Mortise and tenon joints
Mortise and tenon joints are an elegant and easy way to make corners. There are several free online tools that can quickly create a file based on your own specifications. Our favourite is BoxMaker, as seen in the example below. Here you can enter height, width and depth and get a box with mortise and tenon joints everywhere. Before you get started, you will need to have the measurements of your box. You will also need to know the thickness of your material.
When you enter the website, start by changing the units from “inches” to “millimetres” and pressing “advanced options” for more options.
In this example we would like to make a box of 100 x 100 x 50mm in 3mm plywood. We let “notch length” stay on auto, but if you want a different look, try turning it up and down. When you cut the wood, it is a good idea to set the “cut width” to 0.28 mm. This usually enables you to avoid using glue when the notches are assembled, as they will be so tight.
For acrylic and other fragile materials, it is a good idea to suffice with 0.15 mm, and perhaps use glue if the joints are too loose.
When all the settings have been entered, simply press “design it”.
You will now receive a PDF with something similar to the drawing below.
In this example we would like to have an open box without any lid. Therefore, we delete the notches on one side of each of the box’s side pieces, and replace it with a straight line, as shown in the drawing below.
To save laser time, and money, you can set your file up so the right lines are shared. Even though it might look possible, the notches cannot share lines as they become too loose and cannot be assembled without glue. Set your file up to make the best use of the material you use – you don’t always benefit from sharing lines.
Alternatively, you can choose to set your “cut width” to 0. This means the notches can be shared, but they always need to be glued together. However, in some cases it helps you save a lot of money on the laser cutting. Read more about sharing lines in our guide to Illustrator or Inkscape.
Once your file is ready and you have ordered your cutting, you will receive something similar to the image below. All that’s left for you to do is assemble your product.