Box making question

ScottM

Scott
Staff member
Corporate Member
Friends asked me to make an urn for their cat's ashes. Prepared the stock no problem. Mitered the sides no problem. Cut daddo for top and bottom no problem. Glue up was great. Cut the top off using my miter gauge on the table saw did not come out as nice as I would have liked. Sanding fixed most of it but I would have preferred doing better. For the future would l have been better on the band saw or do I need a jig for the table saw? Open to all suggestions.
 

dino drosas

Dino
Corporate Member
I have built many boxes and always use the band saw to cut the tops, I should mention that I have a large band saw with a wide carbide tipped blade under ver high tension. I never tried this with the small saw and a thin blade.
 

Matt Furjanic

Matt
Senior User
Have done both bandsaw and tablesaw. Table saw is a bit tricky. My best results with the tablesaw is to not saw all the way thru the sides. If the wood is 3/4“ thick, set the blade to cut only about 11/32” deep, then finish the cut using a Japanese pull saw or a utility knife. I do prefer using a band saw, but this is not possible if the box is bigger than the saw throat. If using a band saw, the blade should be new or very near new.
 

Graywolf

Board of Directors, Vice President
Richard
Corporate Member
I have tried both ways, and now I’m unplugged so I use a marking gauge and a handsaw for the process. It works very well.
 

Charles Lent

Charley
Corporate Member
I make a lot of boxes, and I always cut the lids free on my table saw using the table saw fence to guide the box, keeping a little pressure to hold the box tightly to the fence as I feed it into the blade. I set the blade just high enough to cut through the thickness of the box material and cut opposite sides first, then I insert kerf spacers into these two kerfs using a little blue tape to hold them in place. The spacers are to keep the top and bottom the exact same distance apart as you make the cuts on the remaining two sides and must be the same thickness as your blade. Once the spacers are installed, make the two remaining cuts. You should have little to no sanding necessary. If it does need sanding, place a couple of sheets of 150 grit sandpaper with glue on their back sides to a flat board and then attach it to your workbench (with a couple of flat head screws). Then place the box or top with the cut edge facing down on the sandpaper and move it around in a figure 8 motion, keeping the downward pressure as evenly distributed as possible (I usually place a weight on top for the downward pressure, then I just move the box around). This should flatten the edges perfectly with very little chance of a problem.

Charley
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
Cut the top off using my miter gauge on the table saw did not come out as nice as I would have liked. Sanding fixed most of it but I would have preferred doing better.
Pictures will help to see what's not so nice about it. It's fairly easy on the table saw using the fence instead of the miter gauge.

 

patlaw

Mike
Corporate Member
Pictures will help to see what's not so nice about it. It's fairly easy on the table saw using the fence instead of the miter gauge.

I wonder if the reason he doesn't cut all the way through is to prevent the spacing problem that Charley solves with spacers. Both procedures make sense.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
I wonder if the reason he doesn't cut all the way through is to prevent the spacing problem that Charley solves with spacers. Both procedures make sense.
The author says that he doesn't cut all the way through the box because he doesn't want to cut spacers to fit in the saw kerf. Both work, but not cutting all the way through keeps the lid from getting floppy even with spacers.
 

KenOfCary

Board of Directors, Secretary
Ken
Staff member
Corporate Member
When cutting the lid off on a table saw, set the blade just a tad short so you leave about 1/64 to 1/32" of material on the inside. Then use an xacto knife to cut it loose and trim that little bit of wood off with the knife or sandpaper. You'll get much better results when the box remains mostly intact and the cuts are more uniform and even. Not sure where I saw this tip, but it works well for me.
 

ScottM

Scott
Staff member
Corporate Member
Thanks for all your feedback and suggestions. When I cut this top I just went right on around instead of cutting opposite sides and using inserts and tape as Charles Lent suggested. I had made a jewellery box at TWA workshop many years ago and remember using a table saw but now that it was mentioned I do recall the inserts and tape. The problem I had was I had a slightly ridge on one side so I had to sand to try and get a nice fit.
 

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