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Pennsylvania Spice Box

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Blog entry by sandhill posted 08-10-2014 12:29 AM 863 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was doing a little research on spice boxes and came across a lot of information the boxes were used for storing valuable jewelry, pieces of lace as well as yes, spices. In 1875 some spices could cost as much as 4 days wages (a way of establishing value in those days) as you may have realized they were a luxury item made of high-quality wood and decorated with fine inlay. Considerable skill went into there design and construction. The intricate interiors and drawers employed false bottoms or false backs that conceal secret compartments as well as a spring latches, sometimes called a ”Quaker lock” that would allow the back to slide down to expose a dead space to hide documents or letters that the owner did not want anyone to see. Even moldings would contain secret drawers.
Well I found a set of plans online and bought them but they turned out to be less than useful so I took the concept and decided to redraw the plans and if that turned out ok I would attempt to build the project.
Here is how far I have gotten in two weeks.

”Quaker lock” Thin splints of wood nailed or fitted and glued with animal protein glue into the bottoms of drawers that caught on the drawer divider and prevented the drawers from being pulled open. To release the drawers or spring latch, the wood splints had to be pushed up or in from below through openings left in the drawer dividers.

I also have a question? I am using animal protein glue to assemble the entire project but I want to dye the tiger maple first (a number of times to get the right tones).Will I be able to glue it together successfully without having the glue compromise the dye and vise a versa?

Tiger Maple I am using

Laying out the case

Basic case construction with dove tails.

Cutting the 3/16” X 1/16” dados by hand.

Case with false bottom and top

My Sketchup design.

Fitting the draw dividers.


Full case and dividers all dry fit and read to sand and dye.

Divider dry fit.

-- Bob Egbert AKA Sandhill http://www.sandhillwoodworks.com/



15 comments so far

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

606 posts in 2488 days


#1 posted 08-10-2014 01:01 AM

Hey looks like this is going to be a great project Bob… a spice box is on my project list for some point in the future. Looks like everything is going smoothly so far! What kind of decoration are you going to do on the door? String inlay? Marquetry?

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View sandhill's profile

sandhill

2122 posts in 2582 days


#2 posted 08-10-2014 01:22 AM

Thanks Mat, Of course I want to do String inlay, Line and berry and Marquetry but that would over load it and probably not look to good. The case and door are as you can see tiger maple and its instrument grade so it would be a shame to cover it up.One big problem is the tiger maple is very, very difficult to work with and if I make one mistake I will have to veneer it because there just was not enough to have extra for the fudge factor. So no idea how it will turn out but so far all the work I have done is dead on so I am pleased with it so far.

-- Bob Egbert AKA Sandhill http://www.sandhillwoodworks.com/

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

4983 posts in 1456 days


#3 posted 08-10-2014 04:11 AM

Looking good Bob.
Keep us posted.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View sandhill's profile

sandhill

2122 posts in 2582 days


#4 posted 08-10-2014 01:46 PM

Thanks Paul.

-- Bob Egbert AKA Sandhill http://www.sandhillwoodworks.com/

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

15814 posts in 1524 days


#5 posted 08-10-2014 03:20 PM

This is coming along beautifully.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- 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 stefang's profile

stefang

13057 posts in 1992 days


#6 posted 08-10-2014 03:28 PM

I saw one of these some years ago in fine woodworking, an original antique. I think it sold for $2.5m to a museum. I’m sure this will be real nice since you are building it and it already looks exceptional.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View sandhill's profile

sandhill

2122 posts in 2582 days


#7 posted 08-10-2014 03:44 PM

Thanks Guys, Does anyone know about dye and bleed through if hide glue is used?

I have been doing a great deal of research on these boxes and its amazing to read had hear all the history behind them.

-- Bob Egbert AKA Sandhill http://www.sandhillwoodworks.com/

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

4983 posts in 1456 days


#8 posted 08-11-2014 02:04 AM

I’ve done lots of hide glue / dye work with no significant problems but don’t exactly understand what you are asking.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View sandhill's profile

sandhill

2122 posts in 2582 days


#9 posted 08-11-2014 02:24 AM

Thanks for jumping in Paul, I am working with tiger maple as you can see. I am using Transtint in multiple applications sanding back each time before applying the next coat of dye until I reach the desired effect. Being a water based dye I was wondering if it would cause the the glue to pull the dye out of the wood or cause the glue to not hold as well as it needed. The draw dividers are 3/16” wide and some are only 1/16” deep so I will be using a very small curve tip syringe to apply the glue in the dados and sliding the dividers in from the back and wiping the excess away hopelully without wiping away any of the dye. After the glue is dry I will be giving the whole thing a coat of tung oil to bring out the chatoyance or cat eye effect of the tiger maple. Does that make sense?

-- Bob Egbert AKA Sandhill http://www.sandhillwoodworks.com/

View rustynails's profile

rustynails

463 posts in 1187 days


#10 posted 08-11-2014 02:46 AM

Bob looking good so far. I look forward in seeing the Line and berry string inlay with your new tools.

Richard

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

4983 posts in 1456 days


#11 posted 08-11-2014 05:07 AM

I think you will be OK Bob. Just be careful with the glue as you don’t want to be scrubbing it off with hot water and a scouring pad. I’ve had good luck per finishing dyed parts but I don’t think that’s on with tung oil.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View handsawgeek's profile

handsawgeek

152 posts in 53 days


#12 posted 08-11-2014 02:02 PM

Nice project. I recently ran across an article in a 1995 issue of American Woodworker that had plans for a PSB. Just might have to give it a go…

-- Ed

View sandhill's profile

sandhill

2122 posts in 2582 days


#13 posted 08-11-2014 05:12 PM

Thanks guys.
Paul I will be applying the oil after assembly then shooting it with lacquer.

-- Bob Egbert AKA Sandhill http://www.sandhillwoodworks.com/

View Patricelejeune's profile

Patricelejeune

254 posts in 578 days


#14 posted 08-11-2014 06:23 PM

Good job, that looks good.

-- Patrice lejeune

View sandhill's profile

sandhill

2122 posts in 2582 days


#15 posted 08-11-2014 08:03 PM

Coming from you Patrice thats more then a compliment, Thank you. What is you opinion on the glue up and finishing process discussed above?

-- Bob Egbert AKA Sandhill http://www.sandhillwoodworks.com/

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