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Cherry Tea Box

author-gravatar craftingwood Sep 10, 2016

My wife has long desired a tea box.  While waiting for a stack of lumber for my next major project to come to equalibrium, I bult this from stock in my scrap pile.  It is primarily cherry with some unknown wood (I think something in the mahogany family) as an accent and one piece of purple heart because I ran out of 1/4" cherry.

Complete!  This was all by hand; I love hand work, but resawing by hand sucks and I can't wait until I am settled a bit more and can buy a band saw without knowing it will need to be moved in a couple years.  Fine cherry dovetails (almost but not quite London-pattern).  Hand stuck mouldings. Carved mahogany lid.  The finish is BORG shellac; it gives a nice soft sheen and a wonderful texture.  I didn't have any alcohol on hand to dilute it and thus used it the 3lb cut it comes in; a project this large is hard to finish well with that thick shellac because it dries too fast.  Overall dimensions are ~ 13"x10"x4".  The dimensions were based on providing a 3x4 matrix of cubbies that are each 2 5/8" square.  Most tea bags are a hair over 2 1/2" wide.  My estimate was that a square cubbie would hold about 10 bags; it turned out to be more like 14-15.

Full interior view.

Detail of top moulding.  The top moulding was made with my homemade scratch stock.  I used my 1/8" beading scratch to put a simple bead at the bottom of the strip and a 3/4 round bead at the top (by running the scratch stock along both faces).  The lid is held together by a single dovetail, which is hiden by the moulding.  The top moulding is attached using superglue  while I am generally a fan of hide glue, I like superglue for thin mouldings because it lets you get them stuck in place quickly when too thin for pins.

Detail of bottom moulding.  This is a 3/8" filleted ovolo made using a complex moulding plane.  It is held to the box with PVA (I had run out of liquid hide glue) and pinned with 2 small cut nails (clipped ends of Tremont headless brads) per piece.

Full view of the top carving.

Detail of carving.  My first thought was to do tea leaves but it turns out tea leaves are very boring.  This was my first project carving.  I did three of Mary May's free lessons first (donut, flower, and peach).  I have the flexcut six piece full size set; I wouldn't recommend flexcut, but since I have them, I make them work.  Shellac worked really well on the carving.  Since the carving left some rough finishes, a more penetrating finish may have unevenly soaked into the wood and created weird patterns of dark and light.  Shellac doesn't really soak in mich, so it worked well.

Interior detail.  The dividers have half lap joints.  The stock for the dividers came from resawing 4/4 cherry into 1/2"stock for the sides and 1/4" stock for the dividers, which gave tge four cherry dividers you see here.  I had some other thin cherry from a past project's resawing, but the piece was too thin once I got the wind out of it.  I didn't want to do more resawing since it not very fun by hand.  I had a piece of 1/4"+ purple heat that I picked out of a lumberyards scrap bin years ago before I knew it was not very pleasent to work with and kind of a useless dimension.  It turned out to be a bit of a nice accent and divides the case up into normal teas and special teas.  Since it is inside the case, I am hoping it stays purple for a long time.

Detail of hinge.  These are Horton Brasses box hinges with the light antique finish.  This is the first time I've used high quality hardware and the difference from BORG stuff is amazing.  Definately worth $11 on a project like this.  Since the screws are also finished, I used some cheap #4 screws for all the fitup and only put in the actual screws for the final assembly.

I didn't take much in the way of build photos.  It is a pretty standard dovetailed box with floating bottom and top panels.  The panels are both about 3/8" thick and beveled to fit a 1/4" groove on the bottom and a 1/8" groove on the top.  The dovetails ar laid out knowing where the moulding will go, hence the giant pin on the bottom.

before top moulding.

Another view before top moulding.

1 comment

So amazing looking! Thanks for sharing it!

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