Dovetail Box #14: "T Keys"

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Blog entry by Eric posted 04-28-2008 05:02 PM 1449 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 13: Feedback Requested Before Lid Glue-Up Part 14 of Dovetail Box series Part 15: Gluing Up the Lid »

When I asked for feedback on how to glue up the frame pieces for the lid to the box I’m working on, Luis had suggested that I not glue the miters, but rather chop little mortises in the miters and glue in some floating tenons. The only problem is that with the size of my miters, they would have to be very tiny mortises, and I just didn’t have it in me to do it. So here’s what I came up with: “T Keys”. I decided to run grooves down the length of the mortise, create the key slot, and then cut little t-shaped pieces (of the lighter-colored sapwood that I used for the inlay) which would fit right in. Follow me as I show you what I did (all pictures are clickable for full-size):

First, I put a connected miter joint in the vise and cut the outside lines of my groove and key (to match the thickness of my mini chisel). And yes, I know my pieces are banged up. They’ve been in the shop too long without being worked on, and have fallen once or twice. I’ll probably chamfer that out.

T Keys 2

Next, I put the pieces miter-up in the vise and, using the notches as my guide, I cut down the length of the miters (I didn’t measure how deep, but it was close to 1/4” I guess).

T Keys 3 T Keys 4

Enter my new allen chisel. I put the mini chisel bevel down and, using the bend in the wrench for leverage (worked nicely), I hogged out the wood in between the cuts.

T Keys 5

Next I figured out how wide I wanted my keys to be. I have no idea what the rule of thumb is, but my keys will extend about 1/2” each way from the corner. I then marked and cut down to a line from that point perpendicular to the miter – the depth of my keys. Following that, I hogged out the key slot with my chisel (using a mallet this time).

T Keys 6 T Keys 7

And that’s it! I now have t-shaped slots in all four corners. We’ll see how it actually comes together later.

T Keys 8

-- Eric at

5 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4013 days

#1 posted 04-28-2008 05:11 PM

Pretty inventive! Looking good so far.

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

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3847 days

#2 posted 04-28-2008 05:22 PM


Your resourcefulness never ceases to amaze me.

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

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 3840 days

#3 posted 04-28-2008 05:39 PM

I am bemazed! nice solution.

-- Scott - Chico California

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3793 days

#4 posted 04-28-2008 09:26 PM

wow thats a nice solution. thanks for sharing.

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3920 days

#5 posted 04-29-2008 03:37 AM

Pretty nifty Eric. Where there’s a will, there’s a way as they say.

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

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