Curly Maple Tea Shelf

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Project by BigRedKnothead posted 03-14-2015 04:25 AM 2220 views 10 times favorited 42 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This week I finished a teacup display shelf for my wife. The shelf was heavily inspired by an Arts and Crafts shelf I saw in Fine Woodworking a few years back:


Basically, I took that design and made several changes to suit my wife’s taste’s and needs (specific tea set dimensions). The shelf in Fine Woodworking had straight shelves. This would not accommodate my wife’s tea pots so I came up with these arched shelves. As each shelf gets deeper, the arc is more pronounced. Seen here:


Her shelf is much larger, about 48”x 30”, and it’s made of curly maple. The show faces are actually some “musical (instrument) grade” maple I was able to acquire. The inlays are red mallle burl for the flower, brown mallee for the leaf, and white oak for the stem.

Finish: wiped about five coats of minwax tung oil on all the surfaces, waiting a day between each coat. Then I wet sanded the surfaces with 1000 grit paper and Howard’s Wax and Feed (beeswax). My goal was to show off the great figure of the maple without adding color. Well, it worked. You can see in the pics the maple changes by light and time of day, and it looks fantastic in person.

A more in depth rundown of the build can be found here on my website:

By measure of quality, this is the finest thing these freckled hands have made to date. I’m proud of this piece and thoroughly enjoyed presenting it to my lovely wife.

Take care knuckleheads, Red

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

42 comments so far

View jmartel's profile


6474 posts in 1572 days

#1 posted 03-14-2015 04:46 AM

Looking good, Red. Is it on top of a baby bib in that photo laying on your workbench?

And I like the note/signing on the back. Well done. I’m sure she was thrilled.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View ToddJB's profile


6795 posts in 1553 days

#2 posted 03-14-2015 05:11 AM

Man, you are so freaking good at what you do. Thanks for sharing this project and you’re experiences.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View pintodeluxe's profile


4827 posts in 2236 days

#3 posted 03-14-2015 05:39 AM

Top notch work. The end product speaks for itself, and that is beautifully crafted.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1057 posts in 1953 days

#4 posted 03-14-2015 05:47 AM

Bodacious, Red. Simply bodacious.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17577 posts in 3098 days

#5 posted 03-14-2015 06:45 AM

That turned out awesome Red!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Don W's profile

Don W

17880 posts in 1990 days

#6 posted 03-14-2015 11:39 AM

Beautiful work Red.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View johnstoneb's profile


2105 posts in 1595 days

#7 posted 03-14-2015 11:50 AM

That is beautiful. That finish took an outstanding piece and put it over the top.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View fatandy2003's profile


258 posts in 1666 days

#8 posted 03-14-2015 12:04 PM

Nice work, as always!

-- -- Andy, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of liberty must undergo the fatigues of supporting it” - Thomas Paine

View helluvawreck's profile


22697 posts in 2289 days

#9 posted 03-14-2015 12:11 PM

It’s a very nice design and beautifully done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View theoldfart's profile


7939 posts in 1874 days

#10 posted 03-14-2015 12:16 PM

Well done Red.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Buckethead's profile


3140 posts in 1291 days

#11 posted 03-14-2015 12:41 PM

Looks great! I especially like that you kept the maple as light a color as possible. So hard to do, but you nailed it. Stealing your formula.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View grizzman's profile


7782 posts in 2726 days

#12 posted 03-14-2015 12:47 PM

what a beautiful piece red, i know your wife is very pleased with this, i hope you got to try out the tea set first…what would be your favorite tea….great job, and the wood choice is spot on, i love the flower…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View BigRedKnothead's profile


7880 posts in 1405 days

#13 posted 03-14-2015 01:42 PM

Thanks for all the encouragement guys. Heather has seen some nice stuff come and go in my shops…but this one she get’s to keep;)

Jmart- ya, that’s probably a piece of a baby bath towel. My shop rags are a colorful assortment.

Grizzman- my wife is a tea nut. She gets the fancy loose leaf stuff. I’m more of a coffee guy. I don’t mind English Breakfast though.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View JayT's profile


4681 posts in 1634 days

#14 posted 03-14-2015 01:45 PM

Stunning work, Red. Not that we have come to expect any less from you.

It’s always special to make something the wife will cherish.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View terryR's profile


6230 posts in 1731 days

#15 posted 03-14-2015 01:45 PM

Very nice work, Red!
I especially like the curved shelves.

Lovely tea pots, and I spy extra room for a few more pieces.
Very Smart!

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

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