Hand Tools doings #9: Rabbetted box

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 03-18-2008 03:44 AM 4874 reads 2 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: It's a start, first all hand tool project Part 9 of Hand Tools doings series Part 10: Precision cutting »

I’m still experimenting with these hand tools. So far I’ve twiddled with dovetails, butt joints, and now rabbetted joints.

I’ve managed to learn to cut on a bench hook.


The idea of a bench hook to to be able to support your work piece against a fence and have a ledge to cut into – when you finish your cut the saw rests on the ledge and does not accidently fall onto the bench hitting something it should not. You don’t need to clamp your work piece, the hand holding it against the fence is enough to keep it still—this allows you put more finese to the saw and takes less energy to do the cut.

By the way – its still a good idea to keep your fingers away from the saw. Even a hand saw cuts flesh (sorry for the poor picture quality – that hurt and I was shaking a bit..


Next onto the shooting board.



I cut my four pieces and used the shooting board to make the two sides and front and back the same lengths. It’s amazing that you can feel just a very tiny variance between two pieces.


After laying out my pieces to decide where my groove should go for the bottom – I clamped the work piece in my homemade bench vise and used the small plow plane to cut an 1/8” groove.


Yep – the ply fits like a glove.


Now all 4 pieces are grooved.


Next I rabbett the two ends of the front and back.


This is what I end up with after all the cuts.


So here is the finished box.


Notice all the chamfers. That hides a lot of sins! The lid does not sit flat. I still need to do a bit of sanding.


This shows the bottom of the lid. Looks like a beaver got to it.


This is the bottom. You can see it’s not perfect.


I will do a little hand sanding, flock the inside and put a finish on it. It did not turn out to bad. The planes have a learning curve that I’m still working on.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

16 comments so far

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 4018 days

#1 posted 03-18-2008 04:06 AM

That’s great! Man, I gotta get me some of those specialty planes. The smallest chisel I have is 1/4” so I can’t very well do a groove as narrow as that. I’ve actually thought about filing down and honing an allen wrench (I don’t have a grinder) and just gluing that up inside a block of wood to use as a makeshift tiny chisel.

As for the rabbets – saw and chisel. Not an easy way to do it. I love the look of that rabbet plane – homemade?

-- Eric at

View Betsy's profile


3392 posts in 4130 days

#2 posted 03-18-2008 04:11 AM

Eric – I wish I could have made a plane that nice, but nope – its a Lee Valley purchase.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 4018 days

#3 posted 03-18-2008 04:15 AM

Well, whenever you do get around to making one, I’ll send you my address so you can pass that one along to me. ;^)

-- Eric at

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4056 days

#4 posted 03-18-2008 04:25 AM

Very nice, Betsy. You are improving markedly with each post. Are you going to put a finish on your box?

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4035 posts in 4298 days

#5 posted 03-18-2008 06:05 AM

Got a nice box and some dandy tools, too. The two Veritas planes and the E.C. Emmerich rabbet plane, I recognize but I don’t know that saw. Whacha got there, Betsy?

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Betsy's profile


3392 posts in 4130 days

#6 posted 03-18-2008 06:14 AM

I’ll keep that in mind Eric.

Doug – its a Japanese saw—- not sure if its the one with the R or the D. But it cuts on the pull stroke, Cuts like a knife through butter actually.

Scott – yes I plan to put a finish of some sort on after I get a little more cleaning up done on it.

I have to give myself props on this though – this all hand tool box actually looks better than my first all machine box. So there is progress being made.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4223 days

#7 posted 03-18-2008 07:00 AM

Boy, you are getting better by the day! Sorry about the boo boo.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View schwingding's profile


133 posts in 4060 days

#8 posted 03-18-2008 04:22 PM

That Veritas plow plane makes me plenty envious!

-- Just another woodworker

View johnjoiner's profile


160 posts in 4128 days

#9 posted 03-18-2008 04:24 PM

Ooh! You have the Veritas plow plane! I played with that for about 20 minutes at the woodworking show a few weeks ago. How do you like it? That can cut rabbets too, though not as wide as the rabbets you cut on your box lid.

Your fillister plane has a scoring blade on it, doesn’t it? That’s supposed to prevent tear-out like you got on the underside of your lid. On your next box you can try scoring a deep line with a knife or even saw a shallow kerf where the edge of the rabbet goes to avoid that tear-out when rabbeting end grain.

You’re assembling a nice collection of hand tools. Nice job on the box!

-- johnjoiner

View davidtheboxmaker's profile


373 posts in 4040 days

#10 posted 03-18-2008 05:08 PM

You’ve got a nice collection of hand tools developing. Neat box.

View Betsy's profile


3392 posts in 4130 days

#11 posted 03-19-2008 02:37 AM

John the plow plane is sweet! Comes ready to use out of the box. There’s a learning curve on keeping it level – you wouldn’t think so – but it’s easy to tip it one way or the other. It may not be so bad on a larger work piece. The pieces I was working on was pretty small.

As for the scoring blade on the fillister plane – it does have one. The issue is making sure it’s set correctly. I think the knife kerf is a good idea.

Thanks David. Boxes are a favorite – small but still lots to them.

As to the hand tool collection. Well, I look at in as an investment in my health. If only I could my flex plan to apply I’d be in great shape. :-)

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View clieb91's profile


3545 posts in 4169 days

#12 posted 03-19-2008 03:26 AM

Betsy, The hand tool work is looking good. I should invest in some decent planes and use them as well. I do like reaching for the hand tools when I have a chance.

Thanks for posting your journey down this route, look forward to seeing more of it.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4109 days

#13 posted 03-19-2008 04:18 AM

Excellent! Great to see some results. Nice job on the first all-hand tool box.

-- Happy woodworking!

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4109 days

#14 posted 03-19-2008 10:24 AM

Way to work the hand tools. This has been an encouraging series.

View Betsy's profile


3392 posts in 4130 days

#15 posted 03-19-2008 03:08 PM

Thanks guys. I really do appreciate the encouragement. I’m putting a finish on this box now and will flock the inside then post my finished project. After sanding it a bit, it looks better.

Thanks again.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

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