Scroll Saw Joinery

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Scroll Saw Joinery

Cut classic dovetails using only a scroll saw

Dovetails, dovetail keys, box joints, and box joint keys have been used as functional as well as decorative ways of joining wood for a long time. But in the past, you had to cut them by hand, on a band saw, a table saw, a router table, or using a special jig. 

This project presents wood joints cut on a scroll saw for a jewelry box. The wooden hinges are also cut on the scroll saw.

The actual wood joints at the corners are 45° beveled wood joints; the dovetails are mostly for decoration. You can practice making sample wood joints and hinges on your scroll saw using small quantities of wood before making the jewelry box. 

Attach them to the wood using the glue stick. Use a #5 blade and follow the pattern directions to cut out the waste, splitting pattern lines on one side of the joint, leaving the lines on the other side as marked on the pattern. To split the line, cut directly on the line. To leave the line, cut just inside the line in the waste section. At this time, also cut out the slots for the hinges where indicated on the pattern (if using wooden hinges).

Scroll Saw Joinery

Step 1: Make copies of the pattern—one copy each of the front and back pattern and two copies of the side pattern.

Step 2: Dry fit the joint. If it’s too tight, shave off a little bit with the scroll saw. Some joints, particularly dovetails, will need to be forced together using a hammer and block of wood after they are glued.

This project is courtesy of Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts Magazine.

Scroll Saw Joinery

Dovetails are used to join contrasting woods in this easy-to-make jewelry box. The patterned lid details and all-wood hinges add to the box’s appeal. 

Step 3: Glue up the joint. Use a toothpick to glue up the joint, gluing over a sheet of newspaper to protect your workbench. 

Step 4: Remove the patterns after the glue dries. Sand the box sides lightly to remove the glue and newspaper.

Step 5: Make the corner joints. Cut the 45° joints on the table saw. Cut the miter exactly where marked on the pattern to keep your dimensions accurate.

Scroll Saw Joinery

Step 6: Cut the slot for the box’s bottom. Set the table saw to cut a 1/8" deep cut. Then cut the slot where indicated on the pattern. It is a good idea to clamp the wood down to make this cut! Cut one slot on each side of the box. Then move the box 1/8" to the side and make another cut on all four sides to make a slot thick enough for the 1/4"-thick plywood bottom.

Step 7: Cut out the bottom of the box. Glue the pattern for the bottom to the 1/4" plywood and cut out using a #5 blade. 

Test fit to make sure the bottom fits tightly in the box. 

Step 8: Glue up the box. This may take two people since you have to hold the bottom of the box in place while you glue up the sides. Lay the four box parts side by side with the outside of the box facing up. Run a strip of tape the length of the four.

Apply glue to the miters and the box bottom edges. Place the bottom into the slot on the third side of the box and roll the box up. Make sure the bottom goes into the appropriate slots and tape the final miter closed. Check to make sure that the joints are square and wrap a few more pieces of tape around the box to hold it in place. Allow the glue to dry for 10 minutes, then clean up any glue that squeezed out using a screwdriver. 

This project is courtesy of Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts Magazine. 

Step 9: Cut the wood for the box lid. Apply double-sided adhesive to the walnut blank for the box lid. Attach the poplar blank for the box lid. Cover both pieces with clear packaging tape. Attach the pattern for the box lid to the poplar blank with the glue stick. Start each cut at the edge of the blanks using the #5 blade and back the blade out when finished. Do not make any turn cuts! Sand off any burrs with the 220-grit sandpaper—be careful not to round any edges over!

Scroll Saw Joinery

Step 10: Glue up the box lid. Separate the eight pieces keeping the number orientation the same as your pattern copy. 

Swap poplar for walnut on pieces 2, 4, 5, and 7. Dry fit the two lids. On a flat work surface using a single sheet of newspaper, glue both lids with woodworker’s glue. Hold each glued piece about 30 seconds and wipe away excess glue. Allow glue to dry for eight hours. 

Step 11: Sand the lid. Use 220-grit sandpaper to sand the glue and newspaper off the lid. If necessary, square up the lid on the table saw.

Scroll Saw Joinery

Step 12: Cut out the lid edges. Make one copy of the lid edge front pattern, one copy of the lid edge back pattern and two copies of the lid edge side patterns and attach to the poplar using the glue stick. Cut using the #5 blade.

Step 13: Glue the lid edges to the lid. Apply wood glue to the edges of the box lid and clamp the four sides to the lid. Remove the glue squeeze out and let the glue dry. Sand off any extra glue and slightly round off all the corners. 

Step 14: Glue the hinges onto the lid and box. Start by trimming the excess of the hinges so they fit exactly in the slots. Then glue the hinges to the lid. Wait two hours and glue the hinges and lid to the box.

This project is courtesy of Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts Magazine.

Scroll Saw Joinery

Step 15: Apply the finish of your choice to the box. I used an oil finish which accented the grain and the contrasting colors of the wood. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for best results. 

Step 16: Add the optional lining for the jewelry box compartment. Place an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet of poster board on a sheet of newspaper. Cover one side with wood glue and apply a piece of felt or velvet to the poster board. Be sure to press the fabric tight and remove all air bubbles. Place another sheet of newspaper on top of the fabric and weight the whole thing down. Allow the glue to dry overnight. Then cut the poster board to fit inside the box tightly.


  • 1/4" x 4" x 6" poplar (box lid) 
  • 1/4" x 4" x 6" walnut (box lid) 
  •  1/4" x 1/2" x 22" poplar (lid edges)
  • 1/4" x 41/4" x 61/4" plywood (box bottom) 
  • 1/4" x 25" x 21/2" poplar (box sides and test wood joint) 
  • 1/4" x 17" x 21/2" walnut (box corners and test wood joint) 
  • 1/2" x 1" x 8" poplar (hinges, includes test cut)
  • 1/8" x 3" wooden dowel (hinge pins) 
  • Double sided tape 
  • Elmer’s glue stick 
  • Woodworker’s glue 
  • Old newspaper 
  • Masking tape 
  • Clear packaging tape 
  • Clear finish of choice 
  • 8-1/2" x 11" poster board (optional) 
  • 8-1/2" x 11" felt or velvet (optional) 
  • Toothpicks 



  •  # 5 reverse tooth blade 
  • Drill with 1/8" and 9/64"- diameter twist drills 
  • 2 clamps (either screw or quick grip clamps) 
  • Square 
  • Pencil 
  • Table saw with shooting board (plan on SSW website) 
  •  Sandpaper, 220 grit 
  • Scissors 
  • Flat blade screwdriver 
  • Detail sander 
  • Palm, orbital, or belt sander
Scroll Saw Joinery

Cutting sharp corners for dovetails and hinges

Start at the edge of the blank and cut along the line in to the end line of the dovetail. Start in the center of the waste and cut in an arch into one corner of the dovetail. Repeat the same procedure for the other side. Then, cut along the end line from corner to corner to remove the rest of the waste.

This project is courtesy of Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts Magazine.

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