Arnie's Tea Box

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Project by shipwright posted 06-23-2011 12:41 AM 5305 views 29 times favorited 49 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a tea box that I built for my sailing friend Arnie. He was a career navy sailor before retirement and spent time in Canada’s sailing embassador “Oriole”. He has also done considerable offshore sailing on his own so the theme of the box is fitting. And oh yes, he’s a tea drinker.

One of the things about learning classic style marquetry is that after you have finished the piece you were working on, you still have several identical motifs left over and a search begins for places to use them. This box includes one of the tea clipper motifs that I did originally for the face of my chevalet as well as the smaller albatross that I used to demonstrate the Boulle style in my marquetry styles blog:

The box is made from spalted big leaf Maple with the top frame dyed black. The field veneer on the outside of the lid is the same Maple and on the inside is Eucalyptus. The splines are ebony.
The Arbutus dividers are not glued either together or into the box – for easy cleaning.
Everything is assembled with hide glue rubbed joints. No clamps were used except to press the marquetry.

About that hinge, I have been looking around and did an LJ’s search but can’t find any record of a hinge like this one. I did invent it but I am also sure that I can’t be the first. It is the easiest to make wooden hinge I have ever seen, really, and it aligns and moves beautifully. It is completely blind and stops just past 90 degrees. I am going to use this hinge a lot in the future.

Thanks for looking,

As always, comments questions and critiques are welcome.

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

49 comments so far

View tdv's profile


1203 posts in 3990 days

#1 posted 06-23-2011 12:48 AM

brilliant job Paul

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 4166 days

#2 posted 06-23-2011 01:22 AM

Looks like you found a great use for your leftovers. A beautiful box your friend will love. Nice job on the hinge design. Does the hinge pin go all the way through?

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3842 days

#3 posted 06-23-2011 01:29 AM

This is a job of a master. I can see from all angles the perfectness of an old method, control by hand is the best… I’ve been watching all that marquetry jobs and finally the perfect box. Excellent and a very expensive tea box… Annie will surely change her mind to let it be a jewels’ box rather than just tea… Thanks for posting.
God bless,

-- Bert

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3842 days

#4 posted 06-23-2011 01:32 AM

Paul, forgot to tell you that the hinges is perfect. I like it very much that someday I may copy it. I think the pin is about 2 mm diameter. thanks

-- Bert

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 3873 days

#5 posted 06-23-2011 01:39 AM

Wow, boats and boxes. Hard to find a parallel for that kind of skill. And, a “custom” box, no doubt.

The box is stunning. The hinge is a very nice, and special, detail, whether anyone else has done it or not. The inlays, of course, are uniquely your own and very lovely, indeed. I like this box a lot. Boxes are also a particularly appropriate canvas upon which your marquetry art can be appropriately displayed. Hope you will make more.

Nicely done, sir.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View cathyb's profile


843 posts in 4164 days

#6 posted 06-23-2011 01:50 AM

Paul you’ve pushed me over the edge now. My next project will be the veneer press. Once I have completed that, I’ll take on a piece with marquetry. I’ll have to read your blog to get some pointers, but I won’t disappoint you (yes, that pun was intended). Thank you for inspiring me to take on a new adventure.
By the way, I love that box!

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3776 days

#7 posted 06-23-2011 01:57 AM

They just get better


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4228 days

#8 posted 06-23-2011 01:57 AM

Paul, that is really nice box with some excellent work. Fantastic work on the ship and seagull.
The hinges look great…but how did you get the holes for the pins drilled along its length…or are they just pins in the ends?

View SPalm's profile


5336 posts in 4802 days

#9 posted 06-23-2011 02:07 AM

Oh my Gosh, that is nice.
Lot of stuff going here.

Hide glue and you. You found a friend.

You will have to do a blog on dyeing. That looks great.

Brit’s Impossible III has a somewhat similar hinge. It looks like a nice way of doing it, it you can plan ahead that much. The only problem that I see with it is that the grain is going the wrong way. Probably not a problem, but just don’t make it too thin.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12263 posts in 4348 days

#10 posted 06-23-2011 02:18 AM

A true work of art.
How about a hinge tute?

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View peteg's profile


4436 posts in 3743 days

#11 posted 06-23-2011 02:38 AM

Another Masterclass Paul.
You have very lucky friend & I am sure he will simply look at this piece every time there’s a Cuppa break & admire every little detail & the work gone into it.
A classy piece of work my friend :)

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View Napaman's profile


5533 posts in 4997 days

#12 posted 06-23-2011 02:55 AM

In California a tea box means something very different…but that is a different matter…a truly beautiful tribute to a friend…

Love the story of the hinge…and love the spalted maple…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View shipwright's profile


8621 posts in 3718 days

#13 posted 06-23-2011 02:59 AM

Thanks everyone

I will try to answer the questions so far.

KayBee, no the hinge pin is blind it does not pierce either end.

Bert, It’s 1/8” brass rod

Greg, The pin runs the entire length of the box and you won’t believe how easy it is.

Steve, Martyn’s post says he followed your hinge tutorial, so I suspect he used a drill. mine is way easier than that. The pin is so long and has so much surface area that it’s very strong even in soft Maple.

OK, OK, so here’s the big secret, it’s just so darn simple. No blog required.

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

View SPalm's profile


5336 posts in 4802 days

#14 posted 06-23-2011 03:28 AM

You are a very clever man, Paul.
You got skills. I love it.

Again, a very well done box,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3590 posts in 4632 days

#15 posted 06-23-2011 03:57 AM


Everything about your box is exquisite! Your work is exceptional , , , such beautiful pictures to ponder, including the simply gorgeous “quilt” background!

We’ll have to try those hinges. They add a really special touch.


-- “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.

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