Twisted Dovetail - Mystery Box

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Project by Druid posted 01-21-2011 06:23 PM 14443 views 29 times favorited 46 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My “Mystery Box” is a result of too much pondering on a unique twisted dovetail joint that I had seen many years ago. I finally decided to try to duplicate the joint with a couple of variations on the test pieces as shown. When I showed the tests to some fellow carvers, the typical comment was “it’s not possible to assemble”, and of course I would smile and agree. The next step was to work on creating a 6 sided box with all of the sides interlocked using the same joint for a total of 12 “impossible” (according to my friends) sets of dovetails. I used mahogany and basswood for higher visual contrast to show the dovetails more clearly. Just to add a bit more interest, the 6 sides of the box were not cut and reglued, there are no hidden kerfs, and there was no warping or bending involved in the assembly. There are only 6 pieces and they are all solid . . . honest!!!
It’s really a lot of fun to watch people’s faces whenever they have the box in their hands and they try to figure out how it was done.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

46 comments so far

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 3261 days

#1 posted 01-21-2011 06:41 PM

well i have a pretty good understanding of how twisted dovetails are made but i cant figure out how you did them on all sides.

my guess is there was some some cutting and reglueing done

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3109 days

#2 posted 01-21-2011 06:57 PM

I have seen this earlyer last year :-)
and you are pretty good to set up the maschinery accurat
well done

now we only need the reveal of making/asamble a cube :-)

thank´s for sharing it

View JHawkFan's profile


24 posts in 2685 days

#3 posted 01-21-2011 07:03 PM

That is really great idea and good teaching aid. I’m very impressed with it. Good job.

-- Matt Speer , ‎"Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential." - Winston Churchill

View Wilt191's profile


98 posts in 2685 days

#4 posted 01-21-2011 07:30 PM

Awesome. Really cool thought and execution.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4212 days

#5 posted 01-21-2011 08:04 PM

Very cool!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Druid's profile


1753 posts in 2789 days

#6 posted 01-21-2011 08:05 PM

Hi Mike, and thanks for the comments. I have updated the description regarding cutting and reglueing the parts. If I was seeing this box for the first time, I would have made the same comment. Keep smilin’ and don’t lose any sleep over it.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 3261 days

#7 posted 01-21-2011 09:22 PM

ha well you got me. id love to know how you did it. maybe a future blog how to?

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3280 days

#8 posted 01-21-2011 09:54 PM

I vote for a blog



View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3030 days

#9 posted 01-21-2011 09:59 PM

I like ‘Impossible’. Well done, John. I feel quite challenged. Its very invigourating.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View bibb's profile


327 posts in 3525 days

#10 posted 01-21-2011 10:28 PM

Please enlighten us with a detailed blog. This is too cool

-- you may only live once, but if you do it right that's all you need

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4155 days

#11 posted 01-21-2011 11:04 PM

and I hope this is going into our Joinery Awards event!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2877 days

#12 posted 01-21-2011 11:11 PM

awesome, my brain is bleeding trying to figure this out!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Druid's profile


1753 posts in 2789 days

#13 posted 01-21-2011 11:20 PM

Hi Debbie, Yes it is already entered in the Joinery Awards. All votes will be appreciated. I’m surprised at the responses that I’m receiving!

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 2874 days

#14 posted 01-22-2011 01:02 AM

That is definitely unique…but what does it do? ;-)

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3282 days

#15 posted 01-22-2011 01:16 AM

very nice work indeed, Blog Blog Blog.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

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