A Box for Kim, Part Two

Since the last installment I have made good progress on Kim’s Postal Box. If you missed the beginning you can go back and catch up here: Part One. In this current installment, I will show you how I did the rest of the joinery and share a couple of things I learned in the process. I was getting ready to fine tune some of the joinery after dry fitting the assembly. My mitered dovetails were not fitting as tightly as I would like so I worked on paring the high spots. Unfortunately some miters needed a little material added. Darn, the dreaded gaposis. Sigh!

18-miter-cutThe front and rear panels were sized, cut and relieved on the table saw.  They could have been done with a rabbet and/or shoulder plane but I did not have one at the shop and wanted to keep the project moving along. I don’t feel too badly about it. I cleaned up the inside surfaces with my #4 plane and got organized for assembly.


I used a brush to apply glue to the pins. Note the very rough surfaces between the pins. This was tear out that happened while chopping out the waste. In a little bit I’ll show how you can help prevent this from happening.


 I used many clamps to pull the joints tight.  No, this is not an advertisement for Irwin!21-assembly

 You may also have noticed that there is no opening in the box! I decided to add that after assembly. Why? Well, I forgot! 🙂  I drilled a couple of starter holes and used a key hole saw to cut out he opening for the locking door. 24-hole


The casting frame was not very square so I adjusted the opening to fit the casting using a rasp.


When I added the grooves for the front and back panels, I machined away part of the pin due to poor planning. I made a plug with matching endgrain to fill the hole.  When finished it will not be very noticeable.

22-fixingAfter some planing and light sanding I wiped on a coat of Minwax Tung Oil on the whole box.



Time to move to the base.  I laid out the geometry using a marking gauge and sliding bevel set to 6:1 ratio. This time I will do standard through dovetails!

26-base-layoutThen I made the saw cuts for the tails. Note the one saw kerf for the pin.

26a-base-joineryWhen I chopped the dovetails for the box I was having trouble with the wood tearing out no matter how sharp of an edge I put on the chisels. I was internet surfing and came across one of Paul Sellers videos on dovetailing and he showed a simple technique for helping minimize tear out. (Please note I am not taking any credit for this!)  Lightly chop and pare to remove the waste half way through the thickness but pare down at an angle while leaving a portion behind. This will support the wood and keep it from deflecting when you flip the piece over and chop from the opposite side. Simple, yes. Obvious, probably. Now I know a little more then I used to.


Mark the pins from the tails. I made very small pins that only use one kerf of the saw so I used a marking knife with an Ultra Thin blade. I find it best to strike many light passes to deepen the lines as the very thin blade is flexible and more prone to wandering than a standard thickness blade.


I chopped the waste out between the pins using a dovetail chisel. Again, I am leaving some wood to support the waste when chopping from the opposite side.


After a little fussing, the base was dry fit together and marked for a small recess that the box would fit down into. The box is not permanently attached to the base .


The recesses or rabbets were cut into the front and rear pieces using the table saw. Since the sides needed a stopped groove I clamped them together and marked out the area with a marking gauge and cleaned up the corners with a sharp one inch chisel. I then used a chisel and a Lie Nielsen small router to work down the recess to full depth.


I cut the legs using a dovetail saw for the angles and a band saw for the horizontal sections. The base was test fit and then assembled with glue and clamps. Note that a square was used for checking if it was …..square, of course. If you use a Blue spruce adjustable square you can always adjust the square to match the work! 🙂








After some clean-up, planing and sanding, I put on a light coat of oil and added some side chamfers using a low angle block plane.  The oil makes it easy to see progress.


Well, almost done! A little more clean up and a few coats of finish, screw in the door frame and call it done. I think Kim will be happy and keep issuing me a pay check!

After a project I think it is good to review and think about what went well, what could be improved, what you learned and where it may be helpful to seek out additional instruction. I am going to review mitered dovetails some more and do some practice joints. I may ask for advice from some of the people I follow on Instagram who do amazing work. Looking at the design, I was going to go with a simple mitered base. In hindsight, I should have stuck with my foresight. The base is too busy and competes with the upper box more than I like. I could make a new base for it, maybe in walnut or other darker wood to help anchor it visually….



Thanks for following along with my project. I hope that my adventures and trials will inspire you to dig in and not worry too much about being perfect. Have fun and keep on learning.  My next project will be a small wall cabinet to hold another very special project that I am working on.  Shhhh, I need to keep it quiet for a little longer though, It is going to be a surprise for my son.









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1 Comment

  1. John Paver

    Nicely done sir! Applying a bit of finish during construction I have found is a tremendous incentive to both validate the process as well as shine a small beacon on minor fixable elements that might otherwise become overlooked. Thank you for sharing….


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