Boxguy Makes A Tea Box and How...

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Project by Boxguy posted 04-27-2014 03:18 AM 5001 views 29 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Thanks for looking at this project. Any comments and suggestions are appreciated and welcome. I will reply to all of you Lumberlanders out there who take time to “have your say” in the next 24 hours, so check back for feedback. There is a tutorial index at the end of this posting that will show you how to build the jigs and learn the techniques for building boxes like this tea box. You can find a new, extensive tutorial on sizing tea boxes and using Venetian blinds as dividers by clicking here.

Pictured is a small tea box (10 3/4” long, 6 inches wide, and 4 1/2” high) made of woods local to southern Indiana. The top is Honeylocust and the sides are Black Cherry. The corner splines are Black Walnut. The inside dividers are made of recycled Venetian blinds.

Story: This top board has many nice things going on I like the grain and the striations that flow along. It looks really nice next to cherry and I wanted to make a tea box that would celebrate these colors and woods.

On the bottom, I used the faux-feet design that Andy developed. They are made with the same roundover bit I used for the top. I just stopped the router cuts before I got to the corners. It gives the box a nice light look.

Focus: This tea box uses wooden Venetian blinds for dividers. I won’t go into that here since it is covered in this tutorial. Here are some previews of the tutorial.

Tutorials: For methods used to make boxes like those pictured above just click on the blue links below. They are arranged by topic.

Sizing Tea Boxes and Dividers From Venetian Blinds
Making Kleenex boxes:
$5 band clamps:
Combining Wood Colors:
Jig for 45ing corners:
Routers and Rounding edges
Why round box corners?
Organizing a glue-up table:
Making splines with a simple jig:
Adding splines to a box:
Making a jig to cut spline slots:
Measuring for spline slot cuts:
Installing an attached top: like that pictured above.
Cutting off the box top and sizing piano hinges
Adding finger indents:
More about finger indents.
Mortising and installing hinges:
Tips on making sliding trays: for inside boxes:
Finishing tips:
Swapping Wood By Mail:
Making a serving tray with angled sides.
Roy Underhill's tool tote.

-- Big Al in IN

19 comments so far

View kdc68's profile


2988 posts in 3124 days

#1 posted 04-27-2014 04:13 AM

Pretty slick idea using blinds for dividers !.....Beautiful box !...Great instructions !....Well done !

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View Dan P's profile

Dan P

755 posts in 2739 days

#2 posted 04-27-2014 04:47 AM

Another great box, I appreciate your tutorials and find myself continually referencing them.

One question I have is, how do you get the inside curve on the corners?

-- Daniel P

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


19525 posts in 4523 days

#3 posted 04-27-2014 05:14 AM

WoW! Another great build. Where do you get old wood blinds?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Boxguy's profile


2880 posts in 3114 days

#4 posted 04-27-2014 06:34 AM


KDC68, thanks for the compliments. I really liked your conversion of the dust collector. Nice work. The box you made using the Fine Woodworking plans is really stunning. Great job there too.

Daniel, good question. How do I round the inside corners?

After I have cut the box into a top and bottom using the table saw, I run the box through the dual drum sander to get the fit of the two halves flat and free of any burn marks. Next I head for a board-mounted router with a 1/2 inch roundover bit with a bearing on top.

I turn the box over and run the inside edge of the top around the three sides of the box that are not going to get a hinge. Then I do the same on the bottom part of the box. The curve is a result of the bearing on the bit following the inside edge of the box and touching the sides at once, but not the inside corner as it makes the turn. The curve is an illusion caused by the bearing touching the two sides of the corner. Sandpaper wrapped around a half inch dowel will quickly sand away any burn marks in the corner and keep the curve intact.

Having a curved inside edge of the box makes reaching inside easy on the fingers, and gives it a nice look too. Thanks, it is nice to hear that the tutorials are of use to others.

Topa, asked where do I get the blinds?

Friends help me look, but I check Goodwill and Habitat recycling. I watch for restaurant remodels, as a last resort you can check Home Depot and Lowe’s for new blinds or miscut blinds or sales on blinds. Most run me about 20 cents a slat, even at a dollar each they are worth buying. I will spend more than that on planing and finish coats when I make them myself. One blind gives you lots of slats and I like to have several colors available to choose from.

-- Big Al in IN

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2671 days

#5 posted 04-27-2014 12:06 PM

Another beautiful box and wood Big Al. I always look forward to seeing your creations….thanks for sharing and for the tutorials.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View kiefer's profile


5760 posts in 3514 days

#6 posted 04-27-2014 12:50 PM

That’s a nice looking box Al.
I love the idea of the blinds and thanks for the tutorial on that very well done !

-- Kiefer

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

7633 posts in 4200 days

#7 posted 04-27-2014 12:54 PM

Not only is your box beautiful but the same goes in the way you explain your work and show it in a tutorial format.
You set the bar in every way with your work. There are many more box makers out there that do some really nice work also but when I view your page I feel like I’m looking at a my favorite wood working magazine . Excellent work!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

426 posts in 3914 days

#8 posted 04-27-2014 01:53 PM

Great box, and wonderful pictures and explanations. Great work, and a joy to read. I’d never thought about reusing wooden blinds … and after my first glance at the blinds in my office, I decided I should keep my hands off of them! Garage sales it is.

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View littlecope's profile


3100 posts in 4349 days

#9 posted 04-27-2014 02:07 PM

Another Superb Box Al!
We all have seen your Box-making abilities, and appreciate your dedication to teaching your methods, but when are you going to do a tutorial on your Photography?!
You always do a flawless job making images of your work as well, that is not easy! Great Job on that, and on everything!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Andy's profile


1713 posts in 4755 days

#10 posted 04-27-2014 02:47 PM

Great looking box and we all appreciate the work you put into the tutorial.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3714 days

#11 posted 04-27-2014 02:58 PM

Al, it’s another great box. You are so talented.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 4589 days

#12 posted 04-27-2014 03:48 PM

Thanks for the tutorial! I have Favorited it and will make a couple for gifts.

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View DocSavage45's profile


9017 posts in 3689 days

#13 posted 04-27-2014 03:58 PM


Nice piece, very subtle, and I already thanked you for the blog! LOL!


-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2829 posts in 4439 days

#14 posted 04-27-2014 04:01 PM

Very nice box & tutorial.

-- Dennis Zongker

View Boxguy's profile


2880 posts in 3114 days

#15 posted 04-27-2014 07:35 PM


Dave, thanks for the very kind words. Judging by your cabinet work and the lovely redwood doll cases you made, you shouldn’t need much coaching. But maybe you can find a tip or two in the tutorial.

Kiefer, I liked your grandkids’ money boxes that you posted about the same time as this posting. Those look like a great gift idea for kids. Grandpa projects are the most fun to do. Keep boxing and keep posting.

Tony, wow, what nice things to say, thanks. That top you posted recently looks like a great idea for my next “Gwanpa Project.” I have gotten several such ideas from this site.

Henry, probably best to keep your mitts off your office blinds, but maybe there is an office or two down the hall! California is a great place to find Venetian blinds. Seems like every window out there has some once you start looking.

Little Cope, Mike, thanks. In your “Sorry But” box (hope “But” is with just one “t.”) You talked about how some boxes just seem to go smoothly and seem to want to be built. This box was one of those smooth builds. It sure is nice when those come along, isn’t it?

My photo techniques are pretty primitive. So I can do the tutorial right here. I use a 15-year-old Cannon EOS Rebel and run the photos through Picassa. There is nothing magic about the techniques. It is just taking time to do it and learning how to use the programs and equipment. I leave my camera set on automatic.

As you can see, my “studio” is two flood lights and a roll of paper on a plastic pipe. I bought the lights and paper at the local camera store.

Charles, thanks. I don’t know about having talent so much as I have greatly improved in my abilities to correct my mistakes. However, I keep finding new ways to screw up so I have to keep finding new ways to fix them.

This process generally comes under the category of “experience.” I still can’t convinced my darling wife about the wisdom of this philosophy. She keeps asking me, “So tell me again…why did you mess this up to start with?” I never have a good answer for that one.

Toolz, Larry, have fun with your tea box build. If I can help, just ask. Keep boxing and keep posting.

Doc, Thomas, if this box were a little more rustic it would be filled with Wabi-Sabi. Maybe in another 50 to 100 years it will be. Nothing is perfect. Nothing is finished. Nothing is permanent.

Dennis, I envy your carving and marquetry skills. They are masterful. Thanks for sharing those with us.

-- Big Al in IN

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