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Author Topic: Finger Joints  (Read 5522 times)
drgenegarris
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« on: May 24, 2005, 10:06:19 AM »

Has anyone here made boxes with small finger joints.  I was looking at an old replica  wooden ammunition box and it has small finger joints.  I know that this would drastically increace the surface area for glue and I am wondering if anyone has done it here.
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2005, 10:21:16 AM »

I do them 3/4 inch. That is enough work in itself. And I don't think they will come apart with out breaking wood.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2005, 11:49:44 AM »

I usually do butt joints with glue and deck screws and the last just fine.  Sometimes I get more motivated and do a rabbet joint.  I've never even tried to cut finger joints, let alone, really small finger joints.  IMO it's a beehive, not a piano. Smiley
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2005, 12:22:52 PM »

I always get mixed up on what joint is what. Figure joint is just the simple square notchs right?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2005, 02:19:33 PM »

Basically, yes.  Although some people mistakenly call it a dovetail.  A dovetail is shaped like a dove's tail.  Smiley
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Michael Bush
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leominsterbeeman
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« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2005, 01:43:32 PM »

So a Dovetail joint looks like a dove's tail.

\__/

A finger joint looks like fingers.  Isn't that also a box joint?

  |__|

So what does a butt joint look like?

   ))   wink
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2005, 05:12:26 PM »

Correct.  Yes it's sometimes called a box joint.  A butt joint looks like this
_
|
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Michael Bush
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Romahawk
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2005, 07:09:59 PM »

I was just watching a tape on beekeeping on RFD TV and I noticed that the hives being assembled were box or butt joints. Looks so much easier to make than the other methods of joining I have looked at.

My question is the two side cuts with the dado blade look to be 3/4 in. as the side pieces of the box seem to fit flush with the end pieces. Is the frame rest made at the same time with the 3/4 inch setting by zipping around the board or is the dado blade reset and a second cut made for the frame rest. I've seen different dimensions for the frame rest cut, 3/4, 5/8, 1/2. Does it really matter that much or can I just zip a 3/4 inch cut right around the three sides?
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2005, 09:30:31 PM »

My technique is to use a table mounted router. I use a 3/8" diameter cutter set 3/4" high. I clamp a hardwood board as a rear guide as a backing for the blade.

After cutting the 4 sides of the super to length on the table saw, front and back will be put through the router table on top edge for frame rabbet, side rabbets to house the sides. Each side piece is cut 3/4" longer to account for both 3/8" rabbets (one on either side).

I then glue (polyurethane), clamp (check for square and adjust), and after drilling pilot holes I use deck screws. These joints have never failed me yet.
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2005, 09:41:00 PM »

OK thanks, I was hoping I could leave the dado head set at 3/4, makes it so much easier. I'm sort of a 5 fingered klutz when it comes to setting things up on a saw.  embarassed
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2005, 09:50:41 PM »

Since you plan to use a dado blade on a table saw it should be easier for your top rabbet to be 3/8" deep, just like the side rabbets, but if you're a stickler for the standard measurements it should be 1/8" less than 3/4" or 5/8". I leave mine at 3/4" because I use the raised metal frame-rest inserts and leave my bee-space on the bottom of all my supers (my frames are flush with the top edge of my supers.
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Joseph Clemens
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Jon McFadden
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« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2005, 11:06:10 PM »

I use the box joint because the hive body won't rack over time. Making a proper fixture for making these joints is illustrated here:
http://nordykebeefarm.com/forum/forum_topics.asp?FID=6
You will notice the notch for the frame rest overlaps the sides to give maximum support. I use metal frame rests to raise the frame up and reduce the contact surface.

Finger joints are typically used on smaller boxes and look quite elegant. The number of cuts to make them on a hive body would be excessive. I have wooden ammunition boxes from WWII that have these joints. I expect they were manufactured using gang blades.

I bought a blind dovetail fixture and tried these for a time. The main attraction here was the novelty. The only real problem with these is the setup time and having to remember a different set of dimensions.

Rabbet joints are ok. They provide less glue surface than box joints, but if the glue joint fails, there isn't much strength left.

Butt joints are formed by pushing two pieces of wood (butting them) together and fastening them. This is the least desireable of the joints.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2005, 10:07:52 AM »

>Butt joints are formed by pushing two pieces of wood (butting them) together and fastening them. This is the least desireable of the joints.

Least desirable?  It will save 3 linear inches of wood that is wasted with box joints.  If glued with exterior glue and screwed with deck screws it will last as long as any other joint.  It's easy to do.  I'd say that's quite a few pluses.

A box joint has the same amount of exposed end grain as the butt joint.

Smiley
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Michael Bush
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Romahawk
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« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2005, 02:22:44 PM »

Well after trying both methods of joining using a dado I think I do prefer the butt joint. I like the idea that I can zip around the end piece with a 3/4 inch cut and don't have to change tools, positions of the board, or settings. The first few boxes I'll be using the plastic on the frame rest instead of metal. The small difference in height between the metal and plastic shouldn't make the bee space off enough to be objectionable should it?
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2005, 05:12:38 PM »

Actually that isn't a butt joint, rather a rabbet joint. It's the one I use most often, though I use a router to make the cuts instead of a dado blade on a table or radial arm saw. With butt joint the only cuts would be the rabbet for the frames to rest on and cutting the boards to length.
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Joseph Clemens
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No chemicals -- no treatments of any kind, EVER.
Romahawk
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« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2005, 05:36:55 PM »

Well there goes my claim to fame as a master wood worker.  At least I now know what kind of cut I'm using and a rabbit sounds better than a butt cut. Cheesy
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2005, 05:51:16 PM »

A rabbet joint has half as much exposed end grain as a box joint.  Smiley
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Michael Bush
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eashurst
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« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2005, 06:30:53 PM »

I've been a woodworker longer than I've been a beekeeper.  I was on the board of directors of the No. TX Woodworker's Assoc. for several years, and was president for 3.  Some people scoff at biscuits, but with waterproof glue they turn a butt joint into a strong joint that will last many years.  The finger joint is traditional, but really is a bit of overkill.  It comes from the days when there were no truly waterproof glues available so the joint had to hold the wood almost by itself.  A nail was added to keep it from pulling apart, but the joint itself kept the hive from flexing.

I use pine for my hives because it is cheap and will last fine as long as it's painted everywhere the sun shines.  For flat wood I use 2 or 3 biscuits per joint to make sure the ends will be held down tight, but most pine is somewhat warped.  On warped wood I join the wood so that a single biscuit at the center will hold the cup flat, ensuring a tight joint all along the corner.  It has to be clamped until the glue is set, but that joint isn't going to break anytime soon.  The joint is rigid and will stay that way until the wood itself fails.  I usually put some nails in the joint too, but mostly because I love Smiley shooting nails with my air-powered nailgun.

Any wood will rot if it is regularly wet or exposed to UV, regardless of the kind of joint you use, although some woods are fairly tolerant of those damaging factors - notably cedar, beau d'arc (aka osage orange), and cypress.  Those woods will last longer than hives made from other woods.  But even so, regular painting of the exposed surfaces will make a bigger difference in how long the hive lasts than the kind of joint you use.   Stain will prevent water damage, but gives relatively little UV protection, so that's why paint is best.

Meanwhile, you can joint a truckful of hives with biscuits in the time it takes to cut a very few hives with finger joints, and you have the same result.  As Michael said, with finger joints you are cutting away 3 linear inches of lumber per hive to make the joints.  That wood all goes into sawdust.  With a biscuited butt joint you only turn a tiny amount of wood into sawdust.  And that's a good thing!  wink

BTW, cedar is not favored for bees because it is reputed to be insect repellant, but I am currently trying to remove a feral colony that chose a cavity in a live cedar tree for their home.  The bees don't seem to mind the cedar at all, and I don't think they would mind a hive made from it either.  They'd soon have it propolized anyway.
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manowar422
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« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2005, 07:41:01 PM »

The first two deep hive bodies I bought, were pre-cut select
grade white pine with finger joints. They will be cut down to
mediums after this season and regulated to honey super duty
until they rot cheesy

Since deciding to go with all medium size boxes,
[Thanks Michael Bush] I've bought only cypress wood from
Rossman Apiaries, I don't intend to ever have more than
4-5 hives so the cost is of no concern.

They sell them with a standard rabbet joint cut into the short
sides of the box.

I glue them with liberal amounts of Titebond III
[waterproof wood glue] and place 8 corner clamps on them until dry.

Then I pre-drill and countersink twelve 1-3/4" flat phillips zinc
plated screws.

I'm really happy with the quality and would highly recommend them.
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Jon McFadden
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« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2005, 01:28:39 AM »

My hives are mostly made from scrap material. I don't have a problem with loosing a little wood. I seldom find pieces that are close to the correct length, so three inches isn't a big deal. My sorting process goes something like this.
deep side (1x12x20)
medium side (1x8x20)
deep front (1x12x16-1/4)
medium front (1x8x16-1/4)
top bar (1x1-1/16x19)
bottom bar (3/8x3/4x17)
I don't use glue, but I do use 1-1/2" or 2" phosphate coated screws. When I am through making a box, I'm through.  No clamping up. If the wood I work with is cupped, the box joint flattens it out permanently.
I have tried butt joints, but didn't like the service life. I have tried rabbeted joints, but care must be taken when clamping up and again, I didn't like the service life.
I am not a woodworker. I have found a system that works for me and the person that taught me.
Jon
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