Click to enlargeConstruction Details for a
Beehive Box Hand-Hole Cutter
See also
Using the Hand-Hole Cutter

The unit pictured here has cut thousands of hand holes in new and used boxes over the years.  It has been safe and trouble-free.  It can be modified to cut either grooves or scoops.  This one is set up for grooves.  Hopefully, these pictures should enable any handyman to make a similar unit.  This page shows construction details. Instructions on cutting boxes will follow later. See Important Safety Notice.

Top views: The working surface and jig

The jig with safety guard closed.  The spacer, used for cutting ends, is far left in a special pocket where it won't get lost or wander around

The safety is shown partly open to show the marks (forward left) for sliding the boxes: One is for the ends, one for the sides. Note the full-face mask for safety.

Thin slats hold the box off the working surface and ensure a consistent cutting depth even when shavings and sawdust accumulate

Click any picture to enlarge

The jig: The angle iron structure seen on top of the table is the jig, and it is attached to the plywood working surface. The rest of the unit is actually a home-made high-powered dado machine, so this jig could actually be built and used on a table saw -- if the saw happened to be large enough to accommodate a dado, wobble blade, or a butterfly cutter and heavy-duty enough to drive it. The jig is the special item that controls the position and length of the cut.

Bottom view
Click to enlarge
Bottom view of the table, looking up and showing the motor and cutter, as well as the switch

Lacking a suitable table saw or if a dedicated hand-hole cutter is desired, this device can be built using any sturdy table of a comfortable size and height as a frame.  We built the table shown from angle iron in a matter of an hour or so, and mounted the drive and cutting parts under the deck.

Most hobbyist table saws are a bit small, but a good-quality contractor's model could be used if an appropriate sheet of strong plywood is be attached on top to make a larger working surface on which the jig can be screwed down.  before proceeding, though, consider whether the dados, when mounted, will reach through the working surface (5/8" is recommended although thinner could possibly be used) plus the necessary 5/8" cut into the super.

The working surface and jig (above) is shown with safety cover open and closed.  The cover is on a common door hinge and not spring-loaded. It must be flapped open to cut, then flapped closed as soon as the box run is done.  This is important, because there is an open blade spinning and you should never leave one exposed -- even for a moment -- when not actually looking at it and cutting. In the picture the guard is propped up with a pencil for the photo, but when open it goes all the way back to lie flat.

The Cutting Mechanism

The cutter, arbor and motor are bolted to the bottom of the table. Note the belt tension adjustor. Detail of the hinge mounting the motor Close-up of the arbor and wobble blade.  Note the wedge-shaped washers (shims) used to make the blade woblle. A close-up of the wobble blade and the adjusting shims. A butterfly cutter, used to make scoop type hand holes.  More expensive and hard to keep sharp.
Click any picture to enlarge.  Hover for info.
The cutter, in this case a wobble blade, is mounted on a commonly available saw arbour and driven by a belt, directly from the motor, which is a totally-enclosed cap-start heavy-duty model  A butterfly cutter (shown) could also be used for prettier hand holes.

Next - Using the Hand-Hole Cutter

Safety Notice and Disclaimer:
Woodworking is intrinsically dangerous, so if you are not an experienced shop person, "Don't try this at home!"  Find someone knowledgeable to do the job.
Of course, we do not guarantee anything.  This article is provided as a rough outline and intended for knowledgeable craftsperson. This is not a toy. While safe when operated by a sober, attentive and well-trained person, it can be very dangerous in the hands of careless or inexperienced people.  A powerful machine like this can throw boxes and small items considerable distances and with amazing force, and injure or maim.

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