Monday, August 29, 2011

Shaker Inspired Medicine Cabinet - Part III

So this little improvised project was coming along nicely, and it was time for one final push to complete it.

When I first started this project, I couldn't really see how it would come out. I had only some misty, vague, ideas swirling around. I was just going to say "swirling around in my mind", but that would put too much emphasis on thinking. It was more of an exercise in trust or faith that this thing would take shape. I could "feel" it would be Shakerish, but I didn't really have any details, not at first, they just sort of appeared on their own as I worked with my hands. I'm not sure if any of this makes sense, but that's the best I can explain it right now.

So anyway, at some point, I started to realize that it would have a top cap - nothing fancy, just an overhanging top. For a while there was also a bottom, or base, but that faded away, never to return.

To make the top, I cut a piece of stock to overhang the case on the front and sides. Then I set the case on it upside down and traced around it with a pencil. This gave me the reference marks to bevel the underside of the overhang.

The beveling was accomplished with a bench plane while the stock was held with the holdfasts. This piece was too small for both holdfasts to reach, and rather than boring another hole, I rigged the setup you can see here. The work piece was held by only one holdfast, but couldn't rotate because it was jammed against a piece of scrap held by the second holdfast; it worked great.

I worked the end bevels first, so any splintering or spelching at the front edge would be planed away by the front bevel.

To glue the top to the case, I clamped them together, upside down, on the bench. This is a perfect example of why I am frequently glad I don't have a front apron on my bench.

To hang the cabinet on the wall, I chose keyhole style hangers. As I planned on using Lee Valley "best-ever picture screws" with these, I needed to bore clearance holes in the case. I also decided to mortise the hangers into the case so that it would fit snug to the wall, without any gap.

Here's a shot of the work in progress:

For the back, I used the 3/8" cedar T&G paneling scraps. It was simple enough to cut off the excess from the outside edges with a knife and plane them down for a tight fit (humidity is about as high as it is going to get right now, so I figured I didn't need to leave room for expansion; I just had to think about contraction).

The back paneling was nailed on with brads. The shelf was sitting in place to check that it didn't interfere with the back. If the shelf had been a permanent, fixed shelf, I would have nailed the paneling to it as well.

And here's the cabinet with all assembly completed, awaiting the milk paint.

I had a little trouble getting the color I wanted, and ended up mixing two reds together to find what I was looking for - red, but not too red. Also, this is the first appearance of the toggle lock for the door. It's notched to fit over the knob. Why? I don't know - it's just the way it wanted to be...

And two shots of the cabinet after hitting it with oil. I love the way this works with the paint.

And finally, two shots of the finished medicine cabinet hanging in its new home.

I have to say, in the end it came out exactly how I felt it would, but not exactly how I thought it would. It fits my definition of "Shakerish" and makes me happy on a daily basis. Cool.

Up next, a short post on the tool kit used for this project.


  1. Wow! That turned out nicely. I sure like how you walk through a project on your blog. I learn something every time.

  2. Marilyn - Thank you! I'm glad you like how I show projects - and I'm glad I've finally been able to get another posted. It was a long, hard, summer with not much in the way of shop time. It felt good to get something out of the shop again. Thanks for commenting.


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