Eleven Grooved Box Step by Step – Part 7: Gluing Up the Box

Gluing Up the Box

View the original Woodwright’s Shop video here.

Now all the pieces are completed and have been dry fit sucessfully.  I have sanded all the inside box surfaces to 280 grit as sanding would be difficult after the box is assembled.  Titebond III is used because it has a longer open time than the usual yellow glue but i still have to work very quickly.  All components are laid out and strap clamps have been adjusted so they can be quickly tightened.

The process begins with a sizing coat of Titebond on all eight of the mitered edges.  With a damp rag, wipe off any glue that slops over to the inside surface and also clean out the three grooves. It’s important to NOT glue the top and bottom plates at their corners with glue squeeze out. To apply glue, I use an acid brush with about half the bristles trimmed off to make it stiffer.

The most important area is coating the inside of the spline grooves. The splines add most of the strength to the box corners.


Initial glue coat on the mitered surfaces

Now apply glue to all surfaces of the spline and insert into one of the sides.  In the following photo note this is one of the splines that was a bit short so it has been cut into two pieces. The gap is buried and will not show.  If the spline is tight (they expand a bit when the wet glue is applied) push it into the groove evenly with a piece of scrap wood. They break very easily. Apply a final thin coat of glue to the side miter surfaces and fit two adjacent sides together.


Buttering up a spline

When three sides of the box are assembled, slide the top and bottom plates into their respective grooves.  Then continue with the final two splines.


Insert the top and bottom plates

When the fourth side is in place, position the corner blocks and apply strap clamps. Watch the miter junctions closely as the straps are tightened, they always slip a little bit and this is the last chance to get them even.



Roy Underhill would have quit with the first strap (he uses a twisted rope).  I believe in the principle that it never hurts to apply another clamp.  These also can be tightened selectively to fine tune the mitered joints.


Clamp city

Several hours have passed and the clamps are removed.  Lightly sand the side surfaces so the corners have no protrusions and use a block plane to remove the excess spline material. The next step will be planing the top surface level so this is the time to fill any gaps at the splines or miters. I have applied a sawdust/superglue mixture to the splines in this photo which I have found works well with an oil finish.

Glued up

Glued up

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