finger joint boxes

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Project by LarryB posted 12-09-2011 10:20 PM 9683 views 9 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
finger joint boxes
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I’d like your thoughts and suggestions.
I’ve just completed 5 cedar and 3 oak sliding lid, finger joint boxes as Christmas gifts for the grandkids.
My dilemma is whether to leave them unfinished or not. They are sanded to a very smooth surface and I like the aromatic cedar. But knowing the kids (aged 5 to 16) will be handling them for many years to come, maybe a protective finish of some kind is in order.
Tell me what you might do and what you might use as a finish.
Thanks for the input! Larry

19 comments so far

View drbyte's profile


665 posts in 3152 days

#1 posted 12-09-2011 10:49 PM

Great looking boxes! Danish oil will let the cedar smell through as it is not a solid surface finish and can be rejuvenated easily for years to come!.

-- Dennis, WV

View MasterSergeant's profile


1324 posts in 1778 days

#2 posted 12-09-2011 10:56 PM

I agree Danish oil would suit this project well.
I’m just now building my box joint jig in the shop. I am looking forward to making boxes like you have here.

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View LarryB's profile


69 posts in 1718 days

#3 posted 12-10-2011 12:45 AM

Kelly, it took me four tries before I got the jig & “key” set up correctly. I almost gave up on it. It has to be precise! I got plans off Woodsmith ( Good luck & have fun with it!

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 2646 days

#4 posted 12-10-2011 01:11 AM

Try Antique Improver, you’ll love the finish. It’s a little expensive, but easy to put on and it really makes the grain pop; plus the piece will darken a bit over time.

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

14408 posts in 2195 days

#5 posted 12-10-2011 05:47 AM

Nice boxes. I would clear coat them with something- maybe lacquer to protect the surface…Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View rmac's profile


198 posts in 2150 days

#6 posted 12-10-2011 08:23 AM

Another vote for a clear finish of some kind. Otherwise they will surely get grubby over time.


-- My table saw laughs at hot dogs.

View Popsnsons's profile


350 posts in 2071 days

#7 posted 12-10-2011 08:31 AM

Polyurethane would show the grain on both the cedar and the oak nicely. And would provide a protective finish. I usually don’t apply any finish to the inside of the cedar boxes. You do want to finish the outside of them both. Otherwise oily finger prints will cause a blotchy look that will take away from the craftsmanship of the boxes.

-- Pops ~ In So Cal...

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4586 posts in 2126 days

#8 posted 12-10-2011 01:11 PM

Protective finish outside (of your choice), inside left unfinished for aromatic enjoyment. Wonderful how the smell seems to concentrate inside a closed Cedar box.

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

View americancanuck's profile


206 posts in 1699 days

#9 posted 12-10-2011 02:28 PM

very nice job on the boxes. I’m sure the kids will love them. I recently made 6 of these as gifts, also. They were so popular I got orders for 10 more. I finished mine with water based poly satin finish.

View Dusty56's profile


11781 posts in 2778 days

#10 posted 12-10-2011 03:38 PM

How about a simple wax finish ?
I like to use Goddard’s Cabinet Makers Wax on many of my small projects. It was suggested to me by Tommy at my local WoodCraft store several years ago , and I’ve been using it ever since : ) It has a pleasant aroma , goes on nicely , and leaves a beautiful finish while enhancing the grain patterns. As an added bonus , you could finish the boxes with the kids : ) How much joy would that bring to you and yours ! : )
Happy Holidays !

EDIT : Link to NEW Importer of the paste wax that I use, NOT the spray polish.

”The paste wax (a beautiful mixture of beeswax & carnauba)was discontinued in America. My Father and I used other waxes from time to time but there is nothing that compares to this paste wax. It applies so easily, doesn’t fingerprint, and smells of lemon verbena. If you have used it you would know, and if you havn’t get some. Please understand its the paste wax that I am referring to and not the other Goddards polishes.”

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View mondak's profile


69 posts in 1490 days

#11 posted 12-10-2011 03:59 PM

We, the woodworkers club, built 15 of those boxes about a year ago. Assuming that yours are on your table saw, ours were alomost the same size as yours.
Our club was asked if we could make “memory boxes” for the hospital to place baby items in… be given to mothers that loose their babies, stil borne, premature or however the unfortunate death occures.

View AaronK's profile


1418 posts in 2554 days

#12 posted 12-10-2011 04:09 PM

how did you carve out those little pulls?

View Dusty56's profile


11781 posts in 2778 days

#13 posted 12-10-2011 04:26 PM

AaronK It’s a WoodSmith Shop project…enjoy the pdf : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View LarryB's profile


69 posts in 1718 days

#14 posted 12-10-2011 08:23 PM

AAron & Dusty,
It takes some finagling at the drill press to create the finger groove. Woodsmith says 8º angle but my lids wouldn’t let the chuck all the way down to make the cut with a forrester bit. Experimenting with angles and lid placement let me barely bypass the lid at 15º. Watch carefully that you stop boring before breaking through the 1/4” thickness.
Once I had an improvised jig clamped to the press, the rest were easy.

View nonickswood's profile


502 posts in 1477 days

#15 posted 12-10-2011 10:45 PM

I always thought it stabilizes the wood, to do the the same to each side of a piece of wood otherwise you might experience some warping especially in top panel.
I think maybe Danish Wood oil all over, then possibly Wipe on Poly on outside.

Beautiful WORK!!

-- Nick, Virginia,

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