Boxguy's Honey Is A Locust

  • Advertise with us
Project by Boxguy posted 01-11-2014 11:32 AM 4183 views 18 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Thanks for looking at this project. I will reply to all of you Lumberlanders out there who take time to “have your say” in the next 24 hours, so check back for feedback. There is a tutorial index at the end of this posting that will show you how to build the jigs and learn the techniques for building boxes like this teabox.

Pictured is a (11 x 7 x 5 1/4) teabox with 9 compartments designed to hold about 50 packets of tea. The small ”chain pocket” on the left-hand side is meant to capture the chain and keep it from tangling with the teabags. The dividers are made of recycled wooden Venetian blinds.

Woods: The top is made from a local Honeylocust tree. (hence the “honey is a locust” title) The sides are from a Black Cherry tree that grew nearby and the corner splines are from a Brazilian Sucupira tree. I love the way this sucupira glows in the light as it rounds these corners.

This close-up shows some of the nice mottling in the quarter-sawn Black Cherry.

The colors in these three woods seem to really work well together I know the cherry and sucupira will darken with time. I don’t know what the locust will do. If anyone out there has an old piece made of Honeylocust and can tell me how it ages, let me know.

Focus: Buying directly from the sawmill is an inexpensive way to get great wood. If you are making boxes you don’t want the wood that furniture makers need. You want the wood with wild grain and crazy patterns. Usually the second or third board cut from the tree are my favorites. The first cut usually has too much sap wood. Many of our local mills have a stack of sticked wood that they set aside some time and it is already dried. If you buy wood green, you should stack it and put spacers between the layers. Wood stacked with spacers is commonly called “sticked” wood. Air dried wood with a rain proof top usually dries at one inch per year. So, if you buy one-inch boards at the start of one summer you can usually use them at the start of the next summer.

Several people in our area have made a business of kiln drying wood. Of course it is more expensive than buying green wood, but it is more likely to be stable, and you can use it right away. Buying directly from the dryer is another way to save money on boards. Who knows, you may even be able to trade a box for some boards. I always try.

Keep boxing and keep posting.

Tutorials: For methods used to make boxes like those pictured above just click on the blue links below. They are arranged by topic.

Combining Wood Colors:
Jig for 45ing corners:
Routers and Rounding edges
Why round box corners?
Organizing a glue-up table:
$5 band clamps:
Making splines with a simple jig:
Adding splines to a box:
Making a jig to cut spline slots:
Measuring for spline slot cuts:
Installing an attached top: like that pictured above.
Cutting off the box top and sizing piano hinges
Adding finger indents:
More about finger indents.
Mortising and installing hinges:
Tips on making trays: for inside boxes:
Finishing tips:
Swapping Wood By Mail:

-- Big Al in IN

28 comments so far

View jakopo's profile


129 posts in 3197 days

#1 posted 01-11-2014 11:56 AM

I really like your project too I’m practicing to make the spline.

-- --Jakopo--

View CFrye's profile


11357 posts in 3078 days

#2 posted 01-11-2014 12:05 PM

Lovely tea box Big Al. Certainly much better looking than cardboard. The chain pocket is a great touch. I’d be proud to have this on my table. Thanks for the sawmill info. I’ve recently located one nearby and am planning a trip. Thank you for sharing everything.

-- God bless, Candy

View captferd's profile


174 posts in 3631 days

#3 posted 01-11-2014 12:06 PM

another fine project

-- CaptFerd

View Dave Haynes's profile

Dave Haynes

203 posts in 4591 days

#4 posted 01-11-2014 12:57 PM

O.K. Box Guy…......I have a couple of questions for ya. Did you use a router bit for the dados to fit the dividers into? If so, what is the thickness of the slats that you used and what size router bit? I have a ton of these old Venetian blind slats that I have saved for this exact purpose. But, when I went looking locally for a bit to rout the dados, I couldn’t find one that matched the thickness of these slats. I have forgotten now what the dimension was but I still have a ton of these slats out in the shop that I’d love to use.

I did make a tea box that I have listed at my Etsy store ( where I used some hard maple scraps milled down to 1/8” thickness and where I had a router bit of that size.

I didn’t see in your tutorials how you made the grooves for these slats. Can you help?

-- Dave Haynes, Indiana,

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4042 days

#5 posted 01-11-2014 01:31 PM

Another beauty for sure Al

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

View Boxguy's profile


2901 posts in 3505 days

#6 posted 01-11-2014 03:28 PM

Jackopo, thanks. Splines do take some practice and a good jig.

Candy, You are right, I do strive to have most of my boxes look a little better than cardboard :0). let me know how the saw mill visit goes. Take something to trade on the second visit for sure. Remember there will be quite a bit of waste when you are starting with rough, green wood.

Captferd, good to hear from you again. Thanks for the kind words.

Dave, nice looking box you have on Etsy. The next time I make a teabox I will do a pictured tutorial on dividers. My shop is solar heated, and it has been so cold that I sort of took the last month off to visit family, go to movies, and cheer on the Colts.

My dividers are made as a unit and they lift out of the box. The unit is tightly fitted so it doesn’t rattle around in the box, but it is not inserted into the box sides. I cut the divider slots with a 1/8 inch table saw blade, not a router. They are half lapped. That is to say I cut half way through the bottom on the shorter cross pieces and half way through the top on the long pieces. I tape the same sized pieces together and cut all the length-wise slots at once, then cut the slots on the cross pieces.

I dry fit the dividers in the box and then remove one cross piece at a time and put a drop of glue in the slots of the removed piece. I replace the glued piece and remove the next cross piece. I let the glue dry while the dividers sit in the box. that way the box acts as a form, and I am sure it will fit and be square as it dries.

All the Venetian blinds I have ever bought are exactly 1/8 inch thick and the 1/8 inch saw blade cut results in a good snug fit. Do not pull the cut back through the blade. It will make the slot too wide. Make the cut, lift the taped-up slat bundle above the blade, pull your miter gauge back, and move to the next cut position and make the next cut, again using the miter gauge.

Dave, if I have left something else out please ask. I really need to do that tutorial next time someone is working with me in the shop. Thanks for the question.

The Woodshow will be at the Indy State Fairgrounds next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If you have never been to The Woodshow I think you might enjoy it and pick up some information. Take money to buy tools.

Roger, good to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words. Hope you are having fun in your shop.

-- Big Al in IN

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4104 days

#7 posted 01-11-2014 03:33 PM

Al, this is a beautiful box and you’ve done a fine job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4546 days

#8 posted 01-11-2014 04:03 PM

That is another really nice box you have created Al. Those woods work nice together.
I know you will be at the woodshow you mentioned. I sure wish they had a woodshow somewhere close to where I live…there has not been one in many years.

View Dave Haynes's profile

Dave Haynes

203 posts in 4591 days

#9 posted 01-11-2014 04:14 PM

Hey boxguy…......

Thanks for the info. I don’t know why I never thought of that method since I used this method when I made a Lego’s display case for a customer. There were 144 compartments in this project that I made and inserted into a case frame in the same manner as you just described. You can see the final result in my write-up of one of my posted projects. The only problem is that, in the project, I used maple planed down to 1/4” thickness and used a dado cutting set to produce the slots. Since posting my questions this morning, I measured the thickness of my Venetian blind slats and they are .090 thick. I would not be able to find a saw blade that thin I don’t think, so this would be a problem.

I might Google the net to see if anybody makes a 3/32” straight router bit, then I would be able to accomplish either of the methods. If you or anyone else knows of a supplier for this size bit, let me know. Thanks for your post….your tea box looks awesome!

-- Dave Haynes, Indiana,

View jbschutz's profile


615 posts in 3929 days

#10 posted 01-11-2014 04:25 PM

Great box, big Al. The wood combo is harmonious, and the design, elegant. I have a piece of honey locust stashed out in the garage, waiting for just the right project. Maybe this will get me moving on it.

-- jbschutz

View rrdesigns's profile


541 posts in 4424 days

#11 posted 01-11-2014 04:47 PM

Love the soft edges and the contrasting lid. Have you thought about adding another slat to match the one next to the chain (just for balance)?

-- Beth, Oklahoma, Rambling Road Designs

View GrandpaLen's profile


1652 posts in 3510 days

#12 posted 01-11-2014 04:59 PM

She’s a Beauty and you always achieve the best woodgrain enhancement.

Very nice ‘Fit and Finish’

Best Regards. – Len

Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Dan P's profile

Dan P

755 posts in 3130 days

#13 posted 01-11-2014 06:03 PM

Another great box Al. You seem to have developed a technique of maximum beauty with minimal complexity. Very impressive.
You have mentioned you use TiteBond cabinet makers glue in your projects. I know you’ve been asked this before, but do you still have full confidence of the stability of the top piece holding over time?
I want to try that but something keeps stopping me. Maybe it’s harder than it looks. LOL


-- Daniel P

View Boxguy's profile


2901 posts in 3505 days

#14 posted 01-11-2014 07:30 PM


Charles, good to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words. Haven’t seen one of your projects in a while. Hope all is well.

Greg, so now you are Gollum? “What have I got in my pocket?” I liked this color combination so well I made several boxes using cherry and used the whole Honeylocust board as tops. I varied the sizes, splines, and the purposes of the boxes, but it was a fun set of builds and took most of a month to complete the set. To make it even more fun I plan to make the 100 mile trip to the Indianapolis Woodshow with three of my wood working buddies, and we will share stories on the way there and back home again.

Dave, I am not up on my thousands to inch equivalence charts, but they make some pretty thin, thin kerf saw blades. I’ve never run across any wooden slats that were not 1/8 or close enough to it to make dividers. Remember, they do get glued together.

John (JB), the words “harmonious” and “elegant” are difficult to live up to, thanks. I am looking forward to seeing some more projects made of this wood. This is the first time I have worked with Honeylocust. I really like the color.

Beth, that is a good idea, what a nice eye you have for design. I have tried having a small pocket on both sides of the dividers on some teaboxes, and it does look better. The problems I had were that it took extra time and material, but most of all the small, thin outside part wanted to crack across the grain at the base of the slit that holds the cross piece. So I decided to just risk this on the one side that has the chain. I also add extra glue to this particular crossing joint since it is too narrow to show squeeze out well. But you are exactly right, it does balance and improve the look. Thanks for casting a critical and discerning eye on my work. If you have other suggestions to add feel free to do so. I appreciate your helpful advice, thanks.

Len, always good to hear from you. Good luck with the miniature golf project. Seems like just your thing. With your shop all fixed up, you might be ready to look at some more tools. The Woodshow is coming to the Indy Fairgrounds next week. I think you’d like seeing it.

Daniel, I can’t say I have full confidence in any cross-grain build; however, the ones I did five years ago are still doing well. I use dried wood, usually quarter sawn, and these boxes have pretty small cross grained areas. I am sure a floating panel would be more of a sure thing, but I really like the way these look and feel so the temptation to make them is irresistible to me. Modern homes do a great job of maintaining humidity and that adds to the stability of the wood in that environment.

For me the key to making these joints perfect is the press I made to glue them up. It takes a ton of clamps to do this same job.

-- Big Al in IN

View nate22's profile


501 posts in 4113 days

#15 posted 01-12-2014 02:14 AM

Nice looking box. I’m just starting to get into box making. So mine are pretty simple so far. I make mine out of soft maple. I’m always looking for tips on how to make them. But nice looking box.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

showing 1 through 15 of 28 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics