Marquetry Tea Boxes

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Project by mauibob posted 03-24-2014 01:49 PM 2657 views 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Recently, I was asked to submit an item to a silent auction to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. The auction took place at the Sing Strong A Cappella festival in Washington DC last month. My future son-in-law Jonathan was the executive producer for the show, and my daughter Judith was the director of the “Single Singers”, a group comprised of all those singers attending the festival and who did not already belong to a group.

I had fairly recently come off a commissioned project for a tea box with a marquetry top depicting an early 19th century painting that the client and his wife really loved. The tea box was well received and I found myself getting more and more requests for similar boxes, so I went to work creating one for the festival.

First of all, I have to give complete credit for the marquetry design of this box to Dennis Zonger’s great book “Wooden Boxes” from Taunton Press, particularly his Music Box design. (If you are a box builder and don’t have this volume, you are certainly missing out on a load of valuable tips and insights!)

I used Dennis’ marquetry design for the musical score with two violins, and created the box for tea bags shown. The box was a success at the silent auction, getting one of the highest prices for items donated. Thanks, Dennis!

The pictures illustrate the box and its twin which has been made for the silent auction at the Sing Strong festival to be held in Chicago next month. If you’re in the Chicagoland area in early April, check this festival out—you will be amazed by the wide variety of talented a cappella performers.

The first box was made of cherry, maple, Hawaiian koa, holly, sapele, ipe, walnut and walnut burl veneer. The bandings were shop made. The second replaced the cherry with Chechen rosewood and used a slightly different combination of the shop sawn veneers for the design.

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

9 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


8781 posts in 4138 days

#1 posted 03-24-2014 02:27 PM

Well done Bob.
Two lovely boxes and two thoughtful donations. You are a good man.
How thick are your shop sawn veneers?

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

View steve_in_ohio's profile


1195 posts in 2950 days

#2 posted 03-24-2014 02:31 PM

wow, that is beautiful, great work

-- steve, simple and effective

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4206 days

#3 posted 03-24-2014 02:36 PM

Beautiful and beautifully done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View mauibob's profile


257 posts in 4407 days

#4 posted 03-24-2014 03:02 PM

Hi Paul,

The veneers on this piece varied a bit. The marquetry was started on 3/32” pieces, but when I made the banding many moons ago, it was just shy of 1/16”. So, after completing the marquetry piece, it was drum sanded to closely match the striped banding prior to assembly. The walnut burl veneer on the inner side of the lid was 1/42” or so. Since the marquetry panel is held captive in the case, I’m never worried about opposing forces on the top causing it to warp with the disparate thicknesses.

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 5264 days

#5 posted 03-24-2014 03:53 PM

Fantastic work Bob. I wish I knew about the event my wife and I would have loved to go see it so let me know if you hear of any more. We feel like mushrooms out here in the country this is about all the culture we get . That was very nice of you to donate your work.

View mike1950's profile


364 posts in 3138 days

#6 posted 03-24-2014 03:55 PM

VERY nice work.

-- "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is."– Albert Einstein

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4376 days

#7 posted 03-24-2014 05:19 PM

Delightful, Bob. Skilled work indeed.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Woodenwizard's profile


1369 posts in 4383 days

#8 posted 03-25-2014 05:13 AM

Very well done Bob! A super craftsman with a servants heart. A great combination.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2864 posts in 4932 days

#9 posted 03-25-2014 12:52 PM

Hi Bob,

I was just looking at your beautiful Tea Box from the 19th Century C Drawing, and seen the violins and said hey that looks familiar.

I think you did a fantastic job on the marquetry and the box, words can’t describe the joy I’m feeling right now, that my book could help a fellow woodworker. It makes those five years of hard work well worth it!!!

And then to know that you made it for a silent auction for Alzheimer’s. Like Paul said, You are a good Man!!!!

-- Dennis Zongker

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