Matt Kenney is a professional furniture maker in Northwest Connecticut that has written dozens of articles and two books about the craft he loves. His first book, 52 Boxes in 52 Weeks (Taunton Press), is about his successful attempt to make one box a week over the course of a year. The second book, The Art of Kumiko (Blue Hills Press), is an introduction the fundamentals of the intericate and beautiful decorative patterns of Japanese kumiko. When he isn’t in the shop or writing, he travels through the the US and overseas teaching others how to make furniture. You can keep up with what he’s making in the shop and where’s he’s teaching on Instagram (@mekwoodworks).
Fundamentals of box-making, 4 hours
Boxes are not difficult to make, but they are challenging to make well. I’ll walk through my entire process, from selecting lumber to applying a finish. Along the way, I’ll demonstrate how to create a grain match at all four corners, so that it runs seamlessly around the box, and how to cut clean, tight miter joints. I’ll then show how I make box bottoms and lids. After showing how to glue up a mitered box with blue tape, I’ll go over surface preparation and finishing. It will be a brisk walk, but along the way you’ll see everything there is to see about how I make the vast majority of my boxes.
Build a box with a liner, 2 hours
There are many ways to top a box. The technique I use the second most involves gluing a top panel into a rabbet after gluing the box sides together, and then cutting the lid free from the box. I’ll show you how I do this at the bandsaw, and then clean up the rough edges. After the lid is free, a thin liner is fit inside the box. It sticks just above the top edge of the box body, and the lid fits over it, and that’s how it stays in place. It’s important that the liner fit well in the box. I’ll demonstrate how I get a clean, tight fit.
How to cut compound miters, 2 hours
I like to make boxes with sides that angle inward. Even a slight slope makes miter joints more challenging, but when I was making 52 boxes during the course of a year, I figured out a technique that makes compound miters unbelievably simple. The key is to use a wedge under the box sides when cutting the miters. The wedges are also used when cutting rabbets for the box top and bottom. I’ll demonstrate this technique for compound miters.