Pennsylvania Spice Box

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Project by Jeff in Huntersville posted 04-15-2013 01:26 AM 9889 views 19 times favorited 35 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a Pennsylvania style Spice Box built from Steve Latta’s plan. The main body is walnut. The drawers are aromatic cedar and the drawer fronts are Santos Rosewood. The back is cherry. The inlay is holly. The main part of the chest is oiled with light walnut Danish oil then covered with several coats of clear wax and buffed.

It’s all pretty straightforward cabinetry but on a smaller scale than I’m used to so there are some compromises that I’m not going to tell anyone about. The most difficult part was the inlay. Lee Valley has a great set of tools that make the process a little easier. At first I was disappointed with the inlay until I scraped and sanded the surface level. Then it really stands out.

The hanging pulls were difficult to find. They have to be sticking out a maximum of only about 1/2” to allow the door to close and have to be sized proportionally to the drawers. Horton Brasses came to the rescue here.

Apart from the obvious drawers in front, the back slides out to reveal two hidden drawers. One is at top for flat documents. A hidden box holds valuables.

I had originally planned on giving this to my daughter as a Christmas present. According to lore the inside of the door has spaces to inlay the initials of her and her husband. However, since she’s not even engaged I guessed I had some extra time. It took me until a few weeks ago. Maybe in a few years it’ll come back and I’ll be able to add the initials.

35 comments so far

View ShaneA's profile


6603 posts in 2174 days

#1 posted 04-15-2013 01:33 AM

Stunning, real quality build.

View Oldtool's profile


2390 posts in 1767 days

#2 posted 04-15-2013 02:01 AM

Absolutely beautiful. Excellent craftsmanship, superb build. Something to be very proud of, and I’m sure your daughter I’ll always cherish it.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View cajunpen's profile


14569 posts in 3642 days

#3 posted 04-15-2013 02:12 AM

That is something to be proud of. Your skills really came to the front on this one.

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

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

23542 posts in 1914 days

#4 posted 04-15-2013 02:28 AM

Really classy piece

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View bonobo's profile


297 posts in 1632 days

#5 posted 04-15-2013 02:32 AM

Amazing. All that stringing must have been really tricky.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

View hoss12992's profile


3847 posts in 1469 days

#6 posted 04-15-2013 02:54 AM

Great job!

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View PaulLL's profile


160 posts in 1552 days

#7 posted 04-15-2013 03:08 AM


View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


14006 posts in 2194 days

#8 posted 04-15-2013 03:15 AM


-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Don's profile


18 posts in 1446 days

#9 posted 04-15-2013 03:22 AM

Wow! Very nice!

View MonteCristo's profile


2098 posts in 1764 days

#10 posted 04-15-2013 04:40 AM

Nice job ! When you speak of plans, did you get actual drawings or just what was in FWW ?

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 2602 days

#11 posted 04-15-2013 04:57 AM

Exelent work and design.

-- Dreaming patterns

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


115619 posts in 3153 days

#12 posted 04-15-2013 05:44 AM

Beautiful work Jeff.

-- Custom furniture

View Manitario's profile


2442 posts in 2459 days

#13 posted 04-15-2013 12:57 PM

Looks really good Jeff. I like that you managed to included a pic of your Workmate. What is a spice cabinet used for; do you just put loose spices in the drawers or is it just used as a small cabinet?

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Jeff in Huntersville's profile

Jeff in Huntersville

405 posts in 2770 days

#14 posted 04-15-2013 01:20 PM

I want to thank everyone for the kind comments and for helping me to my first top three! I had small pangs of remorse when I gave it to my daughter. It took a long time to make and I liked how it turned out. But I’m glad it’s started its journey along the path to family heirloom. I have a son, too so it looks like there’s another one in my future.

Rob, from what I’ve read a spice chest orginated in colonial days. It was probably presented to a newly married couple as a “fine” piece of furniture. Whether gifted or bought, being small, it was probably the only fine piece affordable. It served double duty as a store for spices, tea, etc. and the hidden areas could be used to fool would be thieves. I’m not so sure about the origination but the use seems sensible. Even today I don’t think a thief would recognize it for what it is and it’s heavy so they wouldn’t walk off with it.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16258 posts in 3794 days

#15 posted 04-15-2013 01:43 PM

This is a real heirloom piece for sure. Great work!

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

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