Joints for corners of large box frames?

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Forum topic by luckysawdust posted 01-19-2013 02:30 AM 2915 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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32 posts in 2619 days

01-19-2013 02:30 AM

Topic tags/keywords: design game table question pine joining corner joint box frame

I’m in the process of finishing up a design for a gaming table for my brother-in-law, and would like some input on how to join the corners. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I don’t have any ‘sacred cows’ when it comes to techniques or methods, but I have very limited access to power tools. Everything I’ve done so far on the table has been with hand tools (planes, backsaw, chisels) – and would love to finish it by hand if possible.

Aside from that, here’s what I’ve got so far:

(Table top is 4X8 sheet of plywood, 3/4” thick)—to be used for “Warhammer 40,000” game

You can see, I haven’t quite decided on how to join the table top and trestles together—it is supposed to be easy to take it apart and store against a wall when necessary.

I’ve never done drawers, of any kind, before, so that is something I’ll be learning for this project (any tips, resources, or suggestions appreciated).

Given what you see, and what I have on hand, what are your impressions, and what joint(s) would you suggest for the corner of the table?

Thanks a bunch guys!

- Lucky

-- “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

6 replies so far

View runswithscissors's profile


2873 posts in 2200 days

#1 posted 01-19-2013 02:44 AM

I’d prefer dovetails to the box joints you show in your drawing, but the box joints work well too. Dovetails are not that hard to cut by hand, and require only the simplest tools—a fine-toothed saw, a sharp chisel, a mallet, and some decent measuring and marking tools. There are lots of videos on the web that show how to do them.

As for the break-apart trestle, a pegged through tenon works pretty well. Solid when you need it, but easy to knock apart. Again, there is lots of info on the web that shows these.

I’d say your design needs a stretcher running the long way between the horizontal pieces. This would be a logical joint to use pegged tenons on.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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Joe Lyddon

10299 posts in 4227 days

#2 posted 01-19-2013 05:20 AM

Looks like a nice table for your game…

The only thing I would suggest… are little pads at the ends of the leg pieces to get all of those flat surfaces OFF of the floor… and they would give better stability too.

I too like dovetails instead of box joints… but… it’s OK and strong.

Nice sketchup model!

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18380 posts in 3851 days

#3 posted 01-19-2013 06:51 AM

I think you will have beer luck with dovetail than box joints cutting by hand. I tried free hand box joints and to me dovetail were much easier to get tight.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View JAAune's profile


1846 posts in 2491 days

#4 posted 01-19-2013 07:01 AM

I agree on the dovetails for both the drawers and the table corners if you intend to do it by hand. They’re not hard to cut if you have sharp tools and good layout technique. The only downside to dovetails is that they take a far bit of time to do well unless you’re highly skilled. That however, is a moot issue since you don’t have any quick machine-cut options available anyway. Might as well invest the time needed for dovetails.

Box joints are usually used because they’re quick and easy to do with the right machine setup. Excepting Greene and Greene furniture, dovetails are usually superior in terms of strength and aesthetics.

-- See my work at and

View luckysawdust's profile


32 posts in 2619 days

#5 posted 01-19-2013 04:53 PM

Thank you guys! I’ve been leaning in the direction of dove-tail joints, for aesthetic reasons as well as joint strength.

I’ve never cut dovetails before – and I have a very inexpensive backsaw with which to cut them, so I’ll be doing some trial and error on spare stock before I attempt it on the frame for the table.

I was also thinking, that it might be nice to do larger pins and tails, given the scale of the table. I’m working with 1X6 pine on the sides—so would it be more appropriate to to smaller pins and tails? Either way?

Thank you, all of you, for your input, it is greatly appreciated!

- Lucky

-- “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10299 posts in 4227 days

#6 posted 01-20-2013 06:25 AM

Those dovetails look pretty good to me… COOL… Nice job!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

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