Pennsylvania Spice Box

//Pennsylvania Spice Box
Pennsylvania Spice Box 2015-06-11T17:00:36+00:00
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    Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    For my first all hand tool project, other than simple boxes and such, I’ve selected the Pennsylvania Spice Box, found in FWW 196 p 58.  It’s a box originally made by Steve Latta, based on a box design that Latta says is common for 18th Century PA.  I thought it would be a good first project simply because it’s nothing more than boxes within boxes, combined with some basic inlay and veneer.  The skills required to complete it are those I have a reasonable command of already.  The inlay is pushing it, but I think I’ll manage.  I’ll post construction photos as I go.  I’ve only got the carcase panels glued up and planed flat so far.  This weekend I’ll start on the carcase joinery and interior partitions.  I expect this project to require about 40 hours total – and I have 4 into it already.  Construction will be in American walnut and poplar, with holly, bloodwood  (or dyed red holly), and walnut burl veneer, with an oil and wax finish.

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  • Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    I’m not certain if this is the best way to go about doing these posts – perhaps it would be better to do a project post as a fair accompli – all pics/text in one post.  Regardless, for this first one, I’ll do it as I build it.

    As promised, the first of many pics – assembled carcase side and interior compartment, flattened and basically smoothed.  The interior partition is a glue-up of walnut and poplar to save the primary wood.

    Two planes used: Veritas low angle jack plane and Wood River #4 1/2 smoother.

    *Note – I use either HHG or OBG on pretty much everything now unless the joint need be watertight.  I have noticed that the ends of my panel glue-ups will come apart.  I am not sure if this is due to having a poor clamp up, the joint was glue-starved at that location, or what.  I don’t get this all the time, but on 2 of the 7 panels I’ve glued up with it on this project, and many on other projects, I’ll wind up with about 1-1 1/2″ of open joint at the end of a panel.  Any ideas what may be causing this?

    • Bill
      Participant
      Post count: 72

      This is the url for the photo I tried to add above:

      2015-06-12 10.13.24

      It wouldn’t work no matter what I tried, and there is no “add media” button available in the post editor as is shown on the “how to use the forum” video.

      Joshua, please extend the edit time to 20 minutes or something – I was only able to edit the post that would not work twice inside of 5 minutes to try to fix the photo issue then it locked me out.  That’s aggravating.  So I’ll hit submit, and keep my fingers crossed.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • Joshua Farnsworth
        Keymaster
        Post count: 56

        Alright Bill, I extended edit time to 30 minutes. I’m working on the ability to upload images securely. Due to security vulnerabilities, it’s hard to find a safe way to allow uploads to my media library.

  • Joe
    Participant
    Post count: 9

    Bill, I for one am stoked that you are building a Pennsylvania Spice Box.  That has been a project that I have  wanted to build since I read that issue of PWW magazine a few years ago.

    Are you going to include the hidden nooks & crannies like in the magazine’s version of the piece?

    Ranked #1 Dad by J.D. Power & Associates

  • Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    Secret compartments?  Absolutely!  Who could resist?

    I’m doing the letter compartment at the top, the narrow deep one behind the central drawer (that is accessed when you remove the back panel), and I’m adding in two on the bottom level.  If you remove the two bottom drawers, you can then pull out the internal divider which has two small secret areas attached to the back of it.  There will be one more under a false floor in the central drawer, too.

    I wish I could claim the creative brilliance that inspired these little secret areas, but I’m just not that inventive.  Check out this video – it’s an episode of The Woodwright’s Shop where Steve Latta takes Roy through the spice box, how to do some lettering inlay, and of course, the secret compartments!

    http://video.pbs.org/video/2172739973/

    I’ll post my progress if you’re interested in seeing it…will be working on it pretty much every weekend until it’s done.

  • Joe
    Participant
    Post count: 9

    Bill, I am giddy with excitement.  I cannot wait to see your progress.

    Good luck and have fun.  Show any mistakes that you make as well, as I always find them very useful to learn from .

    Ranked #1 Dad by J.D. Power & Associates

  • Joe
    Participant
    Post count: 9

    Bill,

    I found a series of videos (about two dozen or so) from a guy that built a Pennsylvania Spice Box.  I figured that you can watch them as you work on your box.   Enjoy.

     

    Ranked #1 Dad by J.D. Power & Associates

  • Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    Thanks Joe!  I’ll be sure to check the videos out.  I’m busy rigging my shop with makeshift camera supports and extra lighting in preparation of documenting this build…it’s a pain.  Hat tip to the people who can make good looking videos in their home shops – it’s not as easy as it looks.

    Tomorrow I finish the carcase preparation, cut the joinery for the carcase, and start building the interior partitions.  That’s a lot – hopefully it will all get done.  If my count is right, that’s 4 dovetail joints at the corners of the carcase, and 6 halves of stopped housing dado’s for the partitions, plus the rebate for the case back and the cutouts for the door.

    It’s about 102 deg. out now (I live near Las Vegas), and even with the swamp cooler, my shop is around 80 – 85 degrees in the morning…so I don’t know that I’ll be able to do a whole day.  I’ll give it my best.

    If I can’t make it in the heat, I’ll roll the work into Sunday’s jobs – which I am really looking forward to doing.  I’m going to do the drawer fronts – work them to size and hammer veneer the walnut burl veneer to the faces.  I’m torn though – between building the drawers up to dry fitting the half-blind dovetails before veneering the faces or not – just in case I screw up a half-blind.  I’ll probably play it safe and do the drawers first.

    Regardless, by Sunday night I hope to have some build photos and videos up here.

    And thanks for the encouragement, too – it’s a big project and I haven’t been completely confident about my ability to get it done.  Now I have to!

     

     

  • Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    I was asked to post mistakes…and I make plenty of them.

    I started working in the shop today, planning on doing the carcase joinery.  The side panels of the carcase had about 2 1/2″ of open joint at one end.  I grasped the panel and flexed it along the axis of the glue joint and it popped apart!  I tried the other two and the same thing happened.

    At first, I didn’t know what had caused this.  After some thought, light dawned on marble head.  I live in the desert.  This wood has been in this environment for quite some time.  I glued up the panels with OBG (Old Brown Glue).  OBG cures by evaporation of moisture.  When I glued the panels, the dry wood and dry air wicked away and evaporated away the moisture so quickly that the glue could not penetrate into the fibers of the wood before it set.  Thus, I had a glue-starved joint.

    To add insult to injury, I had a crown in the edge of a couple of my panels.  Take a look at the photos.

    This happened because I did not check my jointed edge for flatness along the long axis of the board.  Shame on me…I know better.

    Regardless, now I’m behind schedule because I had to re-joint the edges of the panels and re-glue them.  They’re in the clamps now.

    For the rest of today, I’m going to work on the internal partitions and then get ready to do so practice hammer veneering before I build the drawers for my chest.  I really don’t want to ruin the walnut burl veneer I bought.

    You asked for mistakes – I aim to please!

    • manifolded
      Participant
      Post count: 4

      How thin are the panels? I’m making something that is somewhat similar, and trying to decide how many times I can get away with resawing a board to make a panel for the back.

  • Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    By the plan the panels are 3/4″ thick. I wound up buying 25/32 stock rather than 4/4 so mine are approx 5/8  thick when finished.

    And sorry about the lack of progress on this.  Between work and vacation I’m out of the shop for most of July. I’m hoping to get back to it this week.

  • Joe
    Participant
    Post count: 9

    Bill,  any update on this project?

    Ranked #1 Dad by J.D. Power & Associates

  • Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    Sorry Joe, I’ve been swamped with work and home improvement projects lately.  I’ll post an update next week sometime.  I’m in Pittsboro NC at the Woodwright’s School doing a week of class with Roy Underhill till the 9th, so it will have to wait!

  • Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    OK – I’m back in the shop. Standby for an update. I’m doing the carcase joinery this weekend barring any emergencies. I truly apologize for the delay in getting this done! I’ve just been overtaken by events.

  • Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    I got a chance to work on the spice box for a good amount today. I made some good progress on the carcase construction. The main box is now basically ready to glue up. I’m hoping to get the interior partitions done and installed tomorrow. That will leave the drawers and moulding to complete before the door inlay. Here are a few photos of today’s work.

    Dovetail layout #1

    In the above photo you can see the groove that the back panel will fit in.  My Veritas plow plane made short work of creating it.  I love that little plane.  You’ll also notice some odd spacing for the tail on the right end.  This isn’t a goof – it is designed that way to leave a tab that will interface with the carcase side.  Personally I think it’s an unnecessary complication, but what do I know?

    Transferring the tail layout

    In the above photo, you can really see the tab on the right side that I mentioned above.

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