Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?
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  1. #1
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    Default Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    It seems to be the "traditional" way of doing things. And I see how it makes it somewhat Ikea-like to flatpack and ship hives if they are cut that way. But other than that, any reason why a simple rabbet, staples, and glue; or splines and glue... pocket holes... etc. Are any less valid? Certainly in the 1800's if you were building something from wood, especially a box, you were either doing some sort of box joint, dovetail or clench nails. But is it simply done that way because it was always done that way, or is there some other benefit of which I am unaware?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    Finger joints are by their nature a stronger joint. I make my equipment with rabbeted joints and plenty of glue and nails. They are holding up just as well as the purchased boxes.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
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    Southern, New Hampshire, USA
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    I'm a furniture maker by trade, so joinery is my bread and butter. There are many ways to make a box, and they will often all work. The thing with the box joint in this case is like the belt and suspenders approach. A rabbeted box is relying mostly on fasteners and a tiny bit on glue (as endgrain to long grain joints are not a good glue joint). But they are plenty strong. However there is a chance of it coming apart moreso than a box joint.

    A box joint provides a lot of good glue surface (long grain to long grain) has a mechanical advantage of the fingers holding each other. As well as fasteners if you use them (nails or screws) so the joint is super strong and not relying on any one thing. If you want a box that will really last a long long time you can't go wrong with a box joint.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    Box joints are a pain in the rear to assemble, Rabbet joints are a breeze to make and to assemble and you can also cross staple the sides to the front and back and you can even use Advantech for the front and back panels of the boxes.

  6. #5
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    Default

    It's my understanding that woodenware is sold with box joints because that is the tooling that's been used for years and the manufacturers of bee woodenware are tooled up for box joints only. I personally feel like box joints are a very good method of joinery.
    "Challenger" as in the Mopar muscle car. Not a personality description .
    Keeping bees to raise money for chordoma.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    I use a simple butt joint with glue and screws. Only 4 years into beekeeping but have not had the slightest trouble. Nice, solid, square boxes with zero flex. I like the fact that the boards are solid pieces, less surface area to rot, and fewer projections to break, split or rot. I don't have any fancy tools to craft more complex joints, and I refuse to buy boxes.

    The exposed end grain has to be treated to prevent moisture infiltrating, but that's easy.

  8. #7
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    Spokane County, Washington, USA
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    I have equipment with box joints and with rabbet joints. The box joints so far are holding up better for me. The rabbet joints are more affected by the wood "cupping" with changes in moisture.

    YMMV
    So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    Box joints rot out faster because as they swell and shrink in wet and dry times, cracks open and allow water into the seams

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    Less exposed end grain in rabbet joints and faster to cut.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by bushpilot View Post
    I have equipment with box joints and with rabbet joints. The box joints so far are holding up better for me. The rabbet joints are more affected by the wood "cupping" with changes in moisture.

    YMMV
    Where I have observed tops splaying out it is always been associated with wrong grain orientation. Dont put the heart side of the boards to the inside. "Dont Put Your Heart in a Box of Pine!"

    Rabbeted joints are a bit more forgiving to cut and assemble if your wood is not kiln dried and nicely flat. Quality dado blades that cut smooth notches with flat bottoms are expensive and do not work on many homeowner table saws.

    I would bet my money on Titus142 claim about strength but for entry level equipment and joinery skills the rabbeted joint is more feasable. I have made both and like the appearance of the box joint but the rabbeted design gets the nod from me.

    As to weathering longevity; dont know, but then I am getting to the age that I am not bothering to creosote my fence posts either.
    Frank

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    We have deeps in service from the 1940's.(hand holds are made with a Delta tool used in a table saw) When I pick one of them up, I can tell if it is a box joint or not. The Rabbet boxes are ussually loose, where the box joints are still solid.

    Crazy Roland

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    A rabbet joint is entirely dependent on the glue and fasteners in all directions. It provides mechanical alignment of the boards perpendicular to the cut direction but not parallel to it. The joint itself provides no mechanical strength. The interlocking fingers of the box joint provide both alignment and the mechanical strength to handle loads on the joint. Glue and fasteners keep the box joint fingers together but the mechanical strength comes from the joinery. You can intuitively understand this with a thought experiment. Imagine that you assembled a box with each kind of joint on your work bench surface with no glue or fasteners, with the joints fit together dry. Now imagine that you picked up the dry assembled box using the box handles on opposite ends. What happens when you would pick up the two ends with a rabbet joint? What happens when you would pick up the two ends with a box joint? That is the difference. What if you could only apply glue to 1/2 inch of each joint? Which joint do you want then?
    The thought experiment makes the mechanical advantage of the box joint fairly obvious. What it doesn't tell us is how the joints perform with fasteners and modern adhesives. The old gray mare just didn't render as good a glue as a modern PVA adhesive does. Modern PVAs are stronger than the wood. If you use 2" deck screws (not a drywall screw) into pre-drilled proper sized pilot holes then you've got a solid mechanical joint as well.

    I make my bee boxes using a box joint because I have a super easy dedicated jig to make them. Setting up a dado blade to cut a 3/4" x 3/8" rabbet would take more time than using my box joint jig.
    Zone 6B

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    I dont dado the rabbet on the end boards. I use two intersecting saw cuts to take out the material. It does take resetting the depth differently for the frame rest. The long side boards only need cut to length. A person has to pay well over $100.00 for a decent dado blade. No question the box joint is stronger if they are going to get thrown around.
    Frank

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    Frank, like you, I cut the rabbet on the end boards with intesecting saw cuts and find that with a set of gauging blocks it only takes a minute or two to get it perfect.

    Unlike you, I still buy green banannas.
    But, I no longer buy trees.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    I've built half a dozen or so deeps using box joints, but I probably won't again. I enjoy woodworking, but lumber costs (even from a local lumber yard) & the time involved have all but convinced me that I'm better off just buying boxes from my bee supply store.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Frank, like you, I cut the rabbet on the end boards with intesecting saw cuts and find that with a set of gauging blocks it only takes a minute or two to get it perfect.

    Unlike you, I still buy green banannas.
    But, I no longer buy trees.
    I should have taken the time to make spacer blocks but at the times I need them I cant take the time to do it!
    Frank

  18. #17

    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    All of my hives have rabbet joints. I didn’t intentionally choose this. It just happened to be the way my preferred equipment supplier cut them.
    My only point in this thread is in regard to strength. In twenty years with hundreds of deeps, mediums and shallows, I’ve never had a corner joint fail. If a box joint is actually stronger….it doesn’t matter in practice.
    Just my experience.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    To tell the truth, I have had one of my rabbet jointboxes fail when I dropped it with a full load of capped honey frames onto a corner, it was bent out of square some so when I removed the capped honey I put 6 screws in each end and that medium box is still out there somewhere.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    Beemandan: That is what I would expect after 20 years. The superiority of the box joint does not show that soon.

    Crazy Roland

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Any reason to actually use "box joints" other than aesthetics?

    I built 10- 5 over 5 frame nucs with butt joints 19 years ago and they look as good as the day I built them. Most of the box joints on purchased hive bodies are cracking, splitting, and a few are rotting out. All the boxes got the same brand/color and quality paint.

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