Chester County Spice Box

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Project by bbrown posted 05-19-2019 01:59 PM 1586 views 2 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Chester County, Pennsylvania spice box

Based on a box made in Nottingham Township, ca. 1760

All my own inlay from the local Chester Co. hardwoods.
I tried some new techniques such as the geometric circle inlay.

Added some of my own details: carved fan and some of the inlay patterns.
Six hidden compartments – one can be seen in the last photo: the back slides down after sliding hidden dovetail keys in the back of the bottom drawer, which then releases the back panel which accesses a large drawer in the back of the case.

IMO using local wood always looks best for me: holly, walnut, cedar, poplar, maple, and cherry mostly. I’ve noted this same aesthetic also with home landscaping (my dad was a nurseryman in Malvern, PA and I worked the landscape crew for many years).

This project; a lot of work. Honestly not quite my taste but it was more just an exercise and opportunity to try some new inlay techniques.
Ironically, one of the hardest aspects was the almost unnoticeable curved cock-bead on the top of the door :)

This was based on a spicebox on the cover of a monograph by Lee Ellen Griffiths.

[Sorry the one photo is sideways – not sure why it come out that way after I posted it. If an admin. or anyone can tell me how to fix this, that would be appreciated. I could not find any way to rotate photos]

-- Traditional Woodworking & Carving classes at my shop in Coastal Maine:

14 comments so far

View PaulDoug's profile


2439 posts in 2672 days

#1 posted 05-19-2019 02:12 PM

Masterpiece!! Very beautiful..

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View shipwright's profile


8638 posts in 3766 days

#2 posted 05-19-2019 02:19 PM

Very nice work. Nice sharp inlays and lots of thinking and planning too. Nothing beats challenging yourself.
Well done.

You will get lots of answers on getting the photo straight but my go-to is simply cropping slightly after rotating. It seems to re-set the image in a way that simply rotating does not.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Redoak49's profile


5022 posts in 2957 days

#3 posted 05-19-2019 04:31 PM

Absolutely stunning workmanship…

View sscartozzi's profile


69 posts in 2728 days

#4 posted 05-19-2019 05:34 PM

Really masterful workmanship. Really neat because I also live in Chester County PA. I’ve been meaning to try wanting to make one of these. Maybe I will get a chance after I get done making what my daughter and daughter-in-law want built.

-- Steve, Malvern, PA

View sras's profile (online now)


5755 posts in 4097 days

#5 posted 05-19-2019 06:06 PM

I m always impressed by these projects. Yours is no exception! Excellent work!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6637 posts in 1550 days

#6 posted 05-19-2019 07:36 PM

Great workmanship, and I like the design. My favorite inlay might be on the inside of the door, though! Thanks for sharing!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View tomd's profile


2221 posts in 4738 days

#7 posted 05-20-2019 01:23 AM

Looks great, very good work. Love it.

-- Tom D

View Horus's profile


60 posts in 636 days

#8 posted 05-20-2019 03:33 AM


I can only aspire to the level of skill you demonstrate with this piece.

View TungOil's profile


1383 posts in 1463 days

#9 posted 05-20-2019 03:56 AM

Beautiful work!

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View becikeja's profile


1159 posts in 3781 days

#10 posted 05-20-2019 09:48 AM

Great piece

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View CampD's profile


1818 posts in 4454 days

#11 posted 05-20-2019 12:47 PM

Absolutely gorgeous piece, well done!

-- Doug...

View bbrown's profile


356 posts in 4520 days

#12 posted 05-20-2019 06:49 PM

Thanks to everyone for the kind comments. I really need to get some better photos – the lighting did not due justice to the inlay or finish.

Sscartozzi, I also lived in Malvern! My dad’s tree nursery sign is still there near Sugartown Rd. on Paoli Pike: Sam Brown Nursery. He retired about 25 years ago though.

Dave Polaschek, That inlay is my favourite too :)

-- Traditional Woodworking & Carving classes at my shop in Coastal Maine:

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3596 posts in 4680 days

#13 posted 05-21-2019 03:21 AM


That’s a really gorgeous piece. My favorite part is the surprise fan carving inside.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Calmudgeon's profile


412 posts in 2395 days

#14 posted 05-22-2019 01:04 PM

Beautiful piece.

-- "As are the things we make, so are we ourselves." - Lin Yutang

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