Cherry File Cabinet #3: Box Joints (or how not to make a plywood box)

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Blog entry by JimYoung posted 12-30-2014 12:22 AM 4225 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Vacuum bagging veneer and glue up Part 3 of Cherry File Cabinet series Part 4: Box Joints - 2nd Attempt »

Ok, so the carcass (correct term?) of the file cabinet is all glued up and came out really nice. I have a few touch ups with a sanding block to do.

I set off this morning in search of decent 1/2” plywood to make the two drawers. I ended up driving 1/2 an hour into town to Rockler to pickup a sheet of 1/2” Baltic Birch and some 1/4” for the bottoms, along with some satin Arm R Seal. Made a side trip on the way home to Lowes to spend the gift cards that were burning a hole in my pocket. Picked up Bosch 12V LiPo drill and impact driver. I like the small size and they had lots of torque. I’m done building decks, so they should suit me well in the shop and around the home. Back to the shop to make some dust…

The drawers are 14.5” x 20” x 8”, and my plan was to use my handy dandy box joint jig to make some cool looking corners for the drawers. I ripped down the plywood to 8” for the front and sides and 7.5” for the back. The bottom slides in from the rear and will be screwed to the rear of the drawer, hence the shorter back. I cut the blanks for the all of the parts and a few scraps to set up the box joint jig.

The jig was being temperamental today, and it moved on me once, luckily when I was setting it up. My 3/8” up spiral bit didn’t like the plywood and kept splintering it. I used a sacrificial piece in front of the work piece and this took care of the splintering. About half way through one set of drawer pieces, the bit was burning the wood and was not cutting a full 3/8” width (it will be a long wait until next year to ask Santa for a new bit!). I had to make multiple slow passes to try and widen the notches. Also, my dust collector was not sucking the chips away, so I looked like the abominable sawdust man. After I got one drawer done and was test fitting it together I discovered that the bit or router must have slipped and some of the notches were less than 1/2” deep, crap! Back to the router table.

Finally, once I got it all together, the joints were pretty tight. I was afraid the glue would swell the wood and it wouldn’t go together at all. So, I got it all squared up and used thin CA (super glue) on all of the joints. It’s not coming apart. So, tomorrow I’m coming up with a new plan for the other drawer, they won’t match but I could alway rectify that in the future. Suggestions are welcome, please, HELP!

The bottom line here is that in retrospect, using a box joint here was the wrong way to make these drawers.

The last straw was I grabbed the 1/4” plywood to cut the bottom. I had a 24”x30” piece, enough to do both drawers, assuming I cut it right! But no, I set the fence for 14”, grabbed the plywood and started shoving the 24” edge into the blade, crap! At least it fits and one drawer is done!

Time to get out of the shop, It’s Miller time!

-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

2 comments so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5757 posts in 2958 days

#1 posted 12-30-2014 12:30 AM

You could make a box joint jig for the tablesaw.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2835 days

#2 posted 12-30-2014 12:47 AM

I too prefer to make my box joints on the tablesaw.

Drawer lock joints are another option for building drawer boxes.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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