Need help deciding on tools for box making

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Forum topic by NewDog posted 1065 days ago 604 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 1082 days

1065 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: wooden box making hand tools power tools question scroll saw planer miter saw router plane sander arts and crafts

I am planning to make several wooden boxes for gifts. I currently own a small router, a cheap stanley plane, and an orbital sander. I am debating if I should buy a circular saw (I really don’t want a table saw), a small, portable planer, and a disc sander. Or should I go with a low angle block plane and a face plane? I would appreciate any advice anyone could give.

8 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

14606 posts in 1164 days

#1 posted 1065 days ago

why do you not want a table saw. For making boxes, I would think that would be a #1 priority.

You mention a planer. Do you need to re-size the wood thickness? Are you using rough sawn lumber?
Planes are always good, but how did you plane to use them for box making?
How big are the boxes? I would think a circular saw would only be helpful if they are bigger in size. For small boxes, if you don’t want a table saw, buy a good miter box.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2199 posts in 1755 days

#2 posted 1065 days ago

The problem with boxes is that they are never simple, despite what you think. It’s a true test of a craftsman’s skills. They require precision, especially where their joinery is concerned. Flaws are too easy to see on a box. A table saw gives the repeatability you will need to make your boards the right size…and nothing else really works for that repeatability. Plus, it allows you to build a jig to do box joints…or to do beveled/mitered joints. Heck, you could cut splines as well.

I hate to say it, but of all the tools you mentioned, not many of them will be useful for you in box making. A stationary belt sander is better than a disk or random orbital sander. A planer or hand planes is only useful for customizing the box dimensions/stock thickness (kinda optional), and a router isn’t much use unless it’s in a table or is used with a dovetailing jig.

I’m with Don on this one…you could built an entire box with ONLY a table saw.

Your local Rockler and Woodcraft stores have lots short/thin stock of nice and/or exotic woods than would make quick work out of things. You might have to plane some boards down to match (see eBay for an old No. 5 jackplane), but otherwise it will give you some readymade options without doing a whole lot of thicknessing work.

-- jay,

View gfadvm's profile


10538 posts in 1287 days

#3 posted 1065 days ago

Get a table saw! You can make all your cuts, box joints, miter joints, etc with it and a few shop made sleds. All of my early projects were done with an inexpensive table saw and a random orbital sander.

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

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2199 posts in 1755 days

#4 posted 1065 days ago

I should say that you could certainly make a box with a fine selection of handsaws. There are other alternatives to a table saw, but they really require some skills.

Now, with a band saw, you could make “boxes.” Just search “bandsaw boxes” here at LJs to see what I mean.

-- jay,

View ShaneA's profile


5245 posts in 1195 days

#5 posted 1065 days ago

Table saw will be needed, plus it will allow for other projects from all types of woodworking to home improvements as well. I think a table saw is the most important and versatile tool to a vast amount of woodworkers. Good luck.

View NewDog's profile


10 posts in 1082 days

#6 posted 1065 days ago

Ok, any suggestions for a good quality starter table saw?

View rustynails's profile


444 posts in 1126 days

#7 posted 1065 days ago

The best place is look on Craigs list ….

View ShaneA's profile


5245 posts in 1195 days

#8 posted 1065 days ago

Are you limited by space? If you have the room a used contractor style saw with an induction motor. Ridgid, jet, powermatic or delta would be worth considering. Should be able to pick something up serviceable for less than $300 including a decent blade, which can make a huge difference.

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