Spice Box

  • Advertise with us
Project by shouldwood posted 01-07-2007 05:35 AM 2597 views 5 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The history and function of this piece is what intrigued me to build this 200-year old spice box reproduction. During that period, spices were difficult to acquire and very costly. Therefore, royalty would have these spice boxes created to keep their spices under lock and key.

When the dovetailed key/mechanism (concealed under lower drawer) is triggered, the back of cabinet drops down revealing a “secret” drawer compartment used to hide their most prized possessions and spices. Lower right photo displays bottom drawer removed, back dropped down and secret drawer exposed. Also, notice drawer construction with tapered bottom secured with nails to remain consistant with that period.

The primary wood used was cherry with white holly inlay on the door and poplar as the secondary wood used for drawer sides, etc. In an effort to learn how to make dovetailed drawers I “hand-cut” similarly to the way they were originally done during that period.

The upper and lower portions of the door have stopped dadoes along their length to house the “tongues” of the large center section, allowing it to “move” with the changes in humidity. Incidentally, I have seen this door expand and contract just over 1/8th inch as a result of these changes.

This was a very challenging project to build. By choosing more and more difficult projects, it forces me to stretch beyond the things already accomplished. Then, by overcoming these challenges I feel great satisfaction knowing I achieved it.

7 comments so far

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4325 days

#1 posted 01-07-2007 07:18 AM

Challenge met. Very nice. I like how you added the secret compartment, keeping with the history of the time/piece. Care to show or explain how you engineered that aspect?

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4172 days

#2 posted 01-07-2007 07:42 AM

Same here; I’d like to know more about how you developed the secret compartment. That’s something I’ve always been interested in and would love to hear some experiences from other woodworkers on how they were able to build them.

-- Ethan,

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4309 days

#3 posted 01-07-2007 02:06 PM

That’s a beautiful piece! Excellent work.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4235 days

#4 posted 01-07-2007 03:56 PM

And we all like the “hidden Compartment” idea. It stems from two things … our desire to be the “Super Hero” (not unlike Underdog’s Secret Ring) and the desire to hide the latest thing that we bought when we can’t really afford to buy it (like the $137.00 router bit set we bought from CMT) until we can use it enough to look used and then we can bring it into the open and tell the little Mrs. that we’ve had it for a looong time.

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4075 days

#5 posted 10-07-2008 03:01 AM

should wood…this was not your first project post…but in the PULSE PAge…its one of THE oldest projects…I am bored…so thought i would go backwards and see the old stuff—-the oldies but goodies…very cool stuff…

check out LJ’s…10,000 projects now…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View shouldwood's profile


42 posts in 4156 days

#6 posted 02-04-2011 04:17 PM

Man, I am so sorry for not responding to your comments and/or questions. Am embarrassed and ashamed of myself. Have faced some very difficult, life-altering changes in past couple of years. Several aspects have been affected. I do apologize. Especially to you Scott B and Ethan.

If you haven’t already discovered how to replicate a “secret compartment” like the one displayed in this spice box, let me risk explaining it. The original project is from a picture I saw in Rodale’s “American Woodworker” February 1994 #36 issue. I would be happy to copy and fax/email the complete article to anyone interested.

In a nutshell, the trim just under top masks the area in which the drawer is hidden. You wouldn’t think enough space to accommodate it. The back of cabinet has groove routed/dadoed as a track for the trap door to slide vertically. The trigger is nothing more than a “key” routed into cabinet bottom, hidden under lower drawer and accessed by removing lower drawer. Key is 1/4” flat stock with bevel on three edges to slide in small track created by dovetail bit. Will try to take photo and upload this today.

Being a “member” of Lumberjocks is to be a part of something that I have not lived up to. Will attempt to be a more involved, active member of people interacting for a common purpose. Hope you all forgive and accept my shortcomings. Thank you.

View shouldwood's profile


42 posts in 4156 days

#7 posted 02-04-2011 04:30 PM

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics