To make a box (1)

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elm jewellery box

For anyone interested in the making process this page will give you a step by step guide on how my boxes are constructed. The images were taken whilst making a small set of jewellery boxes, one example is shown on the left.

Click on images to enlarge.

Having prepared the box parts and marked out where I want the dovetails I am ready to begin the making process. Hand-cut dovetails are how I joint my box carcases. I use a Japanese handsaw to cut the tails first. The mirror enables me to stop the cut before the mark on the face I can't see.
cutting dovetails
dovetails cut
To work efficiently I cut all the tails for the ten boxes at the same time.
The next stage is to mark out where the pins are in relation to the tails. I have made a simple jig so that I can cramp the parts securely at right angles to each other. I then use a sharp scalpel to mark out the pins.
marking pins
before cleaning up pins
Here I have cut close to the scalpel line with a saw and removed most of the waste.
An aerial shot of me paring slithers of wood down to the scalpel line with a very sharp chisel.
paring slithers of wood
dry run
Time for a dry run. I use a block of wood to protect the box parts as I tap the joints together. Not too much force should be needed to close the joint up otherwise the wood will split. If they go together with hardly any force needed the joint is too sloppy.
When I am happy with the dovetail joints I can carve my logo. On these boxes the logo is on the inside back face. You can also see a groove for the bottom.
carving logo
lid components
Moving on to the lid now. This image shows all the lid components before assembly. This is known as a frame and panel lid. The solid panel fits in a groove in the frame and is not glued allowing it to expand and contract freely depending on the moisture content in the wood. You can also see the frame joints before glue-up. These are called "bridle joints".
I use a sharp block plane to " clean up " the lid parts.
using a block plane
gluing up lids
Gluing up the lids. This jig allows me to apply pressure on 4 sides at the same time.
After the lid is glued up I use a block plane to level the joints.
leveling the joints
curve on front of lid
The curve on the front of the lid is formed using a jig on a router table.
Moving on to the trays now. This image shows a tray before assembly. The partition pieces slot into the sides and are strengthened later with walnut dowels. The corners are mitred and strengthened with walnut splines after assembly. This is a bottom tray with a rebate on the top edge. The top tray has a rebate on the bottom edge so the two fit together.
tray before assembly
partitions glued
The trays are glued together in 2 operations. The partitions are glued in first.
A strap is used to pull the mitres up tightly to complete the glue up.
completing the glue up
two slots in the corners
After glue up I machine two slots in the corners of the trays.
I then glue in walnut splines.
walnut splines
using a block plane
The splines are planed flush using a block plane.
I now turn to my metal working lathe. Here I am making some metal dowel bushes to fix in a jig for drilling holes exactly where I want them on the tray sides.
metal working lathe
dowel jig
The completed jig with accurately positioned dowels.
The jig in action. I am drilling holes into the partitions here to strengthen the joint with walnut dowels.
jig in action
paring walnut dowels flush
The walnut dowels are glued in place and then trimmed flush with a chisel.
Here are the trays stacked up after completion.
trays stacked after completion
pins and tails protruding
Back to work on the box carcases. After glue up the pins and tails protrude slightly.
Here are the joint after the pins and tails are planed flush.
pins and tails planed flush
fitting the lids
And finally here I am starting the process of fitting the lids. I chop out for the hinge in the lid first.
I place the lid on the box carcase and use packing pieces (in this case old bits of sandpaper) to centralise it. I then mark the position of the hinges on the carcase with a scalpel.
positioning lid on box
making vertical cuts
I make a series of vertical cuts first of all.
I then make horizontal cuts to remove the waste.
making horizontal cuts
aiming for a tight fit
I am aiming for a nice tight fit.
The lid nicely fitting on the box carcase.
lid nicely fitting
tray support
Finally, here is one of the tray supports ready to be fitted to the inside of a box. I have angled the top edge to give a "lead in" for the trays.
Boxes for sale up to £250
Boxes for sale £250 to £550
Boxes for sale £550 to £1000
Boxes for sale over £1000
Testimonials
Home
Profile
Commissioning
Construction
Personal boxes
Gallery
Dovetails
Workshop news
The work bench
Jewellery trays
Hinges
Handles
Veneering
Drawers
Glossary
Wood
To make a box (1)
To make a box (2)
To make a box (3)
Resources
Contact

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