Eleven Grooved Box Step by Step – Part 3: Slicing and Tuning the Box Sides

Slicing and Tuning the Box Sides

See the original “Woodwright’s Shop” video here.

This is a Stanley Miter Box, same as the one Roy uses in the Video.  The huge back saw will cut just over a five inch depth. In the video, Roy holds the stock with his left hand but I had trouble with the board moving so I use a couple of clamps. The side of the stock with grooves and lip strip is always facing the Miter Box fence.

Here I’m making the first 45 degree cut on the leading end of the stock.

First Cut

First Cut – Stanley Mitre Box with Grooved Stock Clamped in Place

These boxes will hold 3×5 cards so I use a sample card to lay out the inside length for the second cut.  It will be about an eighth inch longer than the card, and the mark is on the inside of the next miter. This will form the front of the completed box.

Marking for Second Cut

Marking for Second Cut using 3×5 card

Now the stock is flipped 180 degrees and clamped on the right side of the Miter Box. The second cut is made just to the right of the pencil mark.

Second Cut

Second Cut

The future box front has been sawn from the grooved stock with lip strip included.

Completed Box Front

Completed Box Front

Fiip the stock back to the left side and trim off the miter from the first piece.  This will be the first cut on the next section, forming the left side of the box.

First Cut for Second Piece

First Cut for Second Piece

How long should the box sides be?  The inside edge of the two miters have to fit between 1/8 inch rabbits on the thin top stock. So I use the actual top stock to mark for the cut.  Best to err on the narrow side here, as I can always trim the top stock a bit.

Remember that wood moves when humidity changes so the top has to be a little loose in the cross grain direction. This is actually “Frame and Panel” construction, the top and bottom pieces float free in their grooves.

Measuring Box Side

Measuring Box Side

The third piece sliced from the grooved board will form the rear of the box.  Here I am using the front piece to lay out where to cut.  I will actually cut a bit long and trim this rear piece to match the front later.

Marking Length of Rear piece

Marking Length of Rear piece

The fourth and final piece forms the right side of the box and follows the same procedure, matching length with the previously cut left side.

I put pencil dots where they won’t show in the bottom groove to keep track of the order the pieces were sawn out.  Assembling them in order maintains the flow of wood grain around the completed box sides.

Later, I will use the dot method to keep track of the lip strips as they are pried out.

Dots inside bottom groove

Dots Inside Bottom Groove

Now that all four sides are sliced out, I clean and trim each to exact size on the Shooting Board.  First I use a utility knife to relieve the leading corner of the two exposed grooves. This keeps the plane from tearing out that delicate edge.

Relieving Leading Corners

Relieving Leading Corners

On the first (front or left side) piece it’s only necessary to take a couple of clean up strokes.

On the Shooting Board

On the Shooting Board

The mating second piece (rear or right side) is always sawn a bit longer than the first. It’s cleaned up and then trimmed until it’s length exactly matches the first piece.  The photo shows the front and rear pieces back to back.

Matching Length of Front and Rear Pieces

Matching Length of Front and Rear Pieces

With all four pieces cut and tuned to length, the box can be dry fit with a couple of rubber bands around it, to check the miters.


These miters fit pretty good.  If they were off, I would tune the Shooting Board miter attachment and re-shoot the miters. It’s adjusted by adding or removing strips of thin cardboard underneath. I use playing cards.

The technical term for this sideways holding fixture is a “Donkey’s Ear”. Having never owned a Donkey, I can’t comment on the name. It is simply a block of scrap cut at 45 degrees, and a thin bit of scrap screwed to the end for a stop.  I glued sandpaper to the 45 degree face to help keep the work piece from moving around.

Shooting Board with Donkey's Ear Attachment

Shooting Board with Donkey’s Ear Attachment

On a Shooting Board, the plane blade is vertical. It helps to get through the cut if the plane has a lot of mass so I use the big Stanley. Since it’s planing end grain, it must be very sharp and take a fine shaving.

The whole thing is clamped to a convenient massive surface (table saw).

Shooting Board with Stanley #6

Shooting Board with Stanley #606 in Working Position

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