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Box with Spline Joints

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1413 downloads 6 comments
Jeremy Richards

Project by

Jeremy Richards
Auckland, New Zealand

General Information

Here’s a nice little box that makes for a great weekend project.

Like this project Open in Easel®
Material Description Price
Carbide Tip Upcut Single Flute - 1/8 in Cutting x 1/8 in Shank

Carbide Tip Upcut Single Flute - 1/8 in Cutting x 1/8 in Shank

Cutting Diameter: 1/8 in - 2013 - 2015, Shank Diameter: 1/8 in, Quantity: 10

Soft Maple - Hardwood Type

Soft Maple - Hardwood Type (×2)

Dimensions: 6 in × 12 in - don't use, Thickness: 1/2 in - don't use

File Description Unit Price

Tea Box with spline joints.svg


Download Zip

from Inventables



Please read all the way through these instructions before starting the project.

Take the time to gather the materials you will need as well as the tools you may need as well.

Ask these questions when getting ready:

- Do I have the right safety equipment (mask, ear protection, eye protection…)
- Will there be sanding, and with what? (gather progressively finer grits up to 600 for a smooth finish)
- Will there be a need to flush cut? (probably… with what?)
- What method will be used for cut through (tabs, or sanding a thin layer, etc.)
- What finish will be used?
- What is the clamping method?
- Is there enough material for the project and what types?
- What is needed for assembly of the project?

Hopefully these will help you get what you need before you start.


Click the Easel Button

Go ahead and click the Easel button and familiarize yourself with the pieces that will be cut and what the tool paths look like.

The bit used is a 1/8in bit, but when precisely measured with calipers it came out to 3mm. Be sure to measure your bit and use that number for the tool path setup. This is important and will ensure that you get square and solid fitting joints.

In the BOM a 1/2 soft maple is listed as the material, but you may want to adjust based on what you will use for the project. For mine, I split the pieces between two types of wood as you can see in the pictures.

Also, this was originally designed in millimeters, and the thickness of material that I had on hand was 10mm. Since it is more common to find 1/2 in material, I just had it mill down the pieces to 10 mm from 12.7mm (1/2in). You may want to adjust this or save time by thickening the wood to 10mm, but be careful of the adjustments made, seeing as it may not all fit together if not adjusted correctly.


Secure the Material

For this project I didn’t have a lot of extra space left on my material and so I used double sided tape to hold the pieces down. This worked better than I expected, but your milage may vary.

Secure the material in your preferred way and be sure that the hold down options are clear of the tool paths that you examined in the step above.

Tip: the surface of the material that is placed facing down is the surface that will show on the outside of the box sides, so you may want to pick the best grain pattern and position accordingly.


Start Cutting

Once you have double checked the tool paths and are ready to go, click carve and proceed to watch the machine do it’s stuff.

I love this part… :)


Lightly Sand and Square Inner Corners

Once the parts are all cut out, go ahead and lightly sand the pieces. this is just enough to remove any tear-out caused by the bit.

Also, you will want to square cut the rounded inner corners on the notches present on the sides. Yes, this seems like it might be a little tedious, but is shouldn’t take very long and there are lots of ways to get the job done. Here are a few ways you can do it:

- file the corners with a small rasp or file
- square cut the corners with a small chisel
- use a flush cut saw or a hack saw blade to saw the corners square
- use a hand jig saw to cut the corners square

I would like to have used the chisel method, but because I did’t have one, I just used a hack saw blade and it did;t take long before they were all squared instead of rounded. There really isn’t much material to remove in this step.



You may want to dry fit all of the pieces first to see how the box will go together, but once you are ready it is time to glue it all together.

Start with the bottom piece and a side piece. Smooth the glue onto the sides of the joints and after pressing the pieces together firmly, clean up any excess glue that may come out with a damp rag.

Now add the sides one by one until they are all in place and then clamp the box in both directions.

Now glue in the splines.

Allow this to dry for a few hours before doing anything else to it. (over night if possible)


Flush Cut and Sand

Now that the glue has dried, you will want to flush cut the splines. They should be sticking out by a mil or so.

Once they are all cut flush to the sides of the box it is time to sand. Start with 150 grit and work your way through to 220, 400, and even 600 if you want it really smooth.

Another step you can take is to use a bit of scotch brite pad on the end of a rotary tool to buff the wood and give it a bit more of a shine.



Finally, you are ready to finish the box and give it that last touch. I chose to use a Salad Bowl Oil (tung oil) and some more buffing at the end seeing that it was going to hold tea for me and I wanted it to be food safe.

Be sure to choose the finish that is right for your needs and what the box will be used for.


Bob Jewell
A great tool for squaring the inside corners is a 'corner chisel'. Available from your local woodworking supply store for around $20. Much quicker and more accurate than trying to do it by hand.
Bob Jewell
Jeremy Richards
Nice tip Bob. Thanks! I just used the bottom insert as a squaring guide as it was known to be square and sit flush with the sides of the box.
Jeremy Richards
Fred W Sager
beautiful box. what was you approx cut time?
Fred W Sager
Troy King
This is a beautiful piece!! Thanks for sharing. Do you know what the inner dimensions of the box were for reference? Thanks.
Troy King
Thanks Troy! The inner dimensions are 60mm square by 80mm deep, but that might vary depending on the thickness of the material being used… what’s nice is it is pretty easy using this project to set your own dimensions in Easel.
Jeremy Richards
Thanks Troy! The inner dimensions are 60mm square by 80mm deep, but that might vary depending on the thickness of the material being used… what’s nice is it is pretty easy using this project to set your own dimensions in Easel.
Jeremy Richards