Maple and Walnut Tea Box

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Project by ilyac posted 12-21-2016 12:44 AM 1556 views 5 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After my last project lasting as long as it did it was so nice to knock out a project in a few 2 hour sessions spread out of the week. My girlfriend asked for a tea box for her mom, and so I made just that.

Design: I decided to make this a fairly simple box, with 6 compartments for what I determined to be a fairly standard sized tea bag. I had some maple to use for this, and found a piece of walnut I could glue up to be the width I needed for the top. The final dimensions of the box were 3”x 8” x 3” (h x w x l). I started out with a completely square top but thought it was a little boring, so I raised the panel up a tad and put a very mild taper on it. The dividers are just a hair snug inside and not glued. I also made a small lip for lid and body of the box, as I did not want to put hinges on this.

I took the opportunity to learn a little Fusion 360, which I think I am going to try to learn how to use better, as I really enjoyed having a good set of plans to work off of.

Building: I wanted make this box continuous grain (around 3 corners) so I cut a single piece of maple to final height and total length I needed. I then cut the box bottom dado, the dado for the lid, and the inside edge of the lip. Cutting down the sides to length now and then putting a 45-degree bevel on the corners.

For the top I glued up to 2 pieces to get something wide enough, and trimmed to length and added the lip that would fit into the top of the box. I modified the plan a little from the drawing so that the lip came over the top of the maple portion of the lid, allowing me to make it to be a little loose to for movement, but not having to have a gap visible. Once it was the right size and flat I put the gentle angle on it with the table saw.

To glue it up I used blue painters tape and folded the whole thing up. Once the glue was dried I separated the box by cutting in half way a kerf thickness below the inside line to make that like (look at the last picture to see the layout of the cuts).

Finishing: This is typically my weakest skill, but I took my time and am really happy with the finish I applied. I copied an article from Fine Woodworking as best as I could and it came out great. Rag applications of 50/50 mixture of SealCoat Dewaxed Shellac and denatured alcohol, until a good finish is built up.

By the 5th one I was happy with it. Sanding lightly in between layers just to knock down grain and high spots, and finished off with 00 steel wool and wax. The result is a smooth finish that still has a nice natural feel to it, though it is admitatly not all that tough. A small box like this I am not very worried about needing to have a super tough finish though

Problems: The only real issue I had with this project was with my 45 degree cross cut sled. I made it fairly fast and it was neither perfectly 45 degrees, nor was it perfectly square. The end result was a little bit if a skewed glue up, which was easy to knock back to flat except for the inside lip edges to seat neatly. Those took some work to get them to sit without rocking back and forth.
I also did not have a flat top grind on my table saw blade for the lip cuts, so I had to go in and clean up the excess from the ‘V’ shape left from my alternating bevel. If I continue to make these I will invest in a flat grind blade.

4 comments so far

View observer100's profile


473 posts in 1998 days

#1 posted 12-21-2016 01:26 AM

Certainly looks good to me. The ‘Problems’ section of your text made me grin as you described my ongoing issues with my small box projects!

-- Seeing is believing.

View ilyac's profile


56 posts in 2966 days

#2 posted 12-21-2016 01:50 AM

Thanks so much! And yes, I doubt you and I are the only ones on this site to make a box that’s just a hair off from square. Incremental improvment!

Certainly looks good to me. The Problems section of your text made me grin as you described my ongoing issues with my small box projects!

View Ken90712's profile


17909 posts in 4077 days

#3 posted 12-21-2016 09:05 AM

Wow great work, Super Super clean well done.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Bermuda_Les's profile


162 posts in 2118 days

#4 posted 02-25-2017 10:58 PM

That is awesome! I made boxes (cases actually) for years, and this really impressed me. It just goes to show that awesome doesn’t need to be complicated.

-- Making sawdust in Bermuda. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it!

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