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Project Information

Pictured: A medium sized tea chest (14×6 1/2×5 1/2) with crotch mahogany top, American walnut sides, maple corner splines, and internal dividers made from a Venetian blind. This tea chest features a mortised continuous hinge, chain pocket, and lift-out sweetener caddy.

Focus:
In this post I want to focus on the interior workings of this tea chest.

The Chain: As you can see, the chain is attached just behind the divider and the top is attached at a point slightly closer to the hinge pin than the bottom. This means the chain will fall behind the front attachment point and drop nicely into the small "pocket" to the left. The advantage of a pocket is that the chain doesn't become entangled with the teabags, and the extra room lets you fit in the sweetener caddy.

The Caddy: I buy these in bulk at a local restaurant supply store. Clear goes with any color of wood. Cutting away the front segment of the chain pocket with a band saw gives me enough room to fit this caddy into the box. The space for a tea bag is not quite wide enough for the caddy.

The Dividers: These are made from recycled wooden Venetian blinds that I buy at Goodwill and the Habitat Restore. Using these slats saves me a great deal of time cutting, sizing, and finishing. They are all made accurately at 1/8 inch. I try to keep a variety of colors on hand. A matching touch up pen will cover any nicks and splintering. I cut slightly more than half way through the tops of the horizontal dividers and slightly more than half way through the bottoms of the vertical dividers. Then slide them together.

Hint: Use masking tape to hold all the same lengths together and then, using your miter gauge, make just a single pass over your table saw blade. Do not go over and back. Two passes will widen the slot and loosen the fit. A quality 1/8 inch blade will give you a snug fit.

I put a piece of aluminum foil in the bottom of the box, dry fit the dividers, remove the verticals one at a time and add just a small spot of glue in the slots before putting the verticals back in place. Wipe away any excess glue before it dries. The box will act as a jig to hold the dividers square and you can be sure they will fit back into the box after the glue is dry.

Thanks: As always, thanks for looking. A special thanks to all of you who take the extra time to add comment or make suggestions. Keep boxing and keep posting.

Gallery

Comments

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4,174 Posts
Al that is an incredible tea box your finish

is mirror. It must be for some good Tea

Jamie
 

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28,289 Posts
Absolutely gorgeous is all I can say!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
......Jim
 

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this one has that beautiful mahogany shimmer tp it and it would look so nice in anyones home, if it were not for tea, i could see this on someones dresser with jewelry in it..as always, a beauty….have you ever tried using ambrosia maple for the box, ive got some and i have seen some other things made from it, and it looks very nice also…think it over….great job al
 

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Beautiful wood, outstanding design, perfect construction and great finish. I don't have any suggestions for a piece all one can do is step back and admire. Excellent write up as always.
 

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144 Posts
Great box! Love that Walnut.
I'd love to hear a couple of words about the finish and your technique.
 

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Great box, Al. The use of blind slats for internal dividers is brilliant…...gotta keep that in mind. The wood is beautiful and he design is well thought out. Great craftsmanship, too.
 

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235 Posts
Wonderful as always.
 

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great box-really like the choice of woods-the blind slats are a great time saver and good looking-did you finish the inside with the same finish as the outside-some say not to finish the inside for fear the tea will absorb the solvent smell-your thougths-thank you for the post great ideas in the project.
 

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Thanks for show and tell re: inside the box, while thinking outside the box. :)
 

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Gorgeous tea box. Thanks for the tips in construction. You are the master indeed.
 

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Superb tea box in every detail : ) The grain and color in that lid is fantastic !
Right into my Favorites with this one : )
 

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279 Posts
That thing is just gorgeous! If you mentioned how and with what you finished it, I must have missed it. I sure would like to know. It looks like an old fashioned hand rubbed finish!

I too thank you for the idea about the blinds!
 

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Very nice. I like all of the details. I have had thoughts of building one of these and it always becomes something else.
 

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A real beauty! Great design and love the wood. I really enjoyed reading your explanation of the process as well. Nice post!
 

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Wow! I got behind on responses while working today. This is a reply to all the comments so far. Thanks for sending them.

Jim J., thanks for the high praise.

Grizz, thanks for the compliment. I liked that chess board you made. I have made some things of Ambrosia Maple, but on a small box I find I need to be careful that it doesn't get too busy.

Hill, thanks for such nice remarks.

Roger, always glad to hear from you.

Dano, my finish technique is primitive. Sand to 800 grit. I use 0000 steel wool after each coat. First Minwax wipe-on Tung Oil. 3 coats of Minwax wipe-on poly. 1 coat of Johnson's paste wax. All are applied with at 1 inch wide foam brush that I by in the 100 count bag at Hobby Lobby.

J.B., using blind slats really makes tea boxes easier.

Klutz, thanks.

Dean, good question about finish and tea. It is not likely that tea sealed in a Mylar or foil bag will contract the finish smell. No customers have complained. I also give my boxes plenty of time to cure before I sell them.
Loose tea would be another matter.

Doc, I don't think I ever quite recovered from show and tell time in second grade. I would call it "Shellitis."

Grump, you should know that I learn something new with every box I make. Having made hundreds helps.

Dusty 56, crotch mahogany is really beautiful stuff.

Cathy, thanks. Does this top look like your grandmother's bed? I really liked your recent round of lamps. Pretty stuff.

Jim 55, please look above at my reply to Dano…he asked first. I detailed my primitive finish techniques there. Thanks.

Robert T., you should try making a few tea chests. They sell well and take less time to make than jewelry boxes.

Ken, thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed the details.
 

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Thanks for the reply on the finishing. I wouldn't call that "primitive" I'd say "Tried and proven" and "if it works, don't fix it." There's no question whether it works for you. That finish bears it out.
 

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good ideas and tips for the inner workings. (oh and the top is gorgeous too. I can say that, right? ;)
 

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That is one stunning box!!
 
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