Make a finger jointed laser cut box

Laser Cut finger jointed box

Creating a tightly fitting finger jointed box can seem complicated, but there are a few fantastic online resources that help to make this project easy.

To create your design for laser cutting a box with finger joints, head over to MakerCase or MakeABox. You’ll need to plug in your desired dimensions, material thickness and a few other details. A custom generated design will provide you with notches that snap together to create the walls of your custom sized box.

If you are not sure what material to make it from, head over to our materials page to see the wide range of materials we stock.

Laser Cut Finger Joined Box
Finger Joined Box - Laser Cut

Here are a few key things to consider when designing for your laser cut finger joint box:

1. Kerf

When laser cutting, a small amount of material is burnt or cut away by the laser beam. This is called kerf and is essentially the width of the laser beam; imagine cutting a piece of wood with a saw – the saw would cut away the timber that is the same width as the saw blade.

Kerf width varies between materials and is generally minimal (<1mm) but can be an important consideration when making a finger jointed box. To err on the side of looser finger joints, enter smaller kerf into the automated box design generator; conversely, if you are looking for a tighter joint you can enter a larger kerf into the automated box designer generator. The larger the kerf, the looser the join so you may need to scale up your joins.

In order to achieve the perfect tolerance for tabs and finger joints we recommend running a series of tests – set up your design with some variants to allow for trial and error.

See below for a rough guideline for kerf allowances, these measurements can be use as a starting point for your digital design.

Acrylic 2-3mm 0.18mm
Acrylic 5-8mm 0.21mm
Plywood 3mm 0.3mm
Plywood 6mm 0.25mm
Veneered MDF 4mm 0.16mm
Boxboard 1.1mm 0.08mm
Boxboard 2.3mm 0.12mm

Again, this information should be used as a starting point and we highly advise cutting a number of tests (ranging in kerf width sizes) to see which kerf gives the tightness you want with the notches.

Laser Cut Box with Application Tape

2. Material width

All materials require different power settings when laser cutting. Thicker materials generally require more power, and have a thicker kerf. Material thickness should be considered when making finger joints, if your notches are deeper than the thickness, the ‘fingers’ may protrude at the ends.

Detailed information on the material we stock can be found on our blog – here are some quick links to read about acrylic and plywood.

3. Test and Prototype

To achieve your desired fit, we always recommend testing and prototyping your box. We recommend erring on the side of slightly looser joins, and using a small amount of wood glue to secure. This can help to avoid inevitable minor differences in material thickness and kerf.

Websites such as MakerCase or MakeABox  provide a quick laser cutting design for a box with finger joints and are great starting point for your design. To achieve the perfect finger jointed box, you will need to plan for some trial and error with your prototyping process.

For further information on general laser cutting, please check out our FAQs for some guidelines.

Read our laser cutting golden rules for both Illustrator and DXF formats.