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Hive Box Construction

2435 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  RLBrooks
I like the pdf plans for the box joint hive boxes posted on here, but I have a question. The plan calls for double blind stops for the frame rest rabbet and says to chisel out the rounded part at each end so the 3/4" piece of wood remains. This is to give more material thru which to place a fastener into the intersecting hive side piece. Discussions on here have asked why not rabbet all the way thru instead of using blind stops and just reverse the pin/notch order on the sides and fronts. The answer is always that the joint will be weaker when prying frames away from that "floating pin." I just can't see that 3/4" little ***** of wood has any strength much anyway. When I chisel out the round part, that little 3/4" piece will chip out many times during the process anyway, demonstrating its weakness. Am I missing something here? It still seems to me that the pin reversal and full rabbet frame rest would be just as strong if glued and nailed properly. I am wondering if the Titebond II is not going to hold that floating pin, along with a 1 1/2" staple into the 3/8" remaining stock of the frame rest.

Just a serious question from a former cabinet maker who is not connecting the dots on this.


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I don't worry so much about making the joints with finger joints, but instead use rabbets. The thinner area, where the rabbet has been cut to accommodate the frames, is certainly the weakest part of any super. Personally I have adjusted my super making plans accordingly. I do not cut any handholds in the sides of otherwise, perfectly good, super wall boards, and I attach cleats to the top ends of all supers, this reinforces the weakest part of any super (the frame rest rabbet), and provides excellent grips for handling supers. This only requires covers that are compatible with the extra length the cleats add to the top surface of each super.
... I attach cleats to the top ends of all supers, this reinforces the weakest part of any super (the frame rest rabbet), and provides excellent grips for handling supers. This only requires covers that are compatible with the extra length the cleats add to the top surface of each super.
I have thought of doing that same exact thing, Joseph. So if you put the handhold cleats flush with the top of the super fronts, it strengthens those rabbeted frame rests, right? Then if I wanted to use a non-telescoping, flat plywood cover with not cleats on it, I could make the covers the same size as the super.

I made some rabbeted hives a few years ago and they were a lot easier than the box joints for sure. But some of mine cupped and pulled loose at the very top, at the the frame rest. I am making box joints right now and hate the time it takes. I've read where some of the guys are just using butt joints and say they are holding up well. That sure would be a lot quicker.

It reinforces the frame rest rabbet, extremely well. I use mostly flat covers, or flat covers with a bee space rim. It also allows for sliding the cover, back a little, to create an upper entrance, if desired.

I've made supers with many different joints. My favorite are done using 45 degree locking miter bit joints, cut with a router bit. It makes a square/clean joint, without visible end grain, automatically aligns and holds very well. Biggest problem is that it is difficult to accomplish consistent accuracy without a nice power-feed attachment (which I don't have, yet). I have no doubt that butt joints would likely work just fine, but you're then limited to having the super ends inset between the super sides, and alignment for square is a little more problematic. I like the rabbets to be cut in the end pieces, so the sides can be glued and clamped into position, and the cuts hold them square, until they are stapled and the Titebond III glue sets. Coated deck screws seem to be the most durable fasteners, even better than staples, but they are more expensive and take more time to install correctly.
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I would let your background trump the option.
I use lap joints and if I had my time to go over, I would make the end walls of my brood boxes out of 2X (1 1/2") lumber. That would give a much stronger frame rest and also still have 3/4 to 7/8" of wood with the handle cut out. Supers could still be made using standard 1x lumber. They would just sit short of the front and rear edge which would not matter at all, that I can figure.

There is not a whole lot of difference in price between a 1x8 and a 2x8 southern yellow pine. A 2x12 could be used to cut the fronts and backs, or 2, 2x6's. I use 3, 1x8x12 boards to make 4 deeps. I use 1x8's because they don't cost much more than a 1x6 and I always need strips to make tops or bottom boards with. I rip, joint, biscuit, glue and clamp a full board and a 2 1/2" ripped off another board to make the 9 5/8 bodies. Once I glue them up, I rip them to the final length once each piece is cut to length. The only dressed lumber that I can buy that is a 1x12 is spruce and I don't think spruce will hold up well.
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Brad, that certainly sounds like a strong construction, but those brood boxes might be pretty heavy for me. I'm down sizing to all 8 frame mediums right now to get away from heavy lifting since my back is getting a little cranky with me in my golden years. I am using cypress for my new supers to see if they last better than the pine I've used in the past. I got a good deal on some rough sawn cypress and I have a planer to dress it down to the right thickness, so I'm pretty happy with that lumber so far. It may take a few years to know if it's as good as people say it is.
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