguard.com. There are also some interesting products you may want to check out on this website.
Lynn Sabin's jig is the same design as that is used in on the www.woodgears.ca site. The advantage to the woodgears desgin is that Mathias has developed gears that can be attached to the jig to make it much easier and more convenient to use. At one time you could even purchase box joint jigs through this website and that option may still be available.
If you would like to make your own box joint jig we invite you to visit the links provided to determine what is best for you and your equipment.
Copyright - Colin Knecht