Box Joint Coffee Table

 

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My full video of the build is below, followed by detailed instructions with tools, materials, and measurements! 

This faux box joint style is really cool in my opinion. It can be achieved with a bit of good design, focus, and precision, and has very unique results when totally finished. I had built something similar once before and learned a lot in the process, so I was excited to take on another build similar to it but with my past experience in hand. 

MATERIALS
18 x 2" x 3" Framing Lumber*
2" Finish Nails (not totally necessary)
TiteBond II Wood Glue
Dark Walnut Danish Oil
Minwax Clear Finish Polyurethane
 

*Note - This amount of material fits my specific design / dimensions

Step 1 was just to design the whole project. Below are my designs that I worked from:

Top Profile.png

This is my design looking straight down from the top.
Blue cuts are the longest pieces I'd need for my project.
Pink cuts were initially measured out, but would be contingent upon the final width of the wood as the length of the pink piece + the width of the two yellow pieces would need to add up to the length of the blue piece

This is the side profile of the table. You can see that the green leg pieces will be shorter due to the blue pieces extending to the end of the table. The Yellow pieces (not shown here), would be the length of the green pieces + the thickness of the blue piece (if that makes sense)

This is a view from the bottom of the table. The yellow and green pieces did not have a definitive length during design (but were roughly 15 and 12.5 inches, respectively). I will give my final cuts later. 

Bottom Profile with Shelf.png

This is the same view from the bottom, but now includes the bottom shelf that I added in. The brown pieces were the length of my pink pieces + one inch as I was going to be using Dados to hold them in place. more on that later. 

I planed all of my wood down - first to remove the rounded edges, then on each side to give clean surfaces for glue ups.

Removing the rounded edges can be done on a table saw as well, I just hate my table saw and would rather not work unsafely.

The second picture shows the difference between the square side you want and the awful rounded side it started with. 

Now I was selective at the store as to the quality of materials I bought, but once I had everything planed down, I took extra time to sort my wood based on the cleanest surfaces. I chose the best looking ones to surface as my table top parts since that would be the most visible. 

I had planed my wood down to a width of nearly 2.2" - a width I knew was uniform across the board. So in order to make box joints fit properly, I needed leg pieces that were 2.2" different in length as well as top pieces that were 2.2" difference on each side, for a total of 4.4". 

Thus, you can see my table top cuts on the left. I ended up basing my smaller cuts off of a final length of 40" (so 40-2.2-2.2 = 35.6"), as I planned on having my longer pieces a bit long so I could cut them down rather than need extra length I couldn't get. 

My bottom row pieces were 1" longer than the middle width of my table so they could sit comfortably in a half inch dado on each side. 

For my legs, since I went for a table height of 15", my shorter pieces needed to be 2.2' shorter than that, or 12.8" roughly. The final picture shows how I made my cuts. Now in my purchase list, I tell you to buy 18 pieces, but in reality, you can get what you need from 17, but having one back up piece is just a smart idea. 

One little tip here is to cut your 12.8" pieces slightly long so that you don't end up with pieces not quite long enough to form the box joint and reach the bottom of your table. You can always plane them down later, which I chose to do, and did, and it worked great. 

Once I had all of my cuts made, I could begin my glue ups. I did this upside down, so the final table top would be facing downwards. I alternated my pieces (photo) on top of two bar clamps and made sure the cleaner looking surface was facing downwards. 

NOTE - in this first round of glue ups, you will only glue together 13/15 of your pieces for the top. You will save your two final outside blue pieces for a second round of glue ups for later as well as the corresponding green legs.

Above is a glue up trick technique I was taught. Using a Kreg Clamp (Pic 1), I could put glue on one piece, spread it out evenly, squeeze together and line up to make sure the box joint edge went out as far as teh thickness of my leg piece (pic 3), then clamp together across the two pieces to keep them flat and flush (pic 4), and then use a 2" finish nail to hold it in place (pic 5). I then could repeat this process for each piece I glued up. The result was a pretty damn flat glue up without a lot of clean up.  

Image 13.jpg

Clean up as much glue squeeze out as you can once you clamp up everything with a wet rag - makes the finish process so much smoother (no pun intended). 

NOTE AGAIN - you'll only have 13 pieces glue up at this point (see image above). 

I then could repeat the process for my legs, alternating pieces (pic 1 and 2 - the alternating process should be relatively straight forward and fit tightly together), then my other side's legs (pic 3), and then finally my bottom table (pic 4). Again, clean away any glue squeeze out for easy finishing later on. 

Your bottom table (pic 4) will have 13 pieces glued together as well. 

Before final assembly, I finished everything. First, I belt sanded all my surfaces using 40 grit paper which flattened everything nicely.

Next, in order to take down the protrusions (remember I cut my longer pieces .5" long), I used my Turboplane and a flap disk to take them down. This can also be done with a block plane, a belt sander with rough grit, a hand held electric planer, or a flush trim saw. 

I then went over all my surfaces with 80 and 120 grit sand paper on my orbital sander. Looked great!

I then took the opportunity here to square up my leg bottoms using my T Square and a circular saw. My saw didn't cut all the way through, so I made one pass, flipped it over, and cut the other side. If your cut isn't perfect, a belt sander will flatten it out quickly. 

As I said before, I wanted to insert my bottom shelf using dado slots. To do this, I used a half inch dado bit (pic 1) and my plunge router. 

Then, I measured 9 inches down from the top on each side, then used my T Square to trace my lines (pic 2 and 3). I used the width of the wood to then trace a second line (not pictured) so I had my entire dado area marked out. 

Then, using a straight edge, my rafter square, and my router, I made multiple passes to cut out my slot. Pic 5 shows it in action, and Pic 6 shows the final dado slot, which was about .625" deep). I repeated this process on each side, being very VERY precise in all of my measurements before cutting. I had never done this before and was proud of the result. 

Doing a final fit! You can see that the dado is not 100% perfect. That is okay, as you'll be gluing on one outside layer on each side of the table next, which will cover up those imperfections. 

In this next glue up, as mentioned before, you'll add in your outside blue pieces (40.5" long) for the table top on each side, as well as your four green legs (15" long) on each corner. Lastly, you'll add in your final two pink pieces (35.6" long).

I didn't use finish nails here, just clamping pressure. I did, however, use little scrap pieces in certain areas so the clamps did not damage the wood from pressure (see pic 2, bottom middle clamp). 

You'll also note that, as I pointed out in my cuts previously, I made my 12.8" pieces a bit long, resulting in four outside leg pieces that were slightly longer than my middle legs and made for a great little leg design unintentionally. 

also used four small angle brackets with screws to secure the bottom shelf from the underside. This would help keep the top of the shelf flush with the top edge of the dado I had cut.

I applied two coats of Dark Walnut Danish oil 8 hours apart to stain the table. Once it had cured, I applied 4-5 coats of a clear satin polyurethane finish to all of my surfaces, making sure to let it dry thoroughly and sand in between each coat with wet 220 grit sand paper. I find using wet sandpaper with poly finishes helps contain the sanding mess. 

 

Power-Carved Bench

 

Thanks for checking out the full article!
Please Subscribe to our Youtube Channel by clicking here.

My full video of the build is below, followed by detailed instructions with tools, materials, and measurements! 

MATERIALS
1 x 2" x 4" x 8' 
3 x 2" x 4" x 10'
1 x 2" x 12" x 10'
1 x 2" x 12" x 12"
TiteBond II Wood Glue
Natural Danish Oil

*Note - All wood is Kiln Dried Douglas Fir

I worked on a really fun table build a few months back in partnership with ArborTech using their ARBORTECH TURBOPlane Blade and it was a blast. They sent me a photo reference of another fun project to tackle with it, so I said why not? The coolest thing about this project is that it is held together purely with glue - no hardware is needed and the results, if done right, are stunning!

I made the following cuts from my rough lumber:

From 2 x 4's
12 x 9"
12 x 10"
4 x 13"
4 x 17"

From 2 x 12's
1 x 31"
1 x 32"
1 x 34"
1 x 50"
2 x 54"

Here is a diagram of how my cuts are broken out incase you need clarification. 

Since I would be laminating all of these pieces together, I needed clean, flat surface. 

I planed down all of my pieces as the edges were slightly rough or cupped and in order to make this type of project work, you'll want your surfaces to be as flat as possible to the glue joints are as flush as can be. 

Tip - If you cut all of your pieces and don't necessarily plane and glue them up in the same day, make sure you store them flat and stacked to avoid cupping or bowing. Also, it is easier for me to make my cuts then plane the wood down versus planing very large pieces and maneuvering them constantly.

This next step is a little tricky but I'll try my best to explain. In order to make the back of the lounge chair on one side, you'll need to cut a series of "L" shaped pieces from your 2 x 12" pieces so that when you laminate them together and eventually carve them out, everything will flow nicely and the edge grain will transition properly to the end grain. 

To do this, I made the above cuts by measuring them out using a T square on my wood carefully and then, using just my circular saw and "plunging" it into the wood, I cut make the cuts. The cuts will extend into the corner of the "L" but that is okay as you'll carve much of this material away anyways. The above diagram shows all of the "L" cuts you'll make. 

NOTE - Do NOT cut the small part of the "L" off - your pieces should look like picture number 4 above. The width of the small part of the "L" should be 5 inches wide. 

Next were glue ups. If you watched the video, this might be a bit more clear, but I'll write it out here for full detail:

Legs
You'll end up making four total legs, each using 3 x 9", 3 x 10", 1 x 13", and 1 x17" pieces (pics 1-3) laminated together

Seat Bench
You'll make one bench seat using 1 x 50" and 2 x 54" pieces laminated together (pic 4). I recommend deep jaw clamps for this so you can make sure your middle is glued together - I used scrap hardwood instead as I don't have deep jaw clamps. 

Lounge Back Rest
You'll use the six "L" shaped pieces laminated together (pic 5). Pieces will be laminated together in order based on their length so it forms a stepping shape.

Once all four legs, your bench seat, and your lounge back rest are formed, you can laminated all of those pieces together as well to form this really cool looking "Glulam" bench. Note - I am limited on clamps, so this was 9 total glue ups over the course of a week to make sure all of my pieces were properly secured and cured over the right length of time.   

Now it was time to shape my piece down to it's final form!

To shape this piece, I am using my ARBORTECH TURBOPlane Blade which is a beast at shaping, contouring, and carving away wood. 

I marked out the rough shape I was aiming for using a sharpie (Pic 1), and then, over the course of four hours, I carved away a large chunk of material from my piece to give it a very sleek look. The TurboPlane is great at carving away wood, and as tricky or intimidating as it might sound, it is very easy to control how much or how little you take away. I carved away material on the legs, back rest, and bench top and bottom to create a flowing curved shape.  

Now, while the TurboPlane carves great, it isn't always easy to carve flat. Often, you're left with gouges, which is where Flap Discs come in handy. I used a 40 grit flap disk, which also removes a lot of material, but is much better at only removing "high points", thus helping you to flatten everything out and begin finessing the curves of your piece. I probably did this for 2 hours after carving. 

Then, it literally started snowing where I was, so I called it quits for the day. I was also pretty wiped. 

Back at home where it was sunny, I went back and removed another 5 pounds or so of material using the TurboPlane as the profile wasn't sleek enough for what I was going for. After following that up with more flap disk smoothing at 40 grit, I moved onto orbital sanding at 80 and 120 grit, followed by hand sanding at 120 and 220 grit. I also did a wet sanding at 220 as this piece was going to see a lot of weather and I wanted the grain to remain smooth if it got moist. 

By the way - how cool does picture 3 look with the edge grain transitioning to end grain?

After final sanding, I used a bit of Minwax Wood Filler to take care of a few gaps I couldn't avoid during the lamination stage and then sanded it down. It looks perfect and you'd never notice there were gaps otherwise. This felt unavoidable as Douglas Fir will undoubtedly cup a little bit in between all of these cuts, planes, and glue ups. 

Last up was finishing, and I did one thick coat of Natural Danish Oil on this piece, which helped preserve the look of the wood while also bringing out the grain. I didn't apply any sort of poly or sealant to it as it will be indoors. I will likely revisit a sealant in a few months once I see how the piece holds up as it will be in the mountains and possibly over-exposed to elements and weather shifts. 

Here is a final carousel for you to check out the transition from various stages until the final form of the bench in picture 5. 

As well as a final photos just to check out! I'll post better photos once it is in its final home. 

So stoked with how this thing came out! It is AWESOME. 

TOOLS
RYOBI Circular Saw
RYOBI 10 in. Sliding Compound Miter Saw
RYOBI Miter Saw Stand
Wen 12.5” Thickness Planer
MAKITA Paddle Switch 4.5” Angle Grinder
ARBORTECH TURBOPlane Blade
Flap Discs
BESSEY Economy 2.5” x 12” Clutch Clamps
BESSEY Economy 2.5” x 24” Clutch Clamps
BESSEY H Style Pipe Clamps
Tape Measure
Hand Sanding Sponges (120 and 220 Grit)
3M Face Shield

FILM / EDIT EQUIPMENT: 
Canon Rebel EOS T2i
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens
Studio Lighting Equipment
Rode Microphone
Voice Recording
Adobe Premiere (Editorial)

As always, thank you for reading! I would be so grateful if you could please subscribe to my new Youtube Channel for future projects. I put out videos every two weeks.

Cheers!

Zach