Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Contemporary Jewelry Making Cabinet -- Down The Chimney It Goes!

Now that the drawer boxes are complete, I was at that last, sweet stage of a project where the end is in sight.  It is here that I get the most satisfaction, and conversely, it is the time that I have to guard against taking some lazy shortcut to get to the finish line.  I combat this tendency by creating some fiddly task that forces me to keep my concentration.  In this case it is the drawer pulls.

A quick trip to the back room of Groff & Groff Hardwoods netted me a tasty piece of birdseye maple.  Because I was looking to create small components (drawer pulls) I needed a piece with some great figure, not consistent figure.  That made the six foot by six inch board I found quite reasonable.  I started by cutting a one inch strip and then planing an angle on two opposing sides to create a long isosceles trapezoid shaped blank.

I measured six equal lengths for the pulls (in this case 3 1/2") and marked the centers of each pull.  Then, before cutting, I drilled holes for a 1/4" dowel that will affix each pull to the door.  Only when I've inserted 2" lengths of dowel into the holes do I cut the pulls.  It is just easier to work with the larger piece.

By using my miter hook to cut 45 degree angles one the end of each pull, perfecting the angle on the shooting board, and finally planing tiny chamfers on each edge, I arrive at the final shape.

I marked the centers of the front of the drawers and drilled for the pulls.  In hindsight I'm hoping that a single 1/4" connection will be robust enough to keep it square.  Time will tell.  One quick tip.  As you test fit these pulls to check that everything is going to plan, make sure that you push on the dowel itself to remove it from the drawer front.

A friend of mine once snapped off one of the dowels by yanking on it really hard and I wouldn't want that to happen to you!

I toyed with a number of options for the top.  When I started this project I was planning to use this whacking big maple burl, sanded and polished as a work surface.  It is a spectacular piece of wood.  But as this is a functional piece designed for the studio, I went with a more utilitarian option -- maple plywood edged with birdseye maple.  It is flat, large, easy to construct, and I won't cry if an errant hammer blow defaces it.  The construction was a simple miter, biscuit and glue job.

My first choice of finish for cherry is generally Tried and True Original Wood Finish -- but it takes several days to apply and cure.  My second choice is Danish Oil, and in 30 minutes the finish was done and it was ready to go under the tree.  A few more photos:

I want to give a special thanks to Tom Fidgen for allowing me to crib, shamelessly, from his original design.  I do encourage you to buy his book, Made By Hand.  (We vegetarian, guitar-playing, woodworkers have to stick together!)

Next week I'm making a little one-off bookbinding press that I hope can also be used as a veneer press, and then I leave the forgiving world of cherry for a large project in White Oak.  Be seeing you.


  1. Very nice work and the photography isn't bad either.

  2. Thanks Jeff-

    I struggle a bit with the photography. My shop has a northern exposure so I rely a lot on two $15 halogen lights (which can be really yellow.) I did drop a few bucks on a backdrop. But I never have the patience to sit down and learn with my wife's camera.

    Someday I might work a trade with a photograper to have some stuff shot properly.


  3. That's a sweetheart of a chest, Chris. It should inspire lots of jewellery making creativity. *nudge nudge to someone we both know* Especially liked "tasty piece of birdseye maple" - eye candy indeed!

  4. I am in awe at such craftmanship!
    You are an artist, no question about that.


  5. Just stunning work, Chris. I also am in awe at your talent and skill - and patience!


  6. Beautiful job Chris,
    seeing the cabinet complete makes me want to build one like this- I'll have to put it on my list !

    all the best and thanks for sharing.

  7. Your work is very beautiful, and sleek. I have admired Thomas Moser, and the Shaker and Scandinavian furniture. Yours is right up there. I also appreciated the link to the luthier. I have seen classical guitars being made, but not the oud. The examples were breathtaking. Miriam (Almigwin)

  8. Thanks for the kind words. It's great to have the opportunity to spend so much time in the shop and to be able to share my work with so many nice people.

    If you want to be really inspired, I hope that you will take a moment to check out the Craft In America program, available online at Both Sam Maloof and George Nakashima are featured and it is a stunning program.

    I'm also glad the links are helpful. Current craftspeople like Tom Fidgen, Jameel Abraham, and Peter Galbert are keeping the arts & crafts movement alive.


  9. Chris, what an exquisite piece of craftsmanship. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

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  11. Very nice work Chris,
    I particularly like the fact that you took elements from something else & made it your own,the very nature of evolution!
    Looking forward to your next project,been thinking about a press myself,be interesting to see how you tackle it...

  12. very nice , and thank for your article