Tea Boxes

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Project by Blake posted 12-27-2007 02:54 AM 3559 views 11 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a project that I actually started over a year ago and tried to finish for last Christmas but got too busy. I just wanted to make some nice boxes that would also be simple enough so that I could make one for each of the ladies in the family. I finished them (I actually made eight boxes) this Christmas Eve.

I didn’t design them with any purpose but in the end I decided that they were just about the right size for tea bags so I filled each box with several kinds of tea before handing them out.

Cherry with bird’s eye maple and finished with boiled linseed oil.

-- Happy woodworking!

21 comments so far

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 4100 days

#1 posted 12-27-2007 03:03 AM

Very tidy little boxes there Blake. A couple of questions:

- how are the corners held together . . . glue?
- what do you have done for the bottom?
- are the little “inserts” in the corners decorative or do they serve a purpose?
- what kind of hinges did you use?

Im asking so many questions as I just may “borrow” your design and make a couple.

-- BLOG -

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3897 days

#2 posted 12-27-2007 05:02 AM

The “inserts” are called keys. The box would fall apart without them because an unreinforced miter will fall apart even with the best glue. We discussed it in this thread... may want to read it. Also, there are a lot of great books out there on box joinery. Check them out. Look for titles by Doug Stowe.

We also discussed those hinges in this thread. (Barbed slot hinges)

The bottom is just a piece of thin plywood which fits in a groove near the bottom of the box sides. The inside of the bottom is covered with blue velvet.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3919 days

#3 posted 12-27-2007 05:28 AM

Blake those boxes are nice. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that takes a bit long to finish projects!!!

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4089 days

#4 posted 12-27-2007 11:45 AM

Great looking boxes Blake. Like Betsy said, it is reassuring to know that somebody besides me takes that long to finish a project. I’ve got a couple that I have been working on for months, and they are not big projects :-)).

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3897 days

#5 posted 12-27-2007 12:14 PM

Hey Blake, those are sweet boxes. I’ll bet the ladies were pleased.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4183 days

#6 posted 12-27-2007 02:20 PM

awesome boxes.. and what a nice way to store the packages of tea! I, too, might have to copy the idea.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4241 days

#7 posted 12-27-2007 03:44 PM

Great boxes, Blake!

Now I’ve got to go look around the house and shop to see if any of my unreinforced miters have fallen apart yet. <g>

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4028 days

#8 posted 12-27-2007 04:04 PM

Nice gifts Blake. The tea bags were a great idea.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Alin Dobra's profile

Alin Dobra

351 posts in 3911 days

#9 posted 12-27-2007 04:44 PM


The boxes come up very nice. I think they are a perfect gift.

I do have one concern though. From the picture it seems that the mitered pieces of cherry that go around the maple beveled piece are glued to the beveled piece. This might not be a good thing since the expansion of the top in the summer will readily break the mitered frame (the keys will not hold it together since the force is enormous; only metal can keep wood from expanding). This is the reason the panels are floating in the traditional door construction.

You made some comments on another thread about the need for keys on mitered corners. For a small box I do not think it is a big concern. It turns out that the partial side to partial side grain glueing is surprisingly strong. On wide miters, the expansion of the wood puts so much pressure on the joint that the glue line fails. The keys are strong enough to still keep it together. This is the primary reason why you do not see mitered corners on kitchen cabinets (at least not very often). The keys are very decorative though and add visual interest.

I hope you do not mind the comment on the top but I think it is a big concern.

-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida

View TomFran's profile


2957 posts in 4017 days

#10 posted 12-27-2007 05:56 PM

Nice boxes, Blake! I’m sure they were well received too.

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View TreeBones's profile


1827 posts in 4046 days

#11 posted 12-27-2007 06:16 PM

Very nice. Great wood and special gifts. Well done.

-- Ron, Twain Harte, Ca. Portable on site Sawmill Service

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4241 days

#12 posted 12-27-2007 06:56 PM

Alin: I agree with you about the keys not being a necessity in a small box like this. But I don’t think the construction of the top will be a problem. I would never build a large table this way for the reason you stated, but I’ve made quite a few boxes where the center of the lid was “captured” this way, and I’ve never had a problem. It may also depend on where you live and how drastic the seasonal humidity changes are.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4059 days

#13 posted 12-27-2007 08:01 PM

I’m not sure how big tea bags are where Alin lives, but on a small box like that, wood movement shouldn’t be a big issue. Also, the keys are a nice effect, necessary or not. Those are nice little boxes, Blake.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Bill Hall's profile

Bill Hall

166 posts in 3889 days

#14 posted 12-27-2007 09:09 PM

I’ve heard that you can make a mitered corner a wee bit stronger by adding a layer of glue to the joint, letting it dry for a short time and then adding glue on top of that for the final glue-up. That way, the glue soaks into the end-grain on the first pass and the second pass bonds glue to glue and end grain. Did that make sense?


View jpw1995's profile


376 posts in 4321 days

#15 posted 12-27-2007 09:21 PM

I like the way you relieved the edges of the lid and the box where they meet. Nice design touch.

-- JP, Louisville, KY

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