Pennsylvania Spice Box for Mom #1: Milling Wood and Cutting Parts

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Blog entry by SPHinTampa posted 02-16-2012 08:21 PM 10518 reads 3 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Pennsylvania Spice Box for Mom series Part 2: Dovetails - Purists please look away »

Like most of you out there, I think my mother is the most amazing woman on the planet, and I wanted to find a way to express that to her. My mom’s birthday is on January 2nd, I feel very bad that she always seems to get short changed on the birthday celebration because everyone is tired from Xmas and New Years. I wanted to give her a very personal present this year to show how important she is too me.

I was considering a jewelery box and when I saw this project in FWW, I decided that it would make the perfect gift.

The original plan was to use Walnut, however, I need help to solve my wood hoarding problem. I have had some great Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba) sitting on the rack for 5 years, so I am going to use it.

Started by laying out rough cuts.

Cross cut rough length to starting milling. Shorter pieces are easier to get straight without removing a lot of material.

I face jointed one side and then edge jointed one side (clean enough to get thru table saw later)

I then rip to width, ripping first along the jointed edge and then flipping around and re ripping a small amount (1/16”) to clean up the side i put thru the jointer. You could argue that this is an extra step but I find the ripping motion on the tablesaw can be done much smooth than running the board hand over hand, while standing on edge, on the jointer. So i use the jointer to get close enough and then the table saw to get the final edge.

I then layout each of the boards, being careful to get a nice grain match on the sides and then use chalk to mark so I assemble properly.

I then glue up the panels, taking care to make sure that face jointed sides remain as coplanar as possible. Sometimes I have to use the rubber mallet to persuade them into place after clamping. Always check after clamping to make sure glue creep (tendency of wood faces to slide across glue layer) doesn’t cause misalignment.

After the glue up, I use a hand plane to get the assembled panel flat again on one side and then rip to fit in my planer.

I then run the panel thru the planer, planing with the points, unjointed face up. After a few passes to get a clean face, I flip over and clean up the hand planed side.

Then cross cut panels to final length on the Radial Arm Saw. Now my panels are ready for construction.

Time to address the curly maple drawer fronts. First I resaw 5/4 maple into 1/4” and 1/2” slices. I was having a horrible time resawing until I swapped out a dull blade for a new sharp Olsen resaw blade. I can not over emphasize how much of a difference this made. I was getting terrible results (blade wander, burning wood, excess pressure) that just went away with a new sharp blade.

Then I use a sled to plane to thin pieces. I love the figure on the curly maple.

I then also cut the drawer parts out of resawn poplar, leaving the slides long and back of the drawer wide so I can fit to final size one the case construction is complete.

After a long day of work, I have my parts read to go.

Next steps, dividers and dovetails.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

4 comments so far

View DBoltz's profile


122 posts in 2378 days

#1 posted 02-16-2012 09:05 PM

Looks great so far. I will certainly be following this blog! I look forward to seeing the final product. A member of my local wood workers guild just completed a spice cabinet with line and berry inlays.

-- Dan, Virginia Beach

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2803 days

#2 posted 02-16-2012 11:55 PM

oh yes… nice pics.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View bbrown's profile


230 posts in 3551 days

#3 posted 02-17-2012 03:52 PM

Looking forward to this!

I’m also working on a Chester County spice box.

Are you planning any inlay – line and berry, or herringbone?

Dan, I’d love to see and hear about your friend’s spice box. I’m also in VA.


Forest, VA

-- Bill Micah 6:8

View SPHinTampa's profile


567 posts in 3684 days

#4 posted 02-20-2012 12:41 AM


Thanks for the interest. I am thinking that the inlay may beyond my skill level. I am going to practice on some test boards to see if I can do it but I am not confident.


-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

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