Tansu Teabox: Basic dimensions and cutting raw parts

  • Posted on: 22 November 2021
  • By: Jay Oyster
Parent Project: 

For the teabox, I laid out a basic step-style tansu cabinet layout, with 10 drawers and two doors, and space at the top right where I can put a couple of steeping tea cups.

So the dimensions I started with to determine what size to make the teabox were the two Adagio tea infuser mugs, similar to this.  Each of these is about 3 1/2" wide and 5" tall, with the infuser and glass top  in place. I decided to use the top step of the box, on the right side, as a place to store these two mugs. So a 5" step down from the top height. 

The overall box height is limited by cabinets in our kitchen. That's 16" of space. 

The width needs to fit in with the rest of our counter items. I decided to go a bit wide, so 20". It'll be a focal piece in our kitchen.

In terms of depth, I wanted the drawers to be functional, not bottomless cubbies I couldn't reach the back of. I thought between 5" and 7" deep. So I split the difference and decided on a 6" deep box.

I want the whole thing to feel delicate and refined, so the sides and drawer dividers needed to be fairly thin. I've made things too thick in the past, as is common with many beginning woodworkers. The outer case will be 3/8" thick, and the inner dividers will be 1/4" thick. 

The trickiest part was the layout of the drawers and cabinet doors. I wanted it to feel a bit patchwork, but it also should have an inner logic that appears when you study it.  And I wanted drawers that could either contain loose leaf tea, or tea bags, or tea pouches. 

Parts labels and layout

Using this diagram, I laid out a cut list for the case: Parts list

As for materials, I've got a single large board of curly maple I plan to use for the entire box. It's about 7/8 thick, so I'm going to be resawing it to make the thinner parts. Some of the 3/8" pieces may end up a little thin. I'll adapt.

Curly maple lumber cut to rough size, ready for resawing into thinner stock for box sides, top, and bottom.Since my bandsaw is currently out of commission (I need to replace the tires and rework the wheel alignment. It's not tracking correctly) I'm going to have to resaw on the table saw. So I cut the board down into rough lengths for the parts and I'll resaw each. 

This is my least favorite part of making small boxes. I need a better way to resaw to create thinner stock. I've done this before and I'm comfortable with it, but it is a bit hairy making these cuts.

Here's a sample of the curl in this board:

Example of the figure in the maple

But . . . before I can proceed, I need to build a new crosscut sled. In the past year, I *May* have had a flood in my basement shop.  (or five, to be accurate)   And I've had lots of lumber damaged and unfortunately, my old crosscut sled unded up sitting in floodwater for about three days. Ah well, it was time to upgrade anyway. I burned the old crosscut sled, and I'm built a new, small one for this project. I've also bought material to make a good, full-sized one for long-term use. (My original crosscut sled was jury rigged for temporary use . . . 15 years ago.)

I'll document the sled in a separate project thread.

Labels for the parts list