Wenge Tea Box

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Project by Lenny posted 12-26-2019 09:39 PM 2128 views 8 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I bought a board of wenge at The Woodworking Show this past January. I had never worked with it and the beauty of it just called out to me. I recently saw a rerun of a Classic Woodworking episode in which, Mike Pekovich joined Tom McLaughlin and they made a tea box from wenge. The die was cast. I went through my back issues of Fine Woodworking and pulled out issue #269, Aug 2018. An article on Pekovich’s build of the box was there but not complete plan details (e.g., size and layout of dovetails and pins).
Besides the wood itself, the key feature of this box is the proud hand-cut dovetail joinery. I’m still not a fan of making hand-cut dovetails but I am getting better at them. Since I had some birdseye maple on hand, I followed Pekovich’s lead and used it for the tea box lining. I wandered from Pekovich’s design in two areas. First, I did not make the clever magnetic corded clasp and secondly I did not incorporate the added texture Pekovich designed, using a wire brush on the box and leaving tooling marks (for example band saw roughness).
The box measures out at 10-3/8 inches long by 4 inches wide by 5 inches tall including the base. The lining is joined via mitered corners held by glue alone. The dividers get beveled ends that fit into milled v-grooves. The lining fits snugly in the box and registers placement of the lid.
As I noted above, wenge is a beautiful species on its own. Apply a finish to it and BAM, it really comes to life. While appearing a milk chocolate color pre-finish, it turned to a deep, dark, rich chocolate color. I tried to capture the difference in photo #6 but I don’t know if you will be able to detect the variance. I went with 3 coats of aerosol shellac on the interior. The exterior got 2 coats of shellac followed by 2 coats of Deft aerosol satin lacquer. I then applied Howard’s Feed N Wax inside and out using 0000 steel wool.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

12 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118258 posts in 4821 days

#1 posted 12-26-2019 09:55 PM

Beautiful tea box Lenny the wenge looks great. When I think of wenge I always think of David Marks he’s a big wenge fan,


View MrWolfe's profile


1669 posts in 1367 days

#2 posted 12-27-2019 12:22 AM

Beautiful box and the wenge and birdseye maple really compliment each other.
Great job on the dovetails!

View AJ1104's profile


1365 posts in 2903 days

#3 posted 12-27-2019 12:50 AM

Nice looking box with great joinery. I like the proud dovetails and your own twist on the original design.

-- AJ

View Woodenwizard's profile


1369 posts in 4287 days

#4 posted 12-27-2019 07:12 AM

Haven’t used any wenge but as usual you have inspired me to give it a try. Have a GREAT and BLESSED new year.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4819 days

#5 posted 12-27-2019 08:01 AM

Wenge is hard to work with.
Lots of splinters…lol
You did a nice job Lenny.
And that figure on the Maple is cool too.

View Ivan's profile


17012 posts in 4111 days

#6 posted 12-27-2019 08:25 AM

I like those inner compartments

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Peteybadboy's profile


4010 posts in 3193 days

#7 posted 12-27-2019 11:15 AM

Really like this. I plan to make one myself. Thanks for posting.

-- Petey

View Lenny's profile


1721 posts in 4771 days

#8 posted 12-27-2019 11:27 AM

Thank you for the comments!

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4578 days

#9 posted 12-27-2019 12:41 PM

Nice one Lenny. I especially liked the way you left the dovetails slightly proud. It gives the box a very distinctive appearance. I also liked the inner contrasting insides.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View 489tad's profile


4060 posts in 4255 days

#10 posted 12-27-2019 02:15 PM

Beautiful box. Your rendition is spot on.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View Ken90712's profile


18067 posts in 4432 days

#11 posted 12-28-2019 03:03 PM

Great project buddy. Happy new yr.

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

View Lenny's profile


1721 posts in 4771 days

#12 posted 12-28-2019 03:15 PM

Thank you Mike, Dan and Ken.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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