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  1. #1

    Default strongest joints for box making

    what are the strongest joints for box making? i want to be able to build my boxes without screws do to the design i have in mind for the corners, what do you guys do? one of the boxes will be a 10" sub box, will it hold up without screws?
    Last edited by mikegraveling; 04-01-2009 at 11:27 AM. Reason: added

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Panama City, FL
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Try lock miter joints. They are self locking and are much easier to keep aligned while clamping the joint when gluing. The router bit to cut the joint costs around $40-$50.

    -David

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Chicagoland
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    741

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    I like to use 45 degree mitered joints for small enclosures. You apply 2 inch masking tape on the outside of the joints, apply glue to the mating surfaces and close it like a book. If you align them carefully and they are quite small, you may even get by with little or no clamping. I prefer to clamp any way. I try to do four sides and one end at a time to help square every thing up. The mitered joint yields plenty of glue surface area and rounding over the corners still leaves a strong joint.

    More recently I have used a biscuit joiner and biscuits with but* (censor software) joints for larger enclosures. This method makes for even easier assembly than miter joints. It also self aligns and is more stable under clamp pressure. I always oversize the edges and flush trim them with a router after glue up.

    Marv

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    Outer Banks NC
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    1,310

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Depends on what you have to bring to bear in terms of equipment and skills - dovetail joinery is incredibly strong and has maximum glue surface and is the most self aligning. The next best, as said is locking joinery - also self aligning and lots of glue surface. Next would be half lap with corner blocks to align things for you. And lots of clamps. Lots of clamps. Oh, yeah, lots of clamps.


    When you run make sure you run,
    to something not away from, cause lies don't need an aeroplane to chase you anywhere.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Malvern, Ohio
    Posts
    3,419

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Quote Originally Posted by mikegraveling View Post
    what are the strongest joints for box making? i want to be able to build my boxes without screws do to the design i have in mind for the corners, what do you guys do? one of the boxes will be a 10" sub box, will it hold up without screws?
    I agree with David. The lock miter joint works good with MDF, plywood or hardwoods. All you need to do is tap in together and clamp.

    http://www.binkyswoodworking.com/DrawerLockMiter.html
    This link is for drawers but shows two kinds of bits to use. You will also need a descent router table
    Dave

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Malvern, Ohio
    Posts
    3,419

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Quote Originally Posted by biff View Post
    Depends on what you have to bring to bear in terms of equipment and skills - dovetail joinery is incredibly strong and has maximum glue surface and is the most self aligning. The next best, as said is locking joinery - also self aligning and lots of glue surface. Next would be half lap with corner blocks to align things for you. And lots of clamps. Lots of clamps. Oh, yeah, lots of clamps.


    Nice job Bif. Those look great! I haven't done dovetails in a long time.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    No longer in TX Now in Mid MO
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    414

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    I would like to get a biscuit jointer for this. Its not as strong as the ones already mentioned, but it is easier, and has a different appearance. The only time I have used one it was for bu++ joints, but I think it would work well for corners. I am a believer in clamps. The masking tape trick also works on bu++ joints.

    I know you said no screws, but maybe this will be helpful. I have had good luck with putting a by strip in the corners with glue and putting screws through it from the inside out. This gets you lots of glue surface and does not require clamps if you pre drill the strip. I have used this with furniture mostly. Obviously one side of an enclosed box cannot employ this technique. If you put glue on the screws they go in easy and dont come out.
    Thanks'

  8. #8

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Although more elaborate joints are better, I find that simple b*tt joints are adequate, providing that the edges are nice and square.

    Remember it's a speaker, not a chair... unless you plan on sitting on it or otherwise abusing it.
    Form does not follow function
    Form is simultaneous to function

  9. #9

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Box joints are also strong and simple -- you can make them with a router or table saw and dado.

    I've made a jig for TS box joints in about 10 minutes, another 10 or so to get it set up just right, then you can knock out box joints all day long.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finger_joint


    And while we're talking joining wood remember that "Finewoodworking Magazine" tested a bunch of different types of glue and good 'ol Titebond was best. "Gorilla Glue" came in at the back of the pack, especially for gap-filling.

    I'd suggest you find a collection of FWW and read the articles on the glue test and the joint test they also did -- glue had some really surprising results, joint didn't but was still informative!
    Last edited by mikec; 04-01-2009 at 12:49 PM. Reason: added glue comment

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    Outer Banks NC
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    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Quote Originally Posted by davepellegrene View Post
    Nice job Bif. Those look great! I haven't done dovetails in a long time.

    Much as I would love to take credit for those, the cabs are Cizeks from the 70's, in a beautiful Koa wood - heavy and THICK stuff. As strong as they are ,I had two choices with these, refinish and reuse these for speakers or block up the Dakota while we rebuilt the brakes.

    The cinderblocks weighed less, so I used them on the brake job, though I think the cabinets are stronger.
    When you run make sure you run,
    to something not away from, cause lies don't need an aeroplane to chase you anywhere.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Howell NJ
    Posts
    7,120

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Just do double layer box for a sub.
    1) glue it and screw it with 3/4 inch mdf.
    2) glue and screw in a few braces
    3) then 1/2 inch mdf over the 3/4 inch mdf .
    4) glue it and clamp it.
    5) paint or veneer over the nail less top layer of mdf


    for subs heavy thick boxes work well. you can do this and then use solid wood over the smooth layer of veneer. lowes sells 1/4 inch pieces of oak and you can use strips of it alternating with strips of maple from this ebay seller see link.

    http://stores.ebay.com/JX3-HARDWOODS

    these are some nice pieces he has

    http://cgi.ebay.com/I1025-GOLDEN-CUR...742.m153.l1262

  12. #12

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    thank you everyone for your suggestions, i think i have an idea of where i am going now.

    thanks

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Orlando, FL
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    1,151

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    I have the jigs to do the elaborate joinery and use them for furniture. For speaker cabinets a simple **** joint works fine with cleats on the interior. I use a brad nailer to hold it together while gluing.

    How durable are they? I had suspended a 3 cubic foot sub enclosure about 6 feet off the shop floor to get it out of the way while building another one. You guessed it, the hook failed and it landed on one of the corners. The joints held but the corner required a half a can of bondo to straighten out.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Quote Originally Posted by mikegraveling View Post
    what are the strongest joints for box making? i want to be able to build my boxes without screws do to the design i have in mind for the corners, what do you guys do? one of the boxes will be a 10" sub box, will it hold up without screws?
    A simple rabet joint will work well with MDF or plywood. Modern glues (e.g. Titebond) are really, really good. -- Doug

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Posts
    557

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Hello,
    as my skills in woodworking are limited, I use ordinary nails and white wood-glue. After that I brace all the bonds on the inside with hardwood of abt 1"x1". See my folders for details.

    Regards//Lasse

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    SW BC
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    380

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Quote Originally Posted by dougjohnson View Post
    A simple rabet joint will work well with MDF or plywood. Modern glues (e.g. Titebond) are really, really good. -- Doug
    I too use rabbet joints extensively for a number of good reasons:
    1. An advantage over but(t) joints is that there's no slipping or sliding of pieces because you can clamp along two planes.
    2. The inside measurement of the enclosure between the rabbet joint at the top and bottom allows precise assembly of parts resulting in perfect vertical and horizontal spacing.
    Here's a layout of Modula MT components prior to gluing and clamping.
    (The port has previously been glued onto the interior brace & the lines on the inside of side pieces are to help position braces during glue-up):

    (Note: the baffle won't be glued on at this time)
    3. Corner joints are exceptionally strong because the parts are glued along two planes.
    4. During assembly it's easy to focus on squaring up the corners by simply using bar clamps across the diagonals.
    In fact, with rabbets, I found it possible (and easier) to assemble and glue the whole enclosure (sans baffle) in one step
    like here:

    5. They're very easy to make using a table saw or router.
    6. Finally, there's no need to use screws - ever.
    HTH,
    Bruce

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    1,151

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Geez Bruce, I have clamp envy.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Marion, IA
    Posts
    511

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    I wonder if some of the more elaborate joint types (dovetail, box/finger, etc) are actually less strong than regular old butor rabet type joints if you are using MDF. It's been shown that the glue is actually stronger than the wood, and MDF is considerably less strong than just about any solid wood. So while you may be getting more glue surface, you may be reducing the MDF's structural integrity at the joint. I think as long as you keep the dovetails or box joints spaced appropriately they would be adequately strong, but I can easily envision some scenarios where they could be very fragile.

    That said I normally do rabet joints like Bruce. I've never had a joint failure with that or even old crappy butjoints (I built a sub box in college and the edges were all cut with a junky old jig saw). As long as you put enough glue in the joint it will hold itself together! My personal opinion is that unless you are using solid wood and you'll actually see the "fancy" joints, it's probably going to be more work than it's worth and won't really give you an appreciably stronger box.

  19. #19

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason View Post
    I wonder if some of the more elaborate joint types (dovetail, box/finger, etc) are actually less strong than regular old but or rabet type joints if you are using MDF. It's been shown that the glue is actually stronger than the wood, and MDF is considerably less strong than just about any solid wood. So while you may be getting more glue surface, you may be reducing the MDF's structural integrity at the joint. I think as long as you keep the dovetails or box joints spaced appropriately they would be adequately strong, but I can easily envision some scenarios where they could be very fragile.

    That said I normally do rabet joints like Bruce. I've never had a joint failure with that or even old crappy butjoints (I built a sub box in college and the edges were all cut with a junky old jig saw). As long as you put enough glue in the joint it will hold itself together! My personal opinion is that unless you are using solid wood and you'll actually see the "fancy" joints, it's probably going to be more work than it's worth and won't really give you an appreciably stronger box.
    Mostly true. The rabbets definitely help in aligning. Done right, they also can allow you to use the veneer on ply as your only finish. You rabbet one piece the width of the material, and leave 1/8" or so of thickness. Then you only have a 1/8" exposed edge.

  20. #20

    Default Re: strongest joints for box making

    Spline joints work well and are easy to do. If you look hard you can see the spline at the joints..


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