Friday, July 3, 2009

New Life For An Old Medicine Cabinet

Just a quick post on a quick little project...

My parents picked up this funky old medicine cabinet somewhere in New England, probably in Vermont. When I was growing up, it hung in the bathroom doing standard duty. Years later it made it's way into my home. Thing is, we didn't need a medicine cabinet, so it got pressed into duty as an entryway catch-all. It worked great, but was rather an unorganized mess. I decided to impose some order by adding a key rack.

Here's the cabinet sitting on the workbench:

And open:

The first step was determining the inside dimension at the point I would be attaching the rack. This is where the zigzag rule with sliding extension comes in handy.

The oak for this rack was salvage from a repair job on one of my brother's dog sleds. After cutting the piece to length, I did the layout for the pegs. Here I am using a combination square as a gauge for consistent distance from the edge. If my hand looks like it is in a slightly unnatural position, it is - it kept blocking the shot. And hey, what kind of pencil is that?

I finally got to use my Millers Falls drill press on a project (Okay, this would be a good time to admit that more than a little of the motivation for this particular project was tied to using that tool). As I wanted the holes drilled at an angle, I attached a shim on the edge of drill platform to angle the wood.

Here's the result:

And with pegs in place:

To install the rack I nailed it through the sides with square-cut brads. I did not attach it to the cabinet back in any way, as that would be cross grain joining, and the thin, single board back is already split in several places.

Here it the end result:

Back in its place, open to show the now much more organized interior:

And closed, to hide the essential, but non-pleasing, detritus of everyday life behind a rather pleasant exterior:

I really enjoy looking at this cabinet on the wall. It's a little hard to explain, but I'll try. That my parents bought it and I grew up with it is one major reason - it's a heirloom of a sort. Its funky character in both design and construction is another. But the fact that it seems happy in it's place, above the Shaker style peg board I made to go with it, is probably the main reason. That's one part of our house that just feels "right" to me.

Now if only the rest of the house could be like that...


  1. That is a very nice drill press, and a nice cabinet too!

  2. Yes, nice drill press! And pardon my ignorance but what kind of folding rule is that? Is it standard for folding rules to have a little extension? I've been reading a bit about them lately but hadn't seen what the big deal was. But now I think I can see!

  3. Say, I know how you can get some more nice oak pieces like that...

  4. thewoodshopbug - Thanks - I'm not sure which model it is - I did find it online once, but I can't remember now. I must be getting old!

    Eric - It's the standard Lufkin x46 Red-End. Not all folding rules have the extensions, but they sure do come in handy. Besides measuring inside dimensions, it makes a handy depth gauge. I use it all the time to check grooves, rabbets, plane fences and stops etc. I highly recommend it. In fact, I have an extra that I'd be glad to send your way as a physical donation to your "tool fund". Just email me your mailing address if you are interested.

    Josh - I'd love some more pieces like that ... this a trap? Do I smell a project?

  5. Sometimes little projects can be so gratifying, especially when it's a practical/functional one. The cabinet does look happy with the peg rack. :o)

    I, too, like that drill press. Have never seen one like it.

  6. Dan,

    Very nice project... Enjoyed reading bout it, catching up on some WAY overdo Blogging lol.


  7. Kari - Thanks, and I agree; the amount of satisfaction one feels when completing a project is not directly tied to the size of the project. Sometimes I forget that...

    Handi - Glad you enjoyed it - thanks! I understand completely - I am also way behind on my blog reading. I hope to catch up soon...


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