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Some thoughts on Poor Joints

There has been a lot said about the joints in the flow hive boxes. I myself was not that impressed that I had to rasp the box joints to get them fitting.
Having just finished making some brood boxs I have to advise things are not always plain sailing.

I had a lot of trouble with light, moisture absorbent wood like pine. I was using scrap to perfect my box joints and found that joints cut one day and fitted nicely could not accept a joint cut the following day. Using the same wood and technique.

With 13 tails and recesses in a joint I found that the difference between a snug fit and a non fit was as little as 1/1000th of an inch for each cut.
Tails or recesses cut on a more humid day or with a saw blade temperature difference accounted for as much as 5/1000 th of an inch. That is a fit or non fit. Luckily I could measure and cut to these tolerances

While the Sheoak which I used is very stable, I made sure the joints for each box was completed without a stop. The first boxes joints I made are not a good fit (they go together with persuasion) with the box made two days later.
Boxs made with other joints are much more tolerant of differing sizes.

Just saying. Maybe the joints were good one day at the factory but mixed with joints cut on a different day not good.


Two things. Firstly I agree about the difficulty to always get a good fit. Secondly, I am envious of your casuarina if anything like the Tasmanian version. A most gorgeous timber. Are you going to tung oil that? Got a photo?

Wilfred - just seen your other post. Very nice indeed!

I have some poor joints too. Base of left index finger, sacroiliacs (lower back), right hip, right knee, left ankle, left ball of foot (2nd and 3rd metatarsophalangeal joints). I thought it was age, but now I know it is due to lack of precision with a wood saw!!! :smile: :heart_eyes::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::rofl:


[quote=“Dawn_SD, post:4, topic:12186”]
Base of left index finger, sacroiliacs (lower back), right hip, right knee, left ankle, left ball of foot (2nd and 3rd metatarsophalangeal joints). I thought it was age:face_with_raised_eyebrow::face_with_raised_eyebrow: :wink:

Goodness me you wouldn’t even need a headache with that lot.

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I just realized. You aren’t making hive boxes at all. You are making fine craftsman bee furniture! Wow, what spoiled princesses you have! :smile:


It’s prudent to use a bit of tact & discretion… Decorum.


@JeffH… is what I use Jeff, tack.
Tack 'em, Screw 'em, Fill 'em.
5 years under the Aussie sun and 1/1000 becomes 25/1000 with these modern pretend timbers.
18Volt screwgun + NoMoreGaps; https://www.bunnings.com.au/selleys-no-more-gaps-475g-multipurpose-gap-filler_p1230010
is as much a part of the BKs kit as is the smoker.
A pail of acrylic undercoat comes in handy also.

Bees never did read Utzon’s[1] book on better bee bungalows [2]



G’day Bill, Plastibond works wonders for me. Actually Repco Metal Reinforced Filler might be a tad better & a bit easier on the pocket. My recent discovery.

After reading this thread, I think I’d be happy just to use rebated corners.

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I assure you sir it is not rubbish. Over a period of 3 days I created in the region of 50 trial box joints learning to create a very good joint. Creating these joints I was able to adjust my cuts by as little as 0.02mm which is less than 1/1000 of an inch. And I did find that 1/1000th of an inch sometimes was the difference between a mallet fit and a tight fit.

You obviously have very little knowledge of modern woodworking machinery or you would not have made your statement. And I mean machinery you can buy off the shelf. I have Incra positioning fences on both my router and bench saw. If you care research these you will find just how small the adjustments can be made. I rarely use a ruler when I want something special, it’s mostly a micrometer or vernier.

Of course if you want two pieces or more just to fit together that’s OK and that’s probably your choice. If however you want pieces to fit precisely on all contacting surfaces you have to do better.

Crickey mate I have a small farm on which every building on the property, besides the house (which I did the fittings) has been constructed by me, by myself. The largest shed is 30m (approx 100ft) by 90m (approx 295ft) and the tolerences I worked to was more like 15cm (6") and everything came together. When I build a chook shed from poles and a chain saw, I don’t mind that it is a bit out of square or different sized poles make one bit of the roof higher. That is not important. Horses for courses.

However if your hobby is crafting in wood then 1/1000 of an inch is not that small. Certainly well within the capabilities of good modern machinery. Maybe everything I make doesn’t meet tolerances of 1/1000th of an inch but I try to achieve that.

You missed the point of my OP, in that I did find, sometimes it was possible, for one pin which is out by as little1/1000th of an inch, to prevent the joint from fitting. Don’t believe it ? That’s OK.
I did have joints which would fit one day but be very tight the next, just due I believe to differing humidity and temperature. Saw settings also had to be checked every day as well.

Anyway I am disappointed that you chose to discredit my post without question or research just straight into “utter rubbish” Well that about sums up society comment and some Presidents these days eh.


[quote=“JeffH, post:10, topic:12186”]
After reading this thread, I think I’d be happy just to use rebated corners.

Yes, the bee box’s I am building now are way not practical. They weigh a ton and take days to build.
They will however look OK and not deteriorate in my lifetime. Never have to seal, paint, varnish or polish them ever, ever.

Next time, if there is a next time, I will like you suggest, just rebate the corners. Will take way less time and ummmm 1/8" tolerances seems about right.:sunglasses:

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Hi Busso, well done. You have done a great job there.


G’day Jeff… Yeah rebate exposes way less endgrain.
Back in the day I used to wipe Aquadere (spell?) over all endgrain
which made for a lot of work on dovetailed woodware so I switched over
as failures popped up. I have been using NMG for around 10years now
and aside from some initial shrinkage it proves fast and durable over
time. with a lick of paint to hold it down and deter bees from having
a chew at it.I understand those who go to “1/1000” efforts, got a few mates like that
and so each to their own applies. Still, I don’t take any of them “bee
working”… they’d drive me mental :-))))
Thanks for your mail, mate.


I think @busso what is utter rubbish is the fact you’re using an antiquated measuring increment!
Having been a 1st class machinist in a past life I was used to working in microns and thous only when working on Caterpillar parts. Fortunately no more factory work for me, I’ve chosen to crawl around in hot ceiling spaces now…
I am glad that you measured your shed in metres though. :wink:
I’d like to be able to have the time and skill to work with wood to the precision that you are able to, I like to watch and marvel at the tv program Woodworking Masterclass. My woodwork is limited to a chainsaw and axe. :slight_smile:
Your box looks cool, nice one. :thumbs up: but imperial, really? Ya Ol’ fart.

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My left leg is 1/8" longer than my right. Causes all sorts of problems. If tried a mallet but it didn’t work - caused more pain.

Do you think I can return it for a refund?

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You will. Just have to get to 75 and have a creed. “Never start a new project unless it involves buying a new piece of equipment” Always much easier to explain that sudden drop in the bank balance to the good Wife.:wink:

Thanks for comments

Worth a try, but they might charge you an arm too for removing it… (an arm and a leg???) :smile: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I thought of you @busso when I heard this program on the radio today. Do you think you need one? :smile:


I think we all need one. Expense is the factor stopping it becoming universal. I believe guys try it with their fingers.:fearful:
I paid just over $2000 for my 10" table saw. The Sawstop “featured” with similar specs cost $4500. I just have to be careful.:face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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A few weeks ago, I bought in an 8 frame Langstroth box from a Queensland supplier. It was supplied with rebated joints rather than box joints. I must say it went together quicker and easier than box jointed ones although you need to take care to align the top and bottom edges. It was made from the usual 22mm thick hoop pine boards.

The rebated boards need to be glued and nailed to hold square. I use polyurethane woodworking glue after wiping the rebates with a damp cloth. The polyurethane foams and swells as it sets and it’s the dampness of the wipeover that catalyses the reaction. The swelling action forces the glue into the wood grain, making for a potentially strong bond. I say potentially because the same swelling can also force the joint apart turning the job to rubbish. Box joints hold themselves together much more effectively.

While the glue was still wet, the box was clamped across the rebates and nailed from the ends. I use 40mm X 2mm galvanised flathead nails. They get set at an angle from the inside of the joint towards the outside, 5 nails per joint. Once the ends have been nailed, the clamps are removed and each joint is nailed from the other side. Each rebate ends up being joined with polyurethane glue and 10 nails. Last thing is to check square and bounce the box square if necessary. I use a monster, purpose built bee box sized square.

The glue sets up over a few hours and sometimes I wipe any oose caused by the foaming. Usually I don’t bother. I quite like to see the occasional dribble of glue. I find the oosing is minimal when I use the glue sparingly.

One coat of primer/undercoat and two coats of white acrylic finishes the job. I make sure the corners get plenty of paint. I paint my own boxes inside and outside and then leave them in the open for a few weeks. I used to dip the timber in copper napthenate wood preservative but the product is no longer available.

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