Where are the seams!?

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Forum topic by Chris Speights posted 11-14-2014 02:04 AM 1643 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Chris Speights

129 posts in 2384 days

11-14-2014 02:04 AM

I have been asked to make a box for an antique pistol. The gentleman has pointed me in the direction of the box he wants. Apparently collectors of these old firearms are very specific…

My question is, when I look at the example he has sent me, I can’t see any seems on the top. What am I missing? It nearly looks like it’s one sold piece of wood, but from the inside of the box, the corners look mitered…

Any thoughts?

19 replies so far

View hairy's profile


2720 posts in 3559 days

#1 posted 11-14-2014 02:08 AM

One way to make it is to make a solid box, then cut off the top section.

-- My reality check bounced...

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Chris Speights

129 posts in 2384 days

#2 posted 11-14-2014 02:26 AM

Thanks Hairy. That was my plan all along…but there would still have to a seam somewhere when you attach the top, right? Again, maybe I am missing something…

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 1916 days

#3 posted 11-14-2014 02:44 AM

Not necessarily Chris. Providing the top/bottom are cut from one box, and the mating edges are perfectly true and stable.

View stan3443's profile


301 posts in 2302 days

#4 posted 11-14-2014 02:54 AM

looks like the top is mitered to all four sides

-- If your not supposed to have hair on your face......why does it grow their

View waho6o9's profile


8207 posts in 2604 days

#5 posted 11-14-2014 03:23 AM

The only time I get a seamless joint like that is with a real
sharp edge plane.

That box is well made and I bet with a lot of the work done
with hand tools.

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4037 posts in 2261 days

#6 posted 11-14-2014 03:27 AM

Here’s $0.02 worth.
Consider this: the box body is four pieces mitered at the corners. The top and bottom are rabbeted to closely fit the inside (looks like the top liner is wrapped into the rabbet to make a snug, clean fit) then, on the outside rounded over carefully so the round over stops right at the joint (where the lip overhangs the sides), making it nearly invisible at a glance. Once assembled the lid is “ripped” off using a table saw to cut all four sides. The bottom is fitted with a nice beaded insert proud of the sides to make a dust tight fit with the lid, and the dividers, fitted, covered with felt, and placed on a felt covered bottom. It might be flocked, but it doesn’t look like it in this picture. The top panel is clearly not one piece, but nicely laminated.
Decades from now, one will be able to see the results of miniscule wood movement of the top, but it won’t be destructive.
Nice box.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

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Chris Speights

129 posts in 2384 days

#7 posted 11-14-2014 03:34 AM

All great points. Well, I am going to dive in and see what I come up with. I will post something when done! RhAnk you all for your input.

View Al Amantea's profile

Al Amantea

39 posts in 1522 days

#8 posted 11-14-2014 08:33 AM

It would appear to me from the photo that the top of that box is a lamination of three boards. If you look at the grain patterns, you can see the joint lines running left to right in the orientation of the photo. It also appears to me that the joint between the top and the box lid sides is somewhat hidden by the roundover on the corners. If you look very closely at the front of the box, the bottom edge of the roundover shows a joint line.

This box appears to be constructed by four sides like normal, mitered on the edges, and a laminated panel for the top and bottom (most likely) made of 3 boards (approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick). The glue joint between the top and the sides was hidden by the roundover, and the top was simply glued to the box sides with no regard for wood movement.

This type of box construction was quite prominent back in the days of old. Truly, a box construction of sides at 1/2”, and a top and bottom of 1/4”, finished and sealed properly inside and out, won’t really have enough movement strength to cause a noticeable difference. At that thickness, your movement would be very slight, if at all.

I have created several reproduction boxes made this way at a client’s request, and have not had a failure of one to this date (some are over 10 years old). Also keep in mind it’s intended use, and storage locations…

There are even quite a few cigar humidors manufactured this way to mimic antique humidors. Even in those cases (no pun intended) your movement is negligible. (The moisture inside is kept constant, and absorbed mostly by the spanish cedar lining anyway)

When searching for joint lines like this, it helps to try and focus on the forest, and not the trees. watch for grain changes, color shifts, and things of that sort.

Al Amantea
Amantea Fine Woodworks

-- Measure Twice, then cut it again...

View REO's profile


928 posts in 2101 days

#9 posted 11-14-2014 11:25 AM

I think stan343 hit it.

View bondogaposis's profile


4767 posts in 2378 days

#10 posted 11-14-2014 01:38 PM

Dan Krager has it. The roundovers conceal the top to lip joint.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Chris Speights's profile

Chris Speights

129 posts in 2384 days

#11 posted 11-14-2014 02:52 PM

Great input, thank you all very much. Now I feel armed with the right knowledge to give it a try. Will keep you all posted.

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2529 days

#12 posted 11-15-2014 10:20 AM

I’m also with Stan343 – mitre joints all the way around all four edges of all components (top, bottom, front, back and sides). I made a backgammon board that way about 25 years ago. My corners are not as rounded, but you have to look really hard to find the joint line between top and front / back.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 1363 days

#13 posted 11-15-2014 03:50 PM

I agree with Stan and Dan. The top lid lamination looks to be solid wood that was rabetted on all sides to fit over the mitre jointed frame of the lid. Then the round over makes it look seamless. As suggested if you then build the frame and then cut off the lid frame it will then look like an optical illusion hollowed out box as the grain on the sides of the main box and lid frame will match. Another reasonable approach would be to rabbet the mitred frame of the lid and the top lamination fitted to the rabetted cavity. However, the lid frame would be visible and the top would look like an insert. You can get very beautiful results with contrasting wood this way. Now I’m babbling so I apologize.

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View Al Amantea's profile

Al Amantea

39 posts in 1522 days

#14 posted 11-15-2014 04:12 PM

I was not saying that anything was rabbetted at all. My thoughts are that the lid and bttom are simply butt jointed to the sides of the box with a glue joint only. I have seen many boxes made in this fashion. The round over then hides the seam between the top and the sides.
I Apologize if I was unclear in my previous post.

-- Measure Twice, then cut it again...

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 1363 days

#15 posted 11-15-2014 05:08 PM

Hi Al, your approach is what I’m going to use for my humidor build lid. As I understand it a reasonably thin top is glued to the frame and then rounding over to blend in the glue line and the end grain?

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

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