Eleven Grooved Box Step by Step – Part 6: Making the Top and Bottom Plates

Making the Top and Bottom Plates

View the original Woodwright’s Shop video here.

I make these recipe card boxes are made from 11/16″ Cherry paneling that was resawn to yield 3/8″ thick (sides) and 3/16″ (top,bottom) boards. The top and bottom must be trimmed to exact size and thinned at the edges to fit into the prepared grooves. I have kept the resawn slabs together so the grain and color matches.

The first step is to slice off from the best end of the 3/16 stock, just enough to make the top and bottom plates. In this case, 11 1/2 inches.

Cut stock for top and bottom plate

Cut stock for top and bottom plate

The lid stock is slightly thicker than the 1/8″ grooves in the sides so I use a plane to rabbit the edges until they fit. My moving filister plane is a kludged up dado plane. It has a nice skewed blade and a separate nicker, so I just had to add a homemade fence.  I adjust the fence to reveal an eighth inch of main blade.  It only takes a couple of passes to reduce the plate thickness to an eighth inch so the depth stop can be set very shallow.

Proper protocol for rabbiting end grain with one of these is to first draw the plane backwards with a good bit of pressure, across the end. This causes the nicker to cut a starting line across the board. It reduces tear out where the blade exits the board.  I help the plane out by knifing the exit end of the line a bit. Always do the end grain first, then the long grain edges. If there is any tearout at the exit, rabbiting the long grain may clean it up.

Rabbit end grain edges to 1/8 inch

Rabbit end grain edges to 1/8 inch

I do one end grain edge and one long grain edge before marking the final sizing saw cut. That way I can mark both final dimensions from the dry fit box at one time. Here, I am checking the thickness of the edge with one of the side offcuts after rabbiting.  A slightly loose fit is preferred because this is frame and panel construction and the lid plates should be free to expand and contract with humidity changes.

Rabbit side to 1/8 inch

Rabbit side to 1/8 inch

Lay the rabbited edge over the dry fit box and carefully mark the other end at the inside edge. The width of the plate was spot on in this example, otherwise I would do the same marking procedure from the rabbit on the long grain edge.

Marking the other long grain edge

Marking the other long grain edge

Now square across the edge mark, add an eighth of an inch (using a brass thickness gauge here) and mark across the plate for the second cut.

Square across and add 1/8 inch

Square across and add 1/8 inch

The final steps are:

  • Cut off the plate at the line
  • Rabbit the remaining two edges as above
  • Trim a bit off each corner, helps keep glue squeeze out from freezing the plate in position
  • Repeat all these steps for the bottom plate.

This photo shows the dry fit box with both finished top and bottom plates ready for glue up. Pick the best plate for the top side and mark it with a bit of tape.  Also mark the top edge of all four side pieces with tape. This will keep things straight during the glue up DAMHIKT.

Finished top and bottom plates

Finished top and bottom plates

The final step before glue, is to decide where to make the saw cut that opens the box. You have to be able to see the lip groove to do this.  Measure down from the top of the box to a little above halfway in the lip groove and record this number. Later we set a marking gauge to this depth and score the outside of the box so it can be cut open properly.

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