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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Richmond, VA UNITED STATES
    Posts
    163

    Default Finger Joint vs. Rabbet?

    As a cabinetmaker/woodworker, I've made a lot of my own equipment. I have dovetail and fingerjoint jigs, but was thinking about why we use fingerjoints or box joints in the hive bodies. I think it comes down to the glue and tradition.

    Since the Langstroth hive is mostly unchanged for over 100 years, and because screws were extremely expensive at the time (nails as well) I think that the box joint required little metal. Also, since the glues were mainly hide glue, the joint needed to be more mechanical.

    These days, we have a wide variety of water resistant and water proof glues. I think a rabbet joint would work just as well (though maybe not haveing the same tangental strength) as a finger joint in most hive bodies used for non-commercial use.

    Side by side, I have a feeling that a rabbet joint with Titebond IIII or polyurethane glue would last just as long as a fingerjointed box. Any thoughts?

    Rob
    www.mongrelbees.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    2,358

    Default Re: Finger Joint vs. Rabbet?

    Butt joints using Titebond III and galvanized screws will work just fine.
    President, San Francisco Beekeepers Association
    www.habitatforhoneybees.org

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,788

    Default Re: Finger Joint vs. Rabbet?

    Reason for box joints in modern bee equipment is they very nearly square themselves, and commercial companies by and large sell them unassembled.

    Any joint, including the butt joint, where good wood is used, some decent preservative is used, and assembled with good glue, will outlast the beekeeper and all his relatives.

    cchoganjr

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,318

    Default Re: Finger Joint vs. Rabbet?

    When I make my own I mostly use single or sometimes double rabbet joints, using Titebond III and a few coated deck screws. They have all remained as strong as when I first made them, now several years later. I also obtained a lock miter router bit, and made a few supers using that joint (zero exposed end grain), those have also remained in excellent condition, using only Titebond III and no fasteners - an excellent joint, but a little more trouble than the simpler rabbet joint.

    I do like the simplicity of the rabbet joint. Simply cut three rabbets into each end piece, one for the frame rest and the others to accept the sides, then glue; clamp; and screw them together. The cuts can be done on a table saw or radial arm saw, with or without a dado blade set, or even with a router or table mounted router.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Fairbanks, Alaska
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Finger Joint vs. Rabbet?

    There is a good discussion of this topic at:
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ve-box-quality

    I'm not a woodworker:
    From my totally ignorant perspective, what stands out most is that modern adhesives have created a significant paradigm shift. Apparently "all bets are off" when it comes to conventional wisdom regarding joint design.
    rB

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    669

    Default Re: Finger Joint vs. Rabbet?

    Four of my hives got hit hard by someone in a pickup, all were double deep with medium honey supers. Had a few deeps full of honey and some mediums that were full, all hit the ground, all were rabbeted, all survived. The hive body on the corner of the pallet that took the impact has a big dent/gouge in it but it's still square, so the colony is going to overwinter in it and in the spring ill hit the rough spot with paint. All my hives are put together with titebond 3 and 1 1/4" galvanized staples. The important thing is to keep the hive bodies square during assembly.
    Zone 5a @ 4700 ft. High Desert
    Facebook

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,176

    Default Re: Finger Joint vs. Rabbet?

    Are folks using screws now instead of nails? If so why, and what type? Whenever I try and screw two pieces of wood together it is as though they try to push themselves apart. I feel that I am missing something elementary. I build using the rabbet joints as Joseph described, titebond II and nails. Also, the best innovation so far - ODFrank cleats, which are cleats with 15 degree angles cut into them; This makes gripping the boxes incredibly easy.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,318

    Default Re: Finger Joint vs. Rabbet?

    The secret to easy screwing, is to glue, clamp the pieces together, then drill pilot holes for the screws before driving them in. If you have a jig that holds the super tightly together and squarely, that would be sweet. I've seen simple ones and fancy ones, I look forward to the day when I'll have one of my own.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Big Rapids, MI
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Finger Joint vs. Rabbet?

    I bought some equipment from a guy whose dad was a beekeeper in the 70's, the equipement was well used before being stored in a barn for the last 30 years. The deeps are 1/2 and 1/2 rabbet joint and box joint but almost all the mediums and shallows are rabbet joint. they are all still very strong and seem to still be square. when placed on their corners and applied pressure they both seem to hold up the same (just hand pressure and feel, no scientific testing ). Any equipment I build I use the rabbet joint method, seems to hold up just as well, doesn't require any special tooling and much faster to produce.

    Just my opinion for whats it worth!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,512

    Default Re: Finger Joint vs. Rabbet?

    I use the TBIII glue with a rabbet joint. Glue, assemble and fasten with some galvanized finish nails with my finish gun.
    I do use a carpenters square just to be sure. 90% of the time they are square.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Scott, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    148

    Default Re: Finger Joint vs. Rabbet?

    Has anyone tried pocket hole screw on hives?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,487

    Default Re: Finger Joint vs. Rabbet?

    With modern adhesives, rabbet joints are probably nearly as strong as box joints, especially if a double one. However, if that adhesive fails, all that's transferring force from one side to the other --when you pry a corner loose, for instance -- is the mechanical device (nails, screws, etc). I don't know how well Titebond II will hold up in 30 years, and no one else does either (it's not been around that long, has it? Certainly Titebond III has not).

    Box joints interlace, and any force applied to one side of the box is transferred to the other sides by the material the box is made of. It is inherently stronger, but modern adhesives negate much of that difference. Certainly before the advent of urea-formaldehyde glues in the 30's, dry nailed box joints were MUCH stronger than butt or rabbet joints -- hide glue is of zero value in wood exposed to the elements as it gets eaten by fungus when wet.

    I prefer box joints, but rabbet joints will work just fine as well, other than being more time consuming to assemble and requiring much more accurate cutting to get a box to end up prefectly square. Luckily, bees don't check and don't seem to have much to say about perfect fit.

    I did see a bee carefully gluing up the cracks between boxes on one hive today. Not much of a crack, either, but she was quite busy adding propolis.

    Peter

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