Boxland: Work Stations and Boxing Tips #9: Making an Attached Top Box

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Blog entry by Boxguy posted 485 days ago 2674 reads 9 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Cutting the Corner 45 Degree Angles Part 9 of Boxland: Work Stations and Boxing Tips series Part 10: Adding Splines To A Box »

I make two kinds of box tops.

Boxes with inset tops (above) where the the top floats in a dadoed groove that runs around the sides,

and attached tops where the top is glued directly onto the sides of the box. This tutorial will feature the attached top method, and a press design to help with this process.

Of course you can use clamps to hold the top on until the glue sets. But I prefer this press.

The press features 8 all-thread sections with a compression spring and plastic pipe around the all-thread at each corner. The springs are meant to hold the press open so you can place a box inside without having to fight with the press.

So in this box the splines were glued in, the top has had glue applied and has had the rough top set on the box.

To save time I often will install the splines and add the top then I can let both of them cure at the same time.

Now it gets set into the press and then I use an impact driver to tighten the nuts and apply even pressure to the top.

This version has a welded metal lattice that keeps the all-thread from turning and strengthens the bottom plywood.

This shot demonstrates a 2×8 wooden cull added on top of the box top to make it easier to tighten in the press.

So now you can tighten the nuts with the impact driver and let the glue dry. Sure, you could use a ratchet wrench, but the impact driver is so much cooler and faster. I usually start at opposing corners and then move in and do a final re-tighten.

When the press is not being used, the press and some culls are stored on the shelf above the glue-up table.

-- Big Al in IN

12 comments so far

View CalgaryGeoff's profile


936 posts in 1064 days

#1 posted 485 days ago

Awesome idea. Thanks for posting.

-- If you believe you can or can not do a thing, you are correct.

View ellen35's profile


2556 posts in 2015 days

#2 posted 485 days ago

Great idea on the press. It is like having a caul that covers the entire top and bottom… you are a clever man!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Blackie_'s profile


3256 posts in 1095 days

#3 posted 485 days ago

Just what I needed, thanks for this tutorial big Al, is there ever anytime that you would use a .45 mitered top? The reason I ask is because I was at one of our local woodworkers meetups and the organizer also a class teacher demonstrated all sides, bottom and top mitered.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View ratchet's profile


1281 posts in 2369 days

#4 posted 485 days ago

Good blog! Your clamp appears to function well. Thx for sharing it with us.

View moonls's profile


406 posts in 1569 days

#5 posted 485 days ago

That’s a very clever idea. You’ve eliminated a lot of clamps!

-- Lorna, Cape Cod

View Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor's profile

Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor

4896 posts in 1891 days

#6 posted 485 days ago

Good design Big Al…You have designed alot of creative jigs for making your work easier and faster.

-- Every step of each project is considered my masterpiece because I want the finished product to reflect the quality of my work.

View DocSavage45's profile


4678 posts in 1425 days

#7 posted 485 days ago

I like the inovative use of springs to aid in efficiency! And the metal reinforcement for keeping pressue equal.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Boxguy's profile (online now)


1394 posts in 850 days

#8 posted 485 days ago

Blackie, your question is would I ever use mitered top? I just finished making some boxes of African Mahogany Crotch grain and wanted to have the grain wrap around the box from back to front instead of from side to side. Now you need to know that this takes a very wide board… nearly 18 inches…but I had that kind of wood and board. I think the Brit Box Maker uses this 45 technique in his EZ box method too. Aside from that, I can see any advantage in this joinery and it takes a lot of extra work to make this type of joint.

-- Big Al in IN

View Blackie_'s profile


3256 posts in 1095 days

#9 posted 485 days ago

Big Al that makes perfect since, I guess you could use this technique if you combined (joined) two together or maybe a center piece of different wood or two outer pieces.


-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View Boxguy's profile (online now)


1394 posts in 850 days

#10 posted 484 days ago

Randy, this is an example of just what you are talking about. A center-matched piece in an inset box top. It can be quite effective visually. I would guess the instructor is using some version of the EZ box method seen here by the Brit Boxmaker.

-- Big Al in IN

View Roger's profile


13931 posts in 1386 days

#11 posted 484 days ago

That is a fine press. Ingenious!

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

View exit116's profile


108 posts in 374 days

#12 posted 369 days ago

such a great idea, I like the use of the impact driver because it has built in torque stop to clamp evenly.

-- Money: if you do not have fun earning it, have fun spending it, I do not enjoy spending it so I have fun earning it.

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