Good morning folks!
As a high school mathematics teacher I understand the importance of practice through repetition to perfect specific techniques. Woodworking can often be done in a similar manner especially when considering joinery techniques; hand cut dovetails would be what I consider to be the most over practiced procedure. But during my college education I was taught the power of practice through problem solving as opposed to countless replication. Often during the process of solving a problem, the user will discover a solution by their own means while establishing ownership and familiarity. There is no reason why woodworking could be different. If I want to get better at reinforced rabbets, then why 5-10 joints using scrap wood that will just sit in the shop taking up space. Instead I would build a piece of furniture with a carcass such as a cabinet or a set of drawers for a chest or even a jewelry box to surprise my lovely wife.
All that being said there has always been a type of joinery that I wanted to try: Box Joints (also known as finger joints). Joining two boards at 90 degrees can be done several different ways many of which with a table saw don’t offer as much strength as dovetails. Butt joints offer little to no strength since the glue gets sucked into the end grain before ever curing into both boards. Rabbets allow for more glue surface area but you will still end up with end grain issues. These can be reinforced with dowels or metal fasteners. Pocket hole joints offer documented strength (I am skeptical) that compares with dovetails but you then have to deal with hiding the holes, setting the jigs correctly, and have the correct size screw for various thickness work pieces. Box joints can be easily cut using the table saw and a simple jig; each finger offers two sides of long grain to long grain glue surface excluding the first and last finger of course. All of the long grain glue surface provides significant joint strength without machine fasteners while also adding a level of style with the end grain being exposed in a uniform checkered pattern.
When I knew what I wanted to learn, I then needed a reason to use it. As stated above, I don’t want to practice for practice sake; I wanted to come away with a project after all my hard work. After some research and brain storming of what pieces of furniture or trinket I could use around the house, I landed on a beer caddy. If you Google beer caddy you will come up with several examples from DIY pallet Etsy style to refined metal versions. Some have open slots to see the beer labels, most have some type of bottle opener, and nearly all hold six regular 12 oz beer bottles. If I want to practice using box joints the open slots would have to be nixed for a solid piece of wood. With several references, an idea of how to alter them to fit my needs, and a solid amount of pine scraps I could head to the WoodShop to begin building.
Thank you for following along. Stay tuned into the PlaneOleWoodShop for the next post for the build process including jig construction, design alterations, and a warm reception. If you have any questions or advice for myself or other viewers please feel free to leave a comment below.