Tea chest – maple/walnut – 2015:2016

I drink too much coffee and I shouldn’t read internet comments.  I know at least these two truths.  Perusing the infinite woodworking blogsphere I came across some joe-schmo claiming it couldn’t be done.  The author casually remarked that you can’t cut key mitered joints without a table saw or yet worse a router.  And so I set forth to make a keyed-mitered dovetail box with nothing more than my hands and a slew of fancy planes.  Miters in themselves are a weak joint – the key that cuts across the angle reinforces the joint by allowing cross grain gluing on both pieces.  The box sat unfinished for several month – so many in fact that I don’t have the same office to display it in.  Either way, the chest is designed to encourage me to reach for tea rather than coffee as the afternoon wears on and I have a hankering for something.  I used hard maple, left over from a tool caddie I made several years ago as the base of the box – each scrap finds its place with time.

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The chest is sized to hold tea bags on one side and tea canisters from Townsend on the other.  It is reminiscent in function to the chest I made for David, and in form to the box I made for Lisa.

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The top is black walnut – rather than using the method I learned from Roy Underhill – I attached a fence planed on a 1:6 angle to a skew plane.  If you are not going to get a dedicated panel raising plan this is about as easy as you can make the task.  Christopher Schwartz laid out the approach.

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The trick was to size the keys correctly.  I planed a long board – and simply checked my angle against a bevel.   No fancy jigs required.  After the grooves were cut, I slide the keys into place and cleaned off the waste with a flush saw. Okay, it wasn’t quite that easy – usually it took a couple passes on the plane and strokes of the mallet to drive them home.

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Using the same bevel that I measured the angles on the keys – I marked the box, cut a series of kerfs and than cleaned out the rest with a chisel.


I had a little help from Ruffles even thought he didn’t like giving up the spotlight.


3 thoughts on “Tea chest – maple/walnut – 2015:2016

    • I didn’t – I transposed the keyed piece against the work to get the widths. Ideally I planed the piece which made up the keys to a consistent thickness.

  1. Pingback: Built-in Entry Bench – Poplar – 2016 | raecreation

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