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I am building a silverware box out of walnut and would like to make the bottom (also walnut) sit flush with the sides. Any suggestions...? Was thinking of a dado in sides and rabbet in bottom - sides are 1/2 inch and I can make the bottom 1/2 inch also.

I'm worried about wood movement if I glue in the bottom, any suggestions appreciated. Thanks.

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Was thinking of a dado in sides and rabbet in bottom

Yes that's one good way of doing it.

You could also dado the sides only. I'm not sure with a small box whether there's any negative to doing it this way and it saves on setup time and machining/shaping.

I'm worried about wood movement if I glue in the bottom

This isn't necessarily an issue.

Due to the small size movement is pretty small anyway — the narrower a piece of wood is the less movement you need to account for.

If you wanted to help with this you can select a piece of quarter-sawn walnut for the base and with that the movement will be even smaller, by approximately a factor of two, but bottom line is that there are many boxes made which have solid-wood bottoms (and tops) glued solidly to the body which don't exhibit problems due to expansion and contraction.

To not have to worry about movement at all you could of course use plywood or veneered MDF.

About having the bottom flush, if you have difficulty dialling in the exact settings for the join don't sweat it too much, the bottom doesn't have to be absolutely flush after assembly. It can be easily be made flush by hand planing after the glue has set, or even by sanding. But visually some people like it when the sides of some boxes don't sit right on a surface, so there's a 'shadow line', and one way in which this can be achieved is by having the bottom project slightly.

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  • Thanks .. forgot to indicate box size - 22 x 14 inches (9 high) - with this size do you still consider it to fall within the "small" size where I dont need to worry about movement, or should I let it float as suggested by the next comment?
    – Yves
    Apr 19 '18 at 14:31
  • I presume it's 22" along the grain and 14" in width. That's getting up there to being a little risky but you could be all right. Since it's risky there's no reason not to take the extra care, just in case. TBH for me this argues very much in favour of a ply/MDF bottom since it's so much more straightforward in terms of construction.
    – Graphus
    Apr 20 '18 at 17:56
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You pretty much answered your own question about making the bottom flush. Dado the sides and make a rabbet in the bottom that is as deep as the distance from the bottom edge of the side to the dado. Be sure to calculate this distance carefully so that the dado width plus the distance to the edge is the same as the thickness of the bottom.

As far as wood movement, if your bottom is solid wood you will have to leave space and not glue it in place to allow for wood movement. If you don't want to do this you will need to use plywood. If you want to match species you could always do a shop-sawn veneer over plywood or MDF.

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