Spice boxes have been a Chester County, Penn., favorite for more than 300 years. Long after these little chests had gone out of fashion in other parts of the country, they continued to captivate the residents of this Philadelphia suburb. But their appeal would spread throughout the country once more.
With the growth in popularity of woodworking since World War II, budding craftsmen soon discovered the glories of the spice box. And why not? They’re great projects to show off (or expand) your skills, and they make great conversation pieces when they’re done.
I’ve built a number of spice boxes over the years in many different styles – some fancy and some plain, some big and some small. And every one of them has been tons of fun to make and posed different challenges to overcome. One of the aspects I like best about spice boxes is that they’re the perfect project to get creative with secret compartments. But you can’t reveal them all (in your efforts to show off your skill), or they won’t be “secret” anymore.
One of the biggest drawbacks for me about spice boxes is that the doors usually cover up spectacularly figured wood used on the drawer fronts. I always try to match the figure on my drawer fronts, often cutting them all from a single board. Plus, I like to use densely striped or crotch material. There’s nothing like opening a spice box and seeing a perfectly matched crotch that’s has been cut into tiny drawer fronts. The problem is that those doors make it hard to highlight all that figure (and hard work), but it doesn’t have to be that way.