Cherry And Walnut Tea Caddy

  • Advertise with us
Project by Timmy2Hands posted 10-29-2016 06:04 PM 1101 views 6 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This caddy doesn’t just have to be used for storing and sorting tea bags. It’s great for all kinds of things and I may end up using it for nails and screws in the shop.

This is a really simple design and with Christmas right around the corner it’s a terrific gift idea. The ladies love these things.

I made this using an all hand tool method just because that’s how I roll, but you could batch out several of these in a weekend if you’re using power tools.

The overall size depends on the thickness of the stock you decide to use (I went with 5/8”), but each divided section of the caddy is 3” square and 3” deep. You could also very easily change the number of section to four or six, I went with eight for this one.

I got the idea for this project from Billy's Little Bench on YouTube.

Here is a link to his video Making a Nail Caddy


I’ve got a 7” wide board of 3/4” cherry with a significant cup in it. I decided to cut the parts to rough length before I did any milling in order to help make sure I could get at least 5/8” thick pieces. If I tried to flatten this board first I may not have gotten the thickness I wanted. Ripping it down the middle first means less severe cupping to deal with.

Here I have cut the pieces to rough size. My rule of thumb for rough cuts is final dimension plus 1/4” or more.

I used a full 7” wide piece for the bottom panel, but it will only be 1/2” thick so the cupping won’t be as big a factor. I also rough cut a piece of 3/4” walnut for the center divider and some 3/8” walnut for the small dividers. I’ll get to those later.

Now I need to flatten and thickness the cherry side pieces.

I begin by putting the cup side down and the hump side up. I put pencil marks all over the face to keep an eye on my progress.

As I work my way down to flat the pencil marks get smaller and smaller near the edges. At this point I’m using my #4 with the blade set for a pretty heavy cut. Once the pencil lines get about this close to the edge I switch to my #4 1/2 smoother and bring the face down to flat.

Now that I’m flat on this side I put on my face mark and then get the adjacent edge square to that face.

Now I set my marking gauge to 5/8” and make sure I can get that thickness all the way around the board and mark a line on all four edges.

I chamfer the sides right down to the line.

Now I mark the chamfers with pencil and use the marks to gauge my progress. These are sometimes called China marks.

#4 set for a heavy cut gets me most of the way down.

Now is when I switch back to the smoother to clean it up.

Right on the money.

Repeat for the other four pieces.

So I have the pieces flat and the faces parallel, I’ve also squared one edge and brought the opposite edge down to size. It’s time to square up the ends and get all four pieces to exact dimension.

The four side pieces are square six sides and ready to be nailed together.

I’ve got this dovetail alignment board based on the David Barron design.

Here is a link to how this is designed and used.

I’m using the alignment board to hold my pieces in position to mark out the nail spacing.

The pieces are clamped in place with the face vise and a squeeze clamp and now I can use my dividers to mark the nail holes.

I drill pilot holes for each nail to prevent splitting.

I pop in 1” finish nails and use a punch to set the heads below the surface so I can smooth plane later.

Now that the inside dimension has been finalized I can get to work on the center divider. I use the same technique as above to bring the 3/4” stock down to 5/8” and square up the edges and cut to final height. The board is left a bit long and I use the shooting board to sneak up on an exact fit.

I love end grain shaving in walnut. so sexy and shiny.

Now on to the bottom panel, well, now it’s about 5/8” too narrow. It was not caused by bad measuring, I want all the divider sections to be 3” square and after I add the center piece and the two side pieces it just worked out that way.

It’s not that big of a deal, I cut the board down the middle and added in a 3/4” filler strip. My first choice would have been cherry for this and my second choice would have been walnut. All I had was maple, so maple it is.

Once the glue was dry it was back to flattening and thicknessing down to 1/2”. This board will be left a little longer and wider than needed and trimmed to an exact fit after it’s nailed in place.

I’m now moving on to the handle. I used a brace and 3/4” bit to cut two holes at the start and stop points of the handle. I then use my dividers to strike an arc that is tangent to the edge of both holes, one leg is set right in the middle of the board at the bottom of the piece and the other leg is adjusted until it touches the edge of each hole. I the put my coping saw blade through one of the holes and cut close to the line.

I use a combination of rasps, files, and sand paper to round over the edges and smooth thing out.

It’s time to cut the bridal joints for the dividers. I used a 3” spacer and each divider to carefully mark out the joints. I then saw them out and chop the waste with a chisel.

The marrying joints are cut in the small dividers as well. Each divider should be individually fit and so you should mark your joints to keep them matched up correctly.

Now it’s just a matter of shaping the top of the handle however you like it.

I just cut an angle on each side and went back to the rasps and files to round everything over and make it smooth and silky for your hand.

We are almost ready for assembly so it’s time to give everything a final smoothing. Be careful not to change the width of the dividers near the bridal joints because it will change the fit.

Start applying the finish of your choice. I like Watco Dinish Oil in natural.

Give the finish enough time to cure and then it’s time to assemble.

Final assembly is very straight forward. Put the bridal joints together without glue, slip the sides down over the assembly. I put some blue tape on the ends and marked a center line for nail position. Drill pilot holes and drive two nails on each side to hold the center divider in place. Flip the piece and drill holes and nail on the bottom. Trim the edges of the bottom panel as needed. I also put a heavy chamfer around the bottom to create a nice shadow line. Touch up any finishing and you’re done.

Thanks for following along, I hope you found it useful.


-- Tim

4 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3162 days

#1 posted 10-29-2016 09:58 PM

This is a very nice project.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View RustyHacksaw's profile


145 posts in 1559 days

#2 posted 10-30-2016 02:34 AM

Great writeup, thanks for sharing. Great ideas, and the end result is great.

View jeff's profile


1136 posts in 3761 days

#3 posted 10-30-2016 09:10 AM

Nice project and write up.

-- Jeff,Tucson,Az.

View majuvla's profile


13998 posts in 3163 days

#4 posted 10-30-2016 10:31 AM

Beautiful and practical inner compartments and handle. Making off photos are very educational for me.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics