Kumiko-panel Tea Box
Keep your tea lover’s favored flavors in easy reach without creating counter clutter in this tea box, with its kumiko-panel lid (see page 62) and clean, elegant lines. It’s a great project that teaches the fundamentals of kumiko and some smart boxmaking techniques.
Start with the kumiko
1 The finished size of the kumiko panel dictates the box-part lengths, so make the panel first. Then mill a 5⁄16×4" blank long enough to cut the box ends and sides from it. I used cherry.
2 The top and bottom panels fit into rabbets in the box sides and ends, so cut the rabbets before cutting these parts to length [Exploded View]. Next, crosscut the box parts to length [Photos A, B] and miter them [Photo C].
I always use a fourcorner grain match on boxes. Learn how to create them at woodmagazine.com/ 4corner.
Get a free crosscut sled plan. woodmagazine.com/ crosscutsled
Lay out the sides and ends in order, outside 3 faces up, with the mitered ends aligned and touching. Apply painter’s tape across the three joints. Carefully flip the assembly. Miter joints soak up glue, so apply glue to the miters and let them sit for a few minutes. Then, complete the assembly [Photo D]. Let the box sit for 10–15 minutes, and then remove the squeeze-out.
Veneer and install the panels
While the glue dries, make the box bottom and lid panel. The 1⁄4" plywood bottom has fabric on the top face, and 3⁄32"-thick shopsawn veneer on the bottom, lifting the box slightly from the surface. The 1⁄8" plywood top panel has fabric on both faces.
1 Cut the bottom panel 1⁄4" longer and wider than the distance between the rabbets. Glue the veneer to the bottom [Photo E]. 2 After the glue dries, trim the bottom for a snug fit. Next, glue the fabric to the inside face, trim it flush [Photo F], and glue the bottom into the box, fabric facing up [Photo G]. Let the glue dry for an hour or so. 3 Cut the lid panel to fit into the rabbet, glue fabric to one face, and trim it flush. Repeat on the other face. I do not glue this panel into the box, because it’s really too thin to get a good glue bond. If it fits properly, and the kumiko panel also fits snug, there is no need for glue.
Cut the lid from the box
1 I’ve found that separating the lid from the box at the tablesaw leaves little steps at the corners that require sanding or planing, and the lid never quite sits right on the
Tip! When picking fabric, choose one with a color that complements the wood. Greens and blues work well with the cherry I used.
box after that. So, I cut the lid free at the bandsaw [Exploded View, Photo H]. There are no steps at the corners, and the blade marks clean up quickly with sandpaper [Photo I].
1 I use basswood for the internal liners and dividers that create cubbies for tea packets. Mill the liners to thickness and cut them wide enough to protrude 1⁄8" above the box side [Exploded View].
2 To fit the liners inside the box, first cut them square, with the blade at 90°. Then cut the dadoes that accept the dividers, creating three same-size compartments [Photo J]. I cut these with a standard-kerf rip blade, because it leaves a flat-bottom kerf. 3 Next, miter the liners and slide them into the box [Photo K]. Mill the dividers to fit the dadoes. I get the thickness close with my planer and then refine the fit with a smoothing plane. Crosscut the dividers to length, dialing in the length with a shooting board and plane, or using a microadjust stop and crosscut sled. Press the dividers into place. With snug-fitting liners and dividers, there is no need to glue anything into the box.
4 I finish only the exterior of my boxes by wiping on two coats of a 1-pound cut of shellac, then wet-sanding with 800-grit sandpaper, and adding a third coat. Buff the last coat with ultrafine steel wool, wipe away the residue, then polish with wax. A box this size takes about 15 minutes to finish from raw wood to wax, because the shellac dries so quickly.
After completing the finish, press the 5
kumiko panel into the lid [Photo L], load the box up with your favorite teas, and enjoy a nice cuppa!