Monday, November 27, 2017

Holiday gifts

Every year, my wife and I try to give gifts of an Oregon product in handmade boxes.  This year we settled on a selection of teas and, wanting to get a jump on it, I made half a dozen white oak boxes last summer.

Thing of it was, though they are nice enough, I ended up not liking them for this purpose.  The main thing is that it is inconvenient to get the teabags out, but I also think they look too heavy.  I put them away and have been trying to think of another design for months.

Time is getting short, so last week I got serious.  I decided to go for a minimalist, high function design and not worry about style at all.  I also wanted it to be a design that wouldn't take a lot of time to make with hand tools and be unique.  This isn't my life's work.  As I thought about it, I realized that, because premium teabags come individually sealed, there is no need for them to be in an enclosed container.  This is what I came up with.

This isn't a design that will appeal to everyone.  It's like my active stool, designed primarily for function and not style.  Nevertheless, I like it.  It is so handy to see the tea selection and get the one you want easily.  It's light but seems to be sturdy enough.  In fact, my wife liked it enough that she asked me to make her one too, so that sealed the deal.

Construction is very straightforward.  With the stock prepared, the first thing I did was tape the three vertical pieces together so I could be sure the holes were precisely aligned. 

This also made it easy to round over the corners of the three vertical pieces in a single operation.  It's kind of hard to believe that I used six planes to make these simple pieces:

First I plowed a groove at the bottom of the outside pieces to receive the base.

Then I made a shallow rabbet so the base would fit into the groove.

This little jig I made works great for this.  Finally, just before assembly I shot all the edges and planed the faces.

I used rattlecan poly for finish.

  All in all, making 8 took about 12 hours.


  1. I like the holders. They serve their purpose well. Have you got a post on the hotdog for the #5?

  2. Andy,

    Good show. I'm behind the curve, only one gift finished, four more to go if I can get MsBubba to sign off on 'em. So far no joy.


  3. Very nice. It's a good way to put something small, simple and handmade in people's homes, when everything is getting larger, more complex and more automated. Here is a picture of our interpretation of a tea box:

    Our idea was to use some pretty wood in a simple design. We made it for my daughter, and she likes it. She and her husband and two children are just getting started as a family and having a few nice handmade items takes the edge off the castoffs and big-box furniture that is all they can afford at this stage.