Author Topic: Federal Tea Box Construction  (Read 3173 times)

Aaron Hall

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Federal Tea Box Construction
« on: February 04, 2009, 11:51:34 PM »
I'm planning to build a tea box like #437 shown in Montgomery's Book: "American Furniture The Federal Period" published by Winterthur. I'm looking for advice on how to approach construction of the box itself. My concern is associated with wood movement. I recongize that the box is small 7"x12"x7" but I'm still concerned about wood movement because the entire exterior surface of this type of tea box is intricately veneered (all five sides). I think that I understand how to approach the veneer, but I'm concerened about the box construction. Clearly a floating pannel in the top will not work, however, if a top pannel is glued in I expect to have some problems with movement of the substrate under the venner. I'm also concerend about using dovetails to join the sides of the box. Should I expect these to telegraph through to the veneer over time? If so, is there anything that I can do to mitigate this? I'm assuming that a period maker would not have used a laminated substrate? Is this correct?
Thanks,
Aaron


 
I'm a hobbiest interested in period furniture, hoping to learn from SAPFM!

ttalma

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Re: Federal Tea Box Construction
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2009, 08:17:16 AM »
I've never built one, or had the oportunity to look inside one. But Rob Millard has.

He has a great web site:
 www.americanfederalperiod.com

And he even wrote an article on making a federal tea caddy:
http://www.americanfederalperiod.com/Tea%201.html
There are 10 types of people in this world, those that understand binary and those that don't.

Aaron Hall

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Re: Federal Tea Box Construction
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2009, 10:11:13 AM »
Thanks,
This is very helpful.
-Aaron
I'm a hobbiest interested in period furniture, hoping to learn from SAPFM!

dkeller_nc

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Re: Federal Tea Box Construction
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2009, 01:33:29 PM »
Aaron - A comment about veneer.  When the originals of these were made, veneer was sawn, not sliced.  That presents a disadvantage, and two advantages.  The disadvantage is the much higher cost - slicing is considerably more efficient, and the labor necessary to saw veneer is considerable.

The two advantages have to do with the characteristics of the final product.  Today's sliced veneer is very, very thin compared to historical examples.  For example, the table I'm sitting at is an original Sheraton table from about the 1810 time frame.  The drawer front is veneered in high-figure mahogany, and it's at least 1/16" thick (even that's kind of thin for late 1700's veneer).  Modern veneer is usually about 1/40" thick, though you can buy thicker material from places like Berkshire Veneers.  The point here is that it's a lot easier for the joinery underneath to telegraph through the veneer with very thin material.

Second, slicing veneer results in a fair amount of surface checking - sliced veneer is considerably more fragile across the grain and more prone to splitting than sawn veneer.  If it's not done correctly, these checks can go clear through the entire sheet.  Generally, that's not a problem if you're veneering over MDF or plywood, but it can be disastrous if you're gluing over a solid wood substrate.  I believe this is why a number of modern experts at veneer usually "cross-grain" veneer a cheaper material under the show veneer.

By the way - the drawer front on my table is solid mahogany, though the dovetails are half-blind, so perhaps they had trouble with through-dovetails telegraphing through veneer even in the early 1800's.
Period Furniture & Carving as a hobby - about 20 years woodworking

JimThompson

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Re: Federal Tea Box Construction
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2009, 08:44:02 PM »
Aaron, Hello.  I have built one the Federal tea boxes.  It was a lot of fun to do and I learned quite a bit about veneering and inlaying.  It's not a quick project, but well worth the time and effort.  I pretty much followed Rob Millard's guidelines from the article he wrote.  The box was constructed of clear white pine with mitered corners and the splines.  It went together well and I followed Rob's instructions for using hot hide glue and then warming the box in the oven to bring it all into square.  I veneered over the pine using hide glue.  So far, I have not had any telegraphing of the splines or joints.  I guess that could still happen.  Good luck.  Jim