finger joint boxes

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Project by LarryB posted 992 days ago 3366 views 8 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


562 posts in 2694 days

#1 posted 992 days ago

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


1285 posts in 1320 days

#2 posted 992 days ago

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


54 posts in 1260 days

#3 posted 992 days ago

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 2188 days

#4 posted 992 days ago

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

11315 posts in 1737 days

#5 posted 991 days ago

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


187 posts in 1692 days

#6 posted 991 days ago

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


327 posts in 1613 days

#7 posted 991 days ago

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


4358 posts in 1668 days

#8 posted 991 days ago

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


131 posts in 1241 days

#9 posted 991 days ago

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


11644 posts in 2319 days

#10 posted 991 days ago

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


60 posts in 1032 days

#11 posted 991 days ago

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


1397 posts in 2096 days

#12 posted 991 days ago

how did you carve out those little pulls?

View Dusty56's profile


11644 posts in 2319 days

#13 posted 991 days ago

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


54 posts in 1260 days

#14 posted 991 days ago

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


390 posts in 1019 days

#15 posted 991 days ago

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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