Boxguy Uses His Imagination

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Project by Boxguy posted 11-22-2012 08:09 AM 3424 views 10 times favorited 38 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Pictured: This is a medium sized tea box (11×7 x 5 inches) designed to hold about 75 normal teabags. The distinctive grain you see in the top is a California Walnut Burl laid up in a cluster pattern. The sides are quarter-sawn White Oak with Black Walnut corner splines. The divider unit is made from recycled Venetian blinds. (Yes, I did go back and clean up the glue squeeze-out.)

Story: Over a century ago, large plantations of walnut trees were planted in California and farmers harvested the nuts these trees produced. As time went on, these walnut trees became less productive and were in turn harvested and replaced with new trees. The old trees were grafted stock with European Walnut roots and American Walnut trunks (scions). This fabulous veneer is made by digging up the old tree stumps and slicing veneer from the area where the two species of walnut trees were grafted together. As you can imagine, such veneer can be expensive.

The White Oak sides and Black Walnut corner splines came from trees that grew in Indiana. Like thousands and thousands of other trees, these were blown over by the tailwinds of Hurricane Ike in 2008. I like to think that making a heritage-quality box that will give a lifetime of useful service is a way of extending the life of these wonderful trees.

Title: I leave it up to your imagination to see what pictures you find in this crazy, mixed-up, and distinctive grain pattern. I see several. Look at the side patterns in the top as well. It is one of the mysteries of working with fine woods that you find yourself peering into the soul of some ancient tree when you apply that first coat of finish and see the grain “pop.” That is the first time you really know what the grain looks like. This is another box that was part of my opening at a local gallery last week, and I am very grateful to all of those patrons who support my work.

Thanks: As always thanks to all who take time to look at this posting. A special thanks to all of you who take the extra time to add comments or make suggestions.

Please check back. I will reply to each of your comments and suggestions in batches for the next few days.

-- Big Al in IN

38 comments so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3391 days

#1 posted 11-22-2012 10:26 AM

Al your boxes are on an other level.

This one is just beautiful


-- 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 grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3838 days

#2 posted 11-22-2012 12:25 PM

very beautiful, i love that top, great choice, it really makes the box pop…i do have a suggestion though, i have a different way of using some cord instead of chain, if your interested, let me know…:)...happy thanksgiving buddy…lol

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 3047 days

#3 posted 11-22-2012 12:57 PM

Breath taking, a true work of art both the wood it’s self and your creation Big Al.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 2943 days

#4 posted 11-22-2012 12:58 PM

A definite eye-catcher. Very nice work.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View jbschutz's profile


581 posts in 3226 days

#5 posted 11-22-2012 12:59 PM

Al, she’s a beaut! The walnut burl is spectacular and the box is beautifully crafted. Happy Turkey. I am thankful to be a LJer and to be able to share in the bounty of your posts.

-- jbschutz

View sedcokid's profile


2736 posts in 4133 days

#6 posted 11-22-2012 01:07 PM

Al, this is a gorgeous box! The top sets it off, all in all this is just beautiful!

Thanks for sharing

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View Roger's profile


21013 posts in 3339 days

#7 posted 11-22-2012 01:11 PM

This is one fine piece o work. That top is really putting some images in my head. Wow!

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2827 days

#8 posted 11-22-2012 01:19 PM

Beautiful match and use of California walnut burl.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Tag84's profile


573 posts in 3191 days

#9 posted 11-22-2012 01:21 PM

beautiful boxguy!

-- -Thomas -

View Dusty56's profile


11852 posts in 4223 days

#10 posted 11-22-2012 02:41 PM

It is gorgeous all the way around. I could peer into that top for hours !
Do you apply any finish to the inside of tea boxes ?
thanks and Happy Thanksgiving : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View jumbojack's profile


1689 posts in 3159 days

#11 posted 11-22-2012 03:04 PM

Another fine example of your work Al. I like the interior space for the chain to fall into. The three finger lid pull is catchy as well.
Happy Thanksgiving.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Boxguy's profile


2859 posts in 2802 days

#12 posted 11-22-2012 03:29 PM

Early morning replies:

Jamie, thanks, this build is something most woodworkers could do with patience, jigs, and tools.

Griz, Thanks for the suggestion, but until I use up the 50 feet of chain I bought, I’ll stick to the chain. However, if you would like to send the info about the cord along, I would be glad to look at it for the future.

Blackie, thanks and glad your show went well. Tell us about the next one too.

Jay, your “Blame Mark Smith” box is especially wabi-sabi.

JB, a happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as well. Your palm crosses are a great idea.

Chuck, thanks the walnut cluster is a beautiful pattern.

Roger, thanks, but it is a little scary for me to think about what might be going on in your head.

Hillbilly John, thanks, I was fortunate to have access to such a beautiful piece of walnut.

Tag84, always good to hear from the Dutch contingent of Lumberland.

Dusty, I do apply a finish to the inside of my tea boxes. I have concluded that with modern, sealed foil and Mylar packages there will be no chance of finish odor compromising the tea inside. Loose tea is another problem.

Jumbo, I have used the chain pocket for a while and it works well for teaboxes. The three indent finger lift is a new addition this year.

-- Big Al in IN

View rtbrmb's profile


719 posts in 2923 days

#13 posted 11-22-2012 03:38 PM

Big Al;

Absolutely beautiful box. Including the story of where the wood came from, especially the Walnut burl veneer, is a great added touch you provide.

I have to admit that I had never heard of grafting & it caused a separate search on the web and it is an amazing topic of its own. Do you have some connection in California that supplies you that awesome veneer ?

Have a great Thanksgiving and thanks for sharing your latest work.

Bill in MI

View blackcherry's profile


3343 posts in 4358 days

#14 posted 11-22-2012 03:43 PM

BoxGuy this one came out wonderfully, and the divider are a nice touch nice think on your part…thanks for posting…BC

View DocSavage45's profile


8872 posts in 3377 days

#15 posted 11-22-2012 03:48 PM

Title: Rorshach Box! Wabi Sabi- And a good Thanks Giving!

You’re getting to be a master at tellin a tale as well.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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