Today’s Article – Framed for Figure

spice_box_openerSpice 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.

Most 18th century spice boxes have doors with panels. Some have raised panels, while others are flat with (or without) inlay. The problem with a paneled door is, it covers up all the work inside the box. And if you use figured wood for your drawer fronts, it’s hidden too. In today’s article (available to our subscribers, but you need to be logged in to view the article) I’ll walk you through the process of making a period rarity – a spice box with a frame door.

I’ve copied one of two known period spice boxes with this type of door, but used some nicely figured tiger maple and added ebony accents to make the piece my own. Whether you want to spice up your project, or you want to stick to the original, this project is a dovetail tour de force. Join me as I work through my version of “a spice box with a view.”

— Chuck Bender

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