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Forum topic by Russel posted 06-27-2009 04:51 PM 1743 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2199 posts in 3936 days

06-27-2009 04:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: box building box bottom technique

I have found that when I’m in the mood to build something but nothing in particular strikes my fancy I generally turn to making a box. More often than not, they’re pretty straightforward, but sometimes I look to try something different.

As a result, I have a bunch of boxes with nowhere to go. I’ve found that you can only give so many to family members before they start saying, “Oh thank you, ANOTHER box.” So I need to find a home for these little fellas.

My question came up as I was moving them “somewhere else” and started looking at the bottoms. I noticed that I’ve used a variety of methods for attaching them. I’ve used at least four different methods.

1. Simply glued the bottom to the box; typically leaving a reveal that I’ve rounded over.

2. Cut the bottom to to fit snugly inside the box and sand the bottom flush.

3. Cut a rabbet that the bottom fits into. (Which is similar to #2 but takes more time.)

4. Cut a dado to hold the bottom.

The main question for the box builders is, “What is the preferred method?”

A secondary question has to do the material for the bottom. I generally use the same material as box, but I’ve seen both plywood and secondary woods as the bottom.

So, again, “What is the perferred method?”

I’m quite curious how you folks make these seemingly simple decisions.

-- Working at Woodworking

17 replies so far

View Kjuly's profile


308 posts in 3282 days

#1 posted 06-27-2009 05:10 PM

I prefer to use the dado for the bottom of my boxes as this allows the bottom to float. I always use a high quality birch veneer plywood for the bottoms. When it is a high end cabinet, I will apply a matching veneer on the drawer bottoms. I avoid using solid wood for the bottoms because of the possibility of expansion that could cause damage to the sides of the box.


-- Keith, Charlotte, MI

View Rustic's profile


3253 posts in 3593 days

#2 posted 06-27-2009 05:32 PM

Hey Russel,

if you need a place to get rid of them send them to me and I can sell them for you. I will even send the money to you. :-)

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4215 days

#3 posted 06-27-2009 09:13 PM

Russel, I have the same problem. I have boxes multiplying like rabbits all over my shop.

I don’t know if there is a preferred method for bottoms or not. I think we get to choose what WE prefer. :-)

I generally use either #1 or #2 from your list, depending on the look I’m going for. And I usually use the same material as the rest of the box. If The top is a contrasting wood from the sides, I’ll normally use that same wood for the bottom.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10097 posts in 4049 days

#4 posted 06-27-2009 11:45 PM

The answer is simple…

Whatever bottom strikes your fancy at the time. :)

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

View BTKS's profile


1986 posts in 3461 days

#5 posted 06-28-2009 09:46 AM

The greatest thing about Do It Yourself is deciding what you want to do and doing it. Don’t know how many times I’ve been asked about woodworking and carpentry projects, Why did you do it that way? The answer is usually, “because that’s the way I wanted it.” Whatever works for you is the preferred method. My personal favorite is #4. Just because of expansion / contraction and concealed edges, but hey, that’s me. Best of luck, BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3338 days

#6 posted 06-28-2009 11:01 AM

me , i generaly go with # 3 ,
i rabbet everything .
since i usualy make my boxes with continuos designs around the box .
i plane / sand all parts to same thikness , and rabbet the sides for the ends ,
and top and bottom .
this way my designs ” flow ” around the corners .
the rabbet gives me a positive stop , and extended glue surface .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View lou's profile


343 posts in 3439 days

#7 posted 06-28-2009 02:39 PM

i like the dado.its captured,it adds rigidety,depends on the design and the size of the box also.everybody has a favorite.its really up to you.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4215 days

#8 posted 06-28-2009 03:28 PM

Russell, I hope you now know what the “preferred” method is. LOL!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3936 days

#9 posted 06-28-2009 04:32 PM

Well guys, I’m a bit surprised. I really expected to hear that there was a “preferred” method. With the number of folks building boxes here as well as the books published about box building, I was braced for some rather strong opinions. This was certainly not my assumed response.

Now I have to say that the “do what you like” perspective is a little disconcerting. I know me pretty well, and I’m not to be trusted. After all, there are a lot more ways to get things wrong than to get things right.

-- Working at Woodworking

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3338 days

#10 posted 06-28-2009 04:41 PM

it really isn’t about the ” perfect way ”,
its about the learning !
go in any direction you like ,
and there are many new chalenges .
some times you get to find a perfect one ,
then move on to something new ,
make some mistakes or not ,
and learn something new .
enjoy the trip to paris ,
you may not even like it when you get there !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View James's profile


162 posts in 3278 days

#11 posted 06-28-2009 04:52 PM

Personally I like the dado, since the bottom is able to float, and it helps during glue up to have it in theresecure to help square everything up. Also, it gives a more stable footprint so the box doesnt wobble when sitting on a flat surface.

If you happen to live in a town or city, have a garage sale. You would be amazed the money you can make. People love boxes, especially ones that have a texture that screams “PICK ME UP!”

-- James, Bluffton, IN

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10097 posts in 4049 days

#12 posted 06-28-2009 06:01 PM


Perhaps you need a few ideas… or inspiration… ?

Maybe this link will help you… scroll DOWN to the section on Boxes:


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

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3587 days

#13 posted 06-28-2009 06:10 PM

If the bottom is hardwood cut in a dado and have it be a floating bottom to allow for movement. If it’s a stable bottom like mdf or the like do it however you want. In my opinion there’s a preferred way, and that is the dado method. But the rabbit method works well too if you don’t have to worry about wood movement.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View Bigdogs117's profile


1864 posts in 3618 days

#14 posted 06-29-2009 01:35 AM

I prefer the dado method and I tend to use birch plywood for bottoms. It depends on what I’m building as to what I do. Just my 2 cents.

-- Rusty

View bobdobbs's profile


8 posts in 3251 days

#15 posted 06-29-2009 05:41 AM

hello, Russel. I’m new here and a novice at best. A little history to explain my thoughts. I have a 2 story, 2 bedroom townhouse with a 2 car garage. in that garage is the wifes car and my motorcycle as well as years of clutter and stuff thatcan’t be put in storage for various reasons (wife says so). In january, I re-built our linen closet and built shaker style (I think. Did I mention I’m new?) doors and got the bug. The next step was building a workshop in my limited space (I claimed one wall of the garage). Patron’s response is what I ended up doing as I built bench, benchtop saw cart, etc…I have three seperate types of drawer slides (2 with different types of metal slides, the drawers for the bench have oak slides and dadoed drawers) I also dadoed the bottoms of the bench drawers wheras the others were pin nailed and glued to the sides. This was my excercise in figuring out what works best (for me, the full extension, side mount seems to be best) and learning how to use the different methods, that I mentioned. except for the “test” cart, I can still look at them and feel proud and know that I learned some stuff too. I’m chiming in for the “you might as well expand your abilities” way of doing it. I think you should try locking miters all around the next one…then tell me the easiest way to set the little bugger of a bit up the same way twice! ;)

-- If I had some ham, I could make some ham and eggs...if I had some eggs.

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