Small Kitchen Cabinet

30 Dec

I have resolved to make furniture that is distinctive.  That is, not like what you can get in the furniture store.  This is the first piece I’ve made in a while that fulfills that requirement.

It was built for a corner of our kitchen counter, here it is in plan view:

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Opposing Drawers

The counter adjoins the family room as well as the kitchen.  I decided it’d be fun to create drawers that appear to contradict the Pauli Exclusion Principal.

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The front drawers are only a quarter size and the side drawers are three quarters, like so:

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The quarter size drawers face onto our kitchen countertop, where a lot of real life happens, so it’s just as well that they only come out 8 inches or so, because that’s about as far as you want to push junk out of the way anyway.

These run on simple dovetailed maple drawer runners.  I’ve lost all interest in metal drawer slides.  I haven’t found anything that works as well as hardwood on hardwood.

It’s not that these runners are just as good as expensive bearing slides – it’s that they’re better.  Far better, and they look better  too.

Secret Compartment

I didn’t know I was making a secret compartment until my wife looked at it.  I was puzzling about how to make a pull for it, then she came and fiddled with it and bubbled about it being a secret compartment.  So it is!  It’s a spot for pens and pencils.  Secret pencils.  Invisible ink.  Spy stuff even.  Sure.

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It’s a carved block of the red elm, hacked out bandsaw-box style and swiveling on dowels.

 

Drawer Pulls

I like making drawer pulls so much I made a whole post about them.  I made them out of walnut, where I tried to catch a little bit of sapwood in each pull.  I didn’t manage to carry that off.  The walnut that I made this out of was from a tree in a residential neighborhood that was cut down because it was dying.  The sapwood in the pieces I was working with was eaten up by worms, so there wasn’t much.  You can see in the top small drawer pull a worm trail in the sapwood.

 

Top

This is a small piece, so I didn’t want it burdened by some whacking thick board on top of it.  The piece is wide enough that I couldn’t just use a solid piece either, and I certainly didn’t want plywood.

What I did was a bit off-beat.  I built up a frame, cut a rabbet, and then cut out some wacky curvy bits and glued them in the center, but they’re not glued to each other, and they’ve got a little expansion room between them.

I had originally planned to screw into the top from the bottom, but that would have been more than a little tricky to get screws into all those places.  Plus the screws would have very little bite to them.  I decided as long as I was at it, I might as well go full on crazy, so I just routed out more daffy shapes to hide the screws under.  Now I can have easy access to drive the screws and can use some screws with real holding power.  With thin wood, you have to worry about things bowing over time more than with thicker wood.  Or maybe it’s just more apparent.  Whatever, I’ve got screws that say that won’t happen here.

So this is what it ended up like.  Again, I tried to get some sap wood in the mix.  I ended up using one piece that was really eaten up by the worms, but what the heck…

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The Back

I’ve never worked with Red Elm before.  I heard some good words about it, but that’s all I had to go on.  Most of my stack of elm is quarter-sawn – probably not on purpose, but that’s how it arrived.  I only had a little plain-sawn stock, and it sort of selected itself for the back.  I’m now a bit bummed that I didn’t have enough for the rest of the piece, as I think it’s just stunning.  The back is just resawn red elm, again, cut down to about 3/8” thickness.  Beautiful grain, for sure.

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In All

This was a fun project to build.  It did all the things I wanted it to do – it’s got curves all over the place, dovetails, well fit drawers, just the right amount of weight to the pieces, and it was cheap to build.

There are some regrets too – I could stand to re-do the secret compartment – there’s a glue line that just won’t disappear.  And wow do I wish the grain that’s on the back was on the drawer fronts.

But so it goes.  The family really likes it and guests do boggle at its funky drawer design.  On to next year’s project, whatever it is.

Resources

Here’s a link to the sketchup – it’s not a terribly accurate rendition of what finally got built, but it’s a start.

Here’s the full bank of pictures.

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