The first thing I did for our bullet box was to glue the panel for the bottom.  This way the glue could cure while I was cutting the rest of the joinery.  Notice that the grain runs along the short axis.  This can be good or bad depending on the application.  For the bottom of a box it’s a good thing, as it is stronger than the other way round.  However, it’s a bad thing for the top of a table as wood expands across its width, thus exaggerating seasonal movement.  As with most things (not just in woodworking!) the proper answer is: “it depends”.


Next, I start on the dovetails.  I’m making sure to accommodate the sliding lid by putting the tails on the short ends, and adjusting my pins.  In this case, I’ve shifted the “front” end (where the lid will slide out) down about 1/8″, then re-proportioned the tails slightly so that it looks harmonious.


When all the sides fit to my satisfaction, I go ahead and use my little Record 043 to cut the grooves for the bottom and the lid.  Before I do this, I make doubly sure that the top edges are all in alignment.  Since I have to register the plane’s fence on the top edge to groove for the lid (instead of the reference, bottom edge), if the top edges are off, so will the fit for the lid.  In an open box I usually leave it until almost last, but in this case we need to make sure to do it now.


By the time I’d gotten to this point, the glue on the bottom panel had cured, so I cut it to size and fit it to the grooves.  While a set of inside calipers can help with this, there really is no way to get around the fact that there’s a lot of irritating fusswork that needs to go into this.  But perseverance will eventually win out.