Many readers of “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” are naughty and skip the first project in the book: building a packing box.
The packing box is a fantastic little project because it teaches you some things about handwork that are infrequently discussed, including how to make a square box without shooting the ends of every board before assembly. Oh, and clinching nails.
It is an introduction to mindset of handwork.
So as punishment for not building the packing box, I am uploading an entire chapter from “The Practical Woodworker, Vol. 1” (Waverly Book Co.) on building boxes and packing crates. It’s interesting reading and discusses the many methods for building things with simple nail joinery that have to withstand rough use. I recommend you look it over before you start making those secret mitered dovetails you’ve been considering.
By the by, “The Practical Woodworker” is a four-volume set of English woodworking books edited by Bernard E. Jones and written by a panel of experts in the field of woodwork. If you ever stumble on some copies for sale, I recommend them over the poorly scanned and printed version from 10 Speed Press, which edited down the four volumes into something less than magnificent.
Download the pdf here and get nailing. Don’t make me sic Megan on you.
— Christopher Schwarz