Customizable Box with Finger Joints

by txoof Sep 1, 2014
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This saved me a ton of time! I customized it to a size I needed in about 30 seconds and it was ready to go. Thanks!

Just wondering why you removed kerf handling, and why you don't need it.Are the finger joints tight enough without worrying about it?

In the first few iterations I had the math all wrong for the kerf handling so I took it out. I ran a few more test pieces and realized that it really wasn't needed for laser cut things. As all of the fingers and grooves are the same size, the laser kerf ends up affecting everything equally. The fingers are all slightly smaller than they should be and all of the grooves are all slightly larger than they should be. This adds up to a pretty good fit.

I've made boxes out of cardboard, 4.5m birch ply 3mm and 5mm acrylic and so far everything lines up really nice. With the birch some of the joints need a little bit of sanding.

I think that this would not work on a dove-tailed joint, but I'd have to math it out and I have had far too little coffee to do that right now. This method might not work on a router table, but I've never used one in real life so I don't really have a good understanding of the finer details of that process.

If you find that you need the kerf settings, let me know; I can offer some advice. It might be an interesting puzzle to get those back in.

Well, finally got a chance to cut out a box. The finger joints are a bit on the loose side and I wish to make them a bit tighter. Perhaps the kerf on our laser cutter is a bit wider. Perhaps it needs a tuneup.

I'm going to go back to the openscad code and see if I can figure out where to add some kerf allowance.

Where do you find the slop in the joints? I'll have to go back and look at the source to get my brain back around how I made this thing.
I'd definitely be curious to see what adjustments you make and roll those into the version here.

Comments deleted.

Beautiful work. Thanks!

I have tried to make two custom boxes and both times it tells me that there is a error.

What is giving you the error? Is it OpenSCAD or the Customizer? The customizer will flip out as it tries to generate an STL from the 2D layout because the "Current top level object is not a 3D object." The customizer is not set up to deal with 2D objects, it just wants to make a printable STL for use with a 3D printer. Look at the last line of the ERROR output in your customizer queue and you will see a similar error as the one above.

Just to be clear, I used the customizer features to show off the customizable features of this thing, it is not meant to be actually downloaded from the customizer. You MUST download the .SCAD file and open it in OpenSCAD to produce a usable DXF. If you've never used OpenSCAD, this is a great opportunity to give it a play. I tried to document the source to make it easy to play with.

The 2D layout option in creates purely two dimensional objects; this option is meant for creating a DXF that you can load into a 2D printer/plotter (such as a laser cutter, CNC router, or water jet). If you want to make a DXF that you can use with your cutting device, you will need to download the .SCAD and follow the instructions:

TL;DR: Set your X, Y, Z dimensions, material thickness and finger width. We'll do the rest!
To create a DXF that is usable with your laser cutter do the following:

  1. Download
  2. Open file in OpenSCAD
  3. Adjust the dimensions as needed (see the variables below)
  4. Render the box in 2D mode (F6)
  5. Choose File > Export > Export as DXF
  6. Open the file in your favorite laser cutting suite!

If you just download the SCAD file and follow the instructions as they now are, you get an error "Current top level object is not a 2D object." when you try to Export as DXF.

Changing the following line will fix that:

2D=1; //[1:2D for DXF, 0:3D for STL]

By default it is currently 0, which, as the comment in the code suggests, is for exporting as STL.