How to Make Box Joints With a Table Saw: #1 Definitive Guide

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Do you ever find yourself in the mood to build a project but don’t have the time or tools that you need to complete it?

Well we are going to teach you how to make box joints with a table saw.

To start off, this article will talk about what box joints are and why they’re useful. It will then go into detail of how to make them with a table saw.

How to Make Box Joints With a Table Saw Image
How to Make Box Joints With a Table Saw: #1 Definitive Guide

How to Make Box Joints With a Table Saw

Equipment Needed:

Materials Needed:

  • 3/4″ Plywood

Duration: 45-60 Minutes

Budget: $50-$100 (USD)


Step 1: Make the dado stack

Take your stack out and drill a 3/4-in. hole through every other piece. Then take one of these pieces and mark your cut lines at 13-15in.

Step 2: Cut the dadoes

After you’ve drilled your dadoes, take your table saw out and with the stock in position, line up your dado stack against it. Then adjust the dado stack so that it lines up evenly with what’s left from step one. Now grind them both down until they meet perfectly on top of each other and make sure that the part of the dado that doesn’t cut against the blade is not visible on either side of your stock.

Now you have to flip your stock over a couple times and then slowly feed the stock into the saw with your dado stack. Make sure that you keep an even pressure on the stock all of the way through the cut. Keep in mind that it’s very important to use a clean blade when making these cuts so that they are smooth. It will take time for your table saw to get these lines nice and straight but be patient it’ll pay off eventually!

Step 3: Attach a dado stack to your router

Take one long piece of scrap wood (about 3/4-in. thick) and drill two bigger holes in it about 2-3in apart for both sides of your router bit. Secure your router in a vise or clamp it down to a workbench.

Then take one of your small pieces from the dado stack and drill two corresponding holes for it to sit in on the opposite side of the larger piece.

Now place the piece from the dado stack in position and secure it with screws, washers, and nuts. Begin routing out your box joints!

Step 4: Glue up your box joints

Take all of your box joint pieces and start gluing them together sandwich style with your 3/4 plywood on all four sides sharing glue between each layer. Be sure to use a good quality glue!

When you’ve done that, take your table saw and make sure that your dado stack isn’t interfering with the blade. Now take your drill press and using some scrap wood clamp one side of the board up to it and then secure it in place.

Then take the other side of the board and clamp it in place inside of the other piece on top of it.

Now you can use a large flat file to go over this whole assembly until smooth so that all of your joints are perfect.

Step 5: Make your box joints

Once you’ve got all of your box joints done, take one in the middle and attach it to your big table that you made earlier.

Then take the other one in the middle and attach it to that side.

After that, you’re finished! The idea behind these joints is so that they don’t have any dead-space, which makes them much more stable and strong than a typical corner joint!

How to Make Box Joints With a Table Saw Video

Alternate Method 1:

–  Take some scrap wood and cut out four rectangles slightly larger than your dado stack on all four sides roughly 3/4-in. thick.  Then drill in a 3/4-in. hole for the router bit. 

–  Secure the router in place just like you would to make other dado cuts and spread some glue over the entire assembly.

Alternate Method 2:

–  Take square (flat) stock and cut it into 4 pieces that are slightly larger than your dado stack plus your 1/2 plywood deck for extra support on top of your table saw. Drill two holes in each piece about 3/4in apart on four sides (total of eight holes). Take one of these pieces and clamp it to your worktable with two pieces of scrap wood at each end. 

–  Spread some glue on your table saw table surface 1/2-in. or so away from the saw blade. 

–  Lay your square stock on top of the scrap wood and clamp it in place. 

–  Now feed the piece of plywood underneath into your table saw and feed it through until it’s flush with the other side. 

After all that, congratulations! You’ve now made the perfect box joint with your table saw.

Joint Comparisons:
Box Joint VS Finger Joints

Box Joint Vs Finger Joints Image
How to Make Box Joints With a Table Saw: #1 Definitive Guide

A box joint consists of two pieces of wood that are cut in a way that creates a rectangular shaped opening on one side and a smaller rectangular shaped opening on the other. The two pieces are glued together with the larger opening overlapping the smaller one, creating an interference fit. This type of joint is strong due to its rectangular shape which gives it increased strength. Furthermore, it consists of very little space between each piece which makes it more stable than typical corner joints.

A finger joint is created by cutting sloping or angled notches into one end of each board to create spaces where they will overlap when glue is applied. These types of joints are also known as miter joints because they consist of boards that have been cut at a 45-degree angle to connect them. This creates a rectangular shaped piece of wood that is very strong because of its rectangular shape. Finger joints have a large amount of dead space between each cut, which makes them more prone to breaking than box joints.

The bottom line is that box joints are stronger than finger joints and are much more stable when assembled. Furthermore, they provide much more strength in an application where two pieces of wood need to be held together or clamped tightly.

Box Joint VS Dovetail Joint

Box Joint Vs Dovetail Joint Image
How to Make Box Joints With a Table Saw: #1 Definitive Guide

The difference between a box joint and dovetail joint is that dovetails only have a horizontal front. Box joints can be put together in three different ways, including perpendicular, at an angle with two pieces parallel to each other, or at an angle with one piece parallel to the other.

It is important to note that different species of wood will have different strength characteristics, so don’t just go out and buy lumber that you think is strong. In addition, the type of glue that is used to assemble the joint can greatly affect its strength. Furthermore, using a clamp to hold the two pieces together can significantly reduce its strength. These are all things you should care about when deciding on what type of joint you want to use for your project. Feel free to check out our article on which wood species are best for box joints and dovetail joints.

Box Joint VS Butt Joint

Box Joint Vs Butt Joint Image
How to Make Box Joints With a Table Saw: #1 Definitive Guide

The difference is the amount of overlap that occurs in each type. In a butt joint, there is no overlap with the pieces sitting flush to each other and in a box joint, there is an interference fit and some level of disassembly which provides increased strength.

A butt joint will generally be stronger than a box joint, but the difference is marginal. Many types of wood can be used for a butt joint, but the glue joint can be weak and will have to be reinforced with screws to ensure that it doesn’t weaken after a while.

When deciding on which type of joint you want to use, consider how you plan on using the project in question and what strength characteristics are most important for this type of project. Many times we see people have projects where they either use butt joints or box joints as part of their design and then wonder why they don’t feel as strong as they thought.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a spacer block used for?

A spacer block is often used to ensure that an adhesive or joint will have the correct gap in between two boards. A spacer block can also be used to maintain the desired height of furniture with respect to a joist.

Do I need an indexing pin when making a box joint?

An indexing pin is not really necessary when making a box joint.

Should I use a miter gauge or a rip fence for a box joint?

You need a miter gauge for the most accurate measurements when making a box joint.

Where is a box joint used for?

Mostly it is used for decorative woodworking like decorative cabinets or decorative boxes.

Can I use box joints for a raised panel door?

Knowing how to make raised panel doors on a table saw is a necessary skill as a woodworker, and so is knowing how to make box joints. But no, you do not use box joints for a raised panel door, as it’s only a flat surface and needs no joining.

Why is a box joint more used than a rabbet joint?

Knowing how to make a rabbet rabbet joint with a table saw as a DIYer is a good skill to hone. However, most contractors and professionals choose a box joint over a rabbet joint because a box joint is stronger and lasts longer.

How to make Box Joints with a table saw
Final Thoughts

This ends our How To Guide of How to Make Box Joints With a Table Saw.

We hope the knowledge you gained here will help you in the future with your DIY or Professional Woodworking projects. We want you to be sure of that what you get from us are 100% facts, so please don’t hesitate to ask for advice or to advise us in return with accurate facts.

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