First Box #7: Glued up, back to the table saw

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Blog entry by Bret posted 12-13-2009 07:47 PM 1369 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Almost ready to glue up! Part 7 of First Box series Part 8: Sanded, tinted & shellac'd »

Lacking a band saw, I had to turn to my table saw to cut the lid free once the box was glued up. I used a combination of masking tape and a Bessey band clamp to hold the box together while the glue dried overnight.

Using a full-kerf blade (since it was already installed for cutting the key slots and since a thin-kerf blade would only have saved me 1/32” of wood) I cut the lid free from the box and was surprised by how well it worked. Apart from the burn marks that I’ll have to sand out, the cut lined up really well.

What really made this work wonderfully was a tip from Doug Stowe’s boxmaking book—instead of setting the blade to cut all the way through the sides, I cut just a hair’s breadth short. This kept the cut sides lined up until all four were cut, then I used a utility knife to slice the top away. A chisel cleaned up both sides and sanding will catch anything the chisel missed.


I made a story stick using the key miter jig to see if I liked where I placed the slots and once I was happy, turned to making the key slots themselves. My tablesaw lacks a miter slot so I basically held the jig in place against the fence on the sliding table part of my saw and prayed hard that it wouldn’t flex. Good thing I did this work on a Sunday because the results were better than I’d have hoped.


Unfortunately, my table saw blade has alternating teeth and so I have to flatten the key slots. I’m not sure how to do this apart from gluing some sandpaper to a 1/8” piece of wood and sanding them down by hand carefully. I don’t have a file that thin. Any good suggestions?


I’ve also got all the walnut keys cut and ready for installation. Some fit tight enough that they might not need glue; others aren’t quite so snug. It’s about 50/50 between the two pieces of walnut I used. Once I can figure out the slots, I’ll glue in the keys, sand the box so it sits flat (it rocks just a tiny bit right now) and sand the mating edges of the top and lid before cutting the hinge recesses in top and box.

Thanks for all the comments, suggestions, and support!

-- Woodworking is easy as 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510...

10 comments so far

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 2692 days

#1 posted 12-13-2009 08:11 PM

Very nice…and quite innovative…I guess you would call that a TS Box? As for the key slots…..I was thinking you might take a small flat head screwdriver and grind an edge on it (using a grinder or sandpaper glued to a piece of wood) can use that to flatten the bottoms of your cuts. I have several shop made devices like this for cleaning slots and grooves….you can get small screwdrivers at the dollar store or at yard sales for peanuts….

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2756 days

#2 posted 12-13-2009 08:53 PM

Very nice box. The screwdriver idea or a some kind of chisel is a good idea. A high tensile strength nail sharpened and glued into a handle would also be good. Personally I wouldn’t dare use a grinder because a little slip could do a lot of damage very quickly. A stick with some double sided tape to adhere sandpaper sounds good to me.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View NBeener's profile


4808 posts in 2595 days

#3 posted 12-13-2009 09:18 PM


That’s just looking beautiful.

Really nice work!

-- -- Neil

View Dez's profile


1162 posts in 3499 days

#4 posted 12-13-2009 11:01 PM

I can’t remember how many specialty tools I’ve made from old screwdrivers, from awls and punches to scrapers to match an existing profile. Most decent screwdrivers are good enough steel and some cheaper ones can be tempered with a torch. You can make a tool for this with a grinder and water to cool it. (If you don’t already have a chisel the proper size.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View SPalm's profile


5249 posts in 3303 days

#5 posted 12-14-2009 01:10 AM

The last time I did some table saw keys, I left the little center ridge. Several people commented “Wow, how did you do that little point?”. So, leaving them is an option.

I have a small set of files in a plastic folding case made by Nicholson. They call it a Hobby File Set. I think they sell it at the big box stores. One of these will work, but it is still a lot of filing.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View bigike's profile


4048 posts in 2710 days

#6 posted 12-14-2009 01:25 AM

yea the needle files work but i just got a ts blade that cuts a flat bottom and did it this way but before that i used the sandpaper then after that a small file i got from a friend if u have just a rip blade this will work but it has to cut a flat bottom also blades without the HATB will work too it just comes smaller (the point) but doesnt show up when u glue the splines in. as for the burn marks try soaking them with mineral spirits and let it soak in then sand i did it on some oak i had and it came out real good. all in all this is gonna be a real nice box just keep going like how u are very slow.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 2999 days

#7 posted 12-14-2009 01:32 AM

It’s coming along very well

-- Custom furniture

View Bret's profile


162 posts in 2916 days

#8 posted 12-14-2009 01:39 AM

I had thought of leaving the points in, but wasn’t sure how to cut a similar recess into the keys….

-- Woodworking is easy as 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510...

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 3331 days

#9 posted 12-14-2009 02:21 AM


Have you considered using a 1/8” chisel to pare out the waste? You could make a paring block with a 45 degree angle clamped to the side to keep it flat.


-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View Bret's profile


162 posts in 2916 days

#10 posted 12-14-2009 04:02 AM

I just found a 1/8 chisel at Woodcraft. Going to give that a try first.

-- Woodworking is easy as 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510...

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