Interlocking Miter Joints

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Project by Don posted 12-25-2006 11:38 AM 9105 views 17 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This small box was quite a challenge. I believe the wood is Douglas Fir, or what is referred to as Oregon in Australia. The dark wood in the lid is Ebony. The complexity is all in the joints. The finish is pure Tung Oil.

For scale, the Aus 50 cent piece is similar in size to a US silver dollar.

CCA = Constructive Criticism Appreciated

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

14 comments so far

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4336 days

#1 posted 12-25-2006 12:57 PM

That’s a very interesting miter joint. What possesed you to make this joint? Strength, the look of the joint or the challenge?

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4324 days

#2 posted 12-25-2006 01:09 PM

An interesting looking joint. Do you use a router for this ? I don’t recall if I’ve ever seen a joint like this.
Do you have a diagram ?

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Gary's profile


1291 posts in 4349 days

#3 posted 12-25-2006 03:59 PM

That’s really nice; a cool design and interesting joinery.
Do the sides slide together like a half-lap bridle joint?

Merry Christmas,

-- Gary, Florida

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4199 days

#4 posted 12-25-2006 04:43 PM


I really like the creative thinking on the use of the interlocking miter joints – and the skill to pull them off with such exacting detail should be noted, as well!

I’m intrigued by your choice of woods. Douglas fir is pretty much on the extreme soft end of the Janka Hardness Table (coming just after most of the pines), while ebony is certianly on the opposite extreme. What criteria do you follow for wood selection? Is it strictly asthetic value? Or is it availability? Or maybe something else?

I find the ebony slightly distracting… I think there is too much competetion for attention between the lid and the joints of the box. After some thought, I don’t even think it is the wood selection (though in a larger piece, you might have some concerns with the wood movement of the douglas fir compared to the wood movement of the ebony). I think it is the way the ebony protrudes above the level of the lid. Maybe if it were more of an inlay, instead, that might turn the ebony into more of the accent I think you were trying to go for?

If you were to go that route, I would further suggest the lines of the inlay somehow mimic or enhance the lines of the box. For example, inlay a square in the lid, where the outer edges of the ebony inlay are lined up with what would be the inner edges of the box. Or expand the lid dimensions slightly and then make it so that the ebony inlay falls exactly on the sides of the box.

-- Ethan,

View Philip Edwards's profile

Philip Edwards

245 posts in 4464 days

#5 posted 12-25-2006 09:52 PM

Wow! Love the box!
Isn’t the joint of Japanese origin? How did you cut it?

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4202 days

#6 posted 12-25-2006 10:56 PM

Thanks guys. I’ve just posted a blog that should answer your question on this joint. It’s from an article I wrote about the subject for a club newsletter. If after reading that article, you still have questions, just ask and I’ll do my best to answer them.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4202 days

#7 posted 12-25-2006 11:09 PM

Ethan, I appreciate your observations.

In this case I choose the wood partly on what was available in my supply, and also for the aesthetics.

AS for the design, it’s not mine. It’s based on a Tony Lydgate design. He calls it the Castle Box, but I don’t like that name. I believe the primary design influence is the work of Green & Greene of the ‘arts and crafts’ movement. This style features exposed joinery and dark wood. Post and beam structures also feature prominently.

I take your point about the design, Ethan, but as I am not taking credit for the design, I’ll have to direct your criticisms to Lydgate.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4352 days

#8 posted 12-26-2006 06:27 AM

I like the design and I don’t mind the protrusions on the top, and I’ll bet Ethan might as well if the sides were also Quartersawn to match the top (perhaps the top could have been a bit larger, but I wouldn’t know unless I could compare). I think the plainsawn sides/qtr sawn top is distracting… The reverse would have probably worked, if not all qtr sawn though. so as to have fewer competing focal elements – (but don’t paint it) – Just my two cents.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4202 days

#9 posted 12-26-2006 06:49 AM

Scott, good comment, and I must take responsibility for this. I think you are correct in your observation.

I can’t recall now, but the way I cut the wood may have been a consequence of the available material. Although, I must confess this aspect of the design didn’t enter my mind. It’s something I will need to be conscious of in the future.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Shawn's profile


225 posts in 4178 days

#10 posted 01-11-2007 09:51 PM

you sir, are an ispiration

-- Cheers

View Shawn's profile


225 posts in 4178 days

#11 posted 01-11-2007 09:51 PM

you sir, are an inspiration

-- Cheers

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14173 posts in 4008 days

#12 posted 02-11-2008 02:07 AM

another interesting box. very well done.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3899 days

#13 posted 02-11-2008 12:31 PM

This is a great box. It really shows some precise woodworking skill. Thanks for posting it Don. (Gee, you’d think you like small wooden boxes)

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3610 days

#14 posted 10-23-2008 06:52 PM

Unusual very nice reminds me of some of the japanes joints wood joints that islol.well done thanks for sharing.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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