Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva teaches apprentice Austin how to make a variety of different wood joints by building simple utility boxes.
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Time: 2-3 hours
Skill Level: Beginner-Expert, depending on the joint
Tools List for Cutting Wood Joints:
Table saw blade
1. Cut the lumber to desired length using a table saw or a miter saw.
2. Cut the _” plywood to size for three boxes based on the previous cuts made. The plywood will serve as a bottom for all the boxes.
3. Set the dado blade in the table saw to just slightly above the thickness of the board.
4. Hold the board on its long side and eyeball the desired thickness of the rabbet cut. Slide the rip fence against the board and lock it down when the gap between the rip fence and the blade are at the desired thickness.
5. With the board still standing upright, run it through the table saw.
6. Repeat this process on the other side of the board, and then again on the board that will be parallel to this one on the completed box.
7. Switch the dado blade to a table saw blade and make a cut on all four boards the thickness of the bottom of the box to receive the bottom of the box.
8. Cover all the joints with wood glue and assemble the first three sides.
9. Slide the bottom into the dados, then add the fourth side.
10. Screw all the sides together with the wood screws.
11. Switch the table saw blade back to a dado blade.
12. Set the blade height to roughly a _”. You can use the _” plywood as a guide.
13. Stand the board tall and then adjust the rip fence so that the blade falls perfectly center with the board.
14. Set the board flat and run the dado cut. Repeat this process on the other side of the board, and then again on the board that will be parallel to this one on the completed box.
15. To make the rabbet cuts, take a sacrificial piece of wood the same dimensions as the box lumber and hold it against the rip fence. Lay the board flat against the sacrificial piece and run it through the blade.
16. Repeat this process on the other side of the board, and then again on the board that will be parallel to this one on the completed box.
17. Switch the dado blade to a table saw blade and make a cut on all four boards that’s about _” thick to receive the bottom of the box.
18. Cover all the joints with wood glue, assemble the box with the bottom, and clamp it together until the glue dries.
About Generation Next:
This Old House’s Generation NEXT initiative shines a light on the urgent need for young people to enter the building trades and fill the skills gap in America today. “There’s a critical need for people in home construction,” says the This Old House master carpenter Norm Abram. The initiative has involved recruiting apprentices—some with no skills, some with a few years under their tool belts—to work alongside the TOH TV pros.
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How to Cut Wood Joints | Generation Next | Ask This Old House