All Replies on dovetail box bottoms

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View bobasaurus's profile

dovetail box bottoms

by bobasaurus
posted 12-26-2012 09:10 PM

23 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3644 days

#1 posted 12-26-2012 09:16 PM

stopped dadoes

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View bobasaurus's profile


3444 posts in 3179 days

#2 posted 12-26-2012 09:17 PM

How do you go about making your stopped dados, PurpLev?

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View WillAdams's profile


81 posts in 1990 days

#3 posted 12-26-2012 09:26 PM

I drill holes at the beginning and ending points using a drill press, scribe along the outside edges they define, then chisel out the waste—- working w/ the grain it’s not too bad.

I did make a router plane for one set, but it’s too wide for most of the boxes I make and I haven’t found time to grind a narrower iron.

View bobasaurus's profile


3444 posts in 3179 days

#4 posted 12-26-2012 09:27 PM

That’s an interesting method, Will. I may have to give it a try… use a small chisel like a plane to hog out the area between the holes.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3644 days

#5 posted 12-26-2012 09:29 PM

I myself use router table and stops. the stops don’t necessarily have to be perfect as long as they mate with the adjacent part, and don’t protrude from the edge of the part (obviously as they are ‘stopped’ dadoes).

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View bobasaurus's profile


3444 posts in 3179 days

#6 posted 12-26-2012 09:34 PM

Good point about the stops, PurpLev. The thing that scares me is lowering the piece onto a moving bit initially, since I can’t plunge on the table like I can with the standalone base (as far as I know, at least).

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View WillAdams's profile


81 posts in 1990 days

#7 posted 12-27-2012 12:11 AM

I use a pair of chisels:

- a wide one—- drive it in by hand at an angle along each scored line
- a narrow chisel the width of the groove—- use it to remove material

alternate as necessary—- avoid the temptation to whack on the wide chisel w/ a mallet—- doing so too hard will split the board.

View Loren's profile (online now)


10380 posts in 3643 days

#8 posted 12-27-2012 12:24 AM

You can cut open grooves before you cut the
dovetails. Then, instead of a dovetail at the bottom,
you make a pair of little box joints just the thickness
of the material left over after the groove is cut. In
a box with 1/2” sides and a 1/4” deep x 1/4” wide
groove for the bottom set 1/4” up from the bottom,
you would cut a pair of little square 1/4” box
joints at each corner.

You can miter the corner too.

View RogerM's profile


792 posts in 2394 days

#9 posted 12-27-2012 12:30 AM

Stopped dadoes using the router table (1/4” or 1/8” bit)

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2680 days

#10 posted 12-27-2012 12:53 AM

I get scared dropping anything onto a moving cutter. so I opt for overhand plunge router with a fence attachment to make “stopped” dados. or plan the dovetail pins/tails so that a straight dado will not be seen.

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2281 days

#11 posted 12-27-2012 01:03 AM

Dry fit the sides and then hand route using a slot cutting bit:,46168,69435,46176&ap=1

-- John, BC, Canada

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2685 days

#12 posted 12-27-2012 03:28 AM

I use stopped dados on the router table for all my box jointed boxes. Stop blocks mount on my fence. Route your dados 1/8” deep on the first pass, then deepen to final depth with 1 or 2 more passes. Much more controllable when dropping the workpiece down onto the bit with a shallow cut. I tried the drill holes at either end of the cut and I never got the cut lined up perfectly with the drill holes. Worked but it bugged me. A spiral bit also seems more controllable that a straight bit in my hands.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View bobasaurus's profile


3444 posts in 3179 days

#13 posted 12-27-2012 03:40 AM

John, the slot cutter on a dry fit is a nice idea, I might try it out.

gfadvm, a spiral bit would probably help the process quite a bit. I have a cheap set of MLCS carbide non-spiral bits that work okay, though I’ve somehow managed to snap the 1/4” straight bit in half when shallowly routing through pine. Is it a downspiral bit for the table-mounted slot routing, or an upspiral? I always get them confused.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2685 days

#14 posted 12-27-2012 04:07 AM

Bob, I have some up and some down and I use them interchangably. The price scared me off these for a long time but mine are Grizzly’s and I’m happy with them (and I do a lot of tough woods)

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 2423 days

#15 posted 12-27-2012 04:44 AM

Or you could use your buscuit joiner and cut a series of adjoining cuts and finish the ends with a chisel.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View BerBer5985's profile


445 posts in 2416 days

#16 posted 12-27-2012 05:01 AM

I’m going to attempt half blind dovetails on my next box project just to avoid that problem. I have the used the box slotting bit before from Lee Valley and that worked pretty well, but I’d love to find a hand tool method that works wells. Drilling the two ends to depth and then using a chisel/router plane seems like a decent way to do it. I saw an article about it with pictures but I can’t remember the link. Depending on the size of the box, you could just go paul sellers way and just glue the bottom on. He seems to think that on smaller boxes, there isn’t enough wood movement to pose a problem. I’ve done that a couple boxes and seemed to work just fine although I like the idea of a floating panel in there better.

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

View pintodeluxe's profile


5654 posts in 2809 days

#17 posted 12-27-2012 05:33 AM

Stopped dados aren’t so bad. Or you could use HB dovetails, where a full length groove will be hidden by the tail.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3032 days

#18 posted 12-27-2012 06:01 PM

Stopped dados. Use a 3 mm bit and end stops on the fence of the router table. These can be as simple as two blocks of wood double-sided taped to the fence. Not difficult to set up or use.

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

View Gumnut's profile


95 posts in 2153 days

#19 posted 12-28-2012 02:20 PM

Hi just thought I would put my two cents worth in here, I use a router table to cut the rebate out for the base and I use two magnets on the cat iron router table to give me generalised stop points. If you have a non-metal table top then simple stops are worth the effort to make because you will use them for so many other projects.

So with the general rebate cut in place I then glue up the box (once the finish has been applied on the inside) and after it has dried you need to attend to the daggy corner bits so the bottom can neatly be glued into place.
Here I use a tool that has been developed by Andrew Crawford
It uses a corner chisel to accurately cut a corner for inlay but it works perfectly for this job as well.
Lee Valley sell it for $79,41504,41541&ap=1
I being a bit of a cheap skate made my own with some clear Perspex and stainless steel strips from the backing of windscreen wiper inserts, Oh and the Lee Valley corner chisel for $39.50.
The corner chisel cuts a very neat 90deg corner and the waste is removed with a small chisel.

One thing to remember is that if you do not have a square box the best way to size up the base is to use a shooting board and plane to finely match the panel into place.
Hope this helps.

-- Peter, member of the Fine Woodwork Association

View bondogaposis's profile


4723 posts in 2347 days

#20 posted 12-28-2012 03:52 PM

Another way to solve this problem if the box is a light duty type of box such as jewelry, etc. is to fore-go the dado altogether and cut a rabbet into the bottom of the box after it is assembled. I like to use a rabbet cutter bit on the router table for that. I just square up the corners w/ chisel and glue in the bottom flush w/ the box. This is similar to the rabbet set that I have. Expensive but I use it all of the time.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View bobasaurus's profile


3444 posts in 3179 days

#21 posted 12-28-2012 05:21 PM

I have one of those rabbeting bits, Bondo. Works pretty well, though burning and chip-out sometimes happen. I like the idea of a slot-cutting pattern bit to make the dados on a dry-fit box… I might have to pick up a couple of them.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3154 days

#22 posted 12-28-2012 05:44 PM

You have to be careful with a stopped groove on the router table if the groove is close to a delicate finger or dovetail. Drilling the groove ends is a good idea there. Typically, the router table is the way I do it. Oftentimes, those will be cut before the dovetails.

However, my last box I actually used my 8” dado blade in my TS to make those stopped cuts. I just used tape on the table to judge how far to push the piece through and where to drop it onto the blade. Because its an 8” blade, there is only about 3/4” to clean up with a chisel…which is faster and easier than you think, especially if you predrill the stops first.

-- jay,

View degoose's profile


7233 posts in 3350 days

#23 posted 05-21-2015 09:59 AM

Dry fit and clamp then use a slot cutter… in a router table….

Round off the corners of the base… also works a treat for the top of a box…cut coves on the top of the insert…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

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