Posts Tagged With: do it yourself

Sliding “Shoji-Style” Doors, a Work in Progress

Kitchens never seem to have enough space. A pantry with double doors swinging outward require room to open, and must be accounted for when arranging other items. In our case, the kitchen table and chairs must be placed to give sufficient room for the doors to swing open.


A work in progress.

As an improvement, I am building a pair of sliding by-pass doors. Most everything in the pantry is small enough to access with only one door open anyway. So, there is limited down-side to this modification. Eliminating the need for the doors to swing open is a significant up-side.

I wanted a door that was strong, and light-weight, and would not look too out of place in our kitchen. After building the cabinetry from quarter-sawn white oak, the natural choice for the doors would be to continue with the same material. But to keep the weight down and to add a lighter tone, I have gone with a door that has acrylic panels which I have covered with a rice paper style film.

The doors are about 25 1/2″ wide and 78″ tall. The outer frame and center cross piece are 7/8″ quarter-sawn white oak. The interior muntins are 1 1/2″ x 3/4″and are placed 1/8″ back from the styles and rails. The corners are joined with some major mortise and tenon joints, and the muntins are also mortised into the outer frame.


Where the muntins meet is a modified bridle joint. I am sure it is something that has been done before, but I haven’t found a photo of a joint done quite like this. I began by cutting  an “X” on the front of the vertical muntin about 1/4″ deep (with a Japanese Dotsuki Takebiki saw.)


Mock up of modified Bridle Joint

On the back side, I also cut 1/4″ deep and the full 1 1/2″ width of the muntin. I then made mitered cuts on the front and grooved the center to fit the vertical piece. I hope the photo of my initial mock-up offers a better explanation.


The finished modified Bridle Joint.

The doors will hang from a vertical track made by Grant. I set up the arrangement in my shop, hanging the track and attaching the rolling trucks to the doors, and they slide with the slightest touch.

The rice paper window film uses no adhesive — I guess it is just the static charge that holds it in place. In the photo, the acrylic sheets are held in with only tape. I will finish the door first, then permanently install the panels with small quarter-round pieces tacked in on the back side of the doors.

So, its a work in progress. I will finish the doors then modify the opening to remove traces of the existing hinges, etc. With a week off at the holidays, perhaps I can make some quick progress on this project.


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tiger Maple Box


While taking a box making class in Maine at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship this Fall, I saw a box one of the instructors had made. It was a long, narrow box with a curved lid, constructed out of teak, and the shape kept grabbing my attention. The overall size was about 12″ long x 4″ wide x 3.5″ tall. I tried to make something similar from oak during class, but it the open grain of the oak just didn’t have the look I wanted.

I ran across a really pretty flitch of tiger maple a month or so ago, and purchased it with mandolin necks in mind. But after getting the wood home, it started to look like a box instead of a musical instrument neck. Figured woods look so fantastic, but all that figure means the grain of the wood is reversing itself. If not done carefully, there can be a lot of  grain tear-out.

round-top-box-02Most of the work was done by hand. I did re-saw the stock on the bandsaw to get close to the final thickness of about 1/2″. The box jointed corners were done with a router. The rest was done using hand planes and chisels. The box itself was constructed first, and the lid was made to fit. With blades being sharpened often, I was able to tame the wood’s grain.

In order to really emphasize the tiger maple grain, I used two colors of wood dye. The first coat was lemon yellow, which was applied and wiped off quickly. Next, I used a beechwood dye that really brought out the contrast in the grain. A few coats of shellac, and a bit of wax are the finish coat.

This just might be one of the prettiest pieces of wood I have ever run across. There isn’t much of it left, so I will have to come up with a way to make the best use of what I do have remaining.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kitchen Cabinets and Renovation


New Wall Cabinets Above the Fridge.

One of the reasons for the dearth of recent posts here is the amount of time I have spent renovating the kitchen. The project started with a new fridge —  that was slightly too tall to fit under the old wall cabinets. Those cabinets came out, the refrigerator went in, and I built a couple of new cabinets to go above it. The new cabinets looked significantly better than the old ones, and more wall cabinets followed until all the upper cabinetry had been changed out. Rather than staples, chipboard, cardboard, etc., the new cabinets are all quarter-sawn white oak faces with plywood carcasses and shelves. The casework is dadoed into the oak fronts then fastened with glue and screws. Hardware includes European hinges and solid cast brass knobs and handles in an Arts and Crafts style.


Base Cabinets with new Counter and Sink

The bottom cabinets had to be done all at once, since there would need to be a new counter and sink installed at the same time. Additionally, there was a corner cabinet which was very difficult to access — does everybody have one of these? You practically had to open the door and crawl back in there to find anything. More on that below.

Working out of a garage workshop, there is not all that much room to build large items– especially multiple large items like base cabinets. So, the project took more time as pieces got stacked in corners, moved around to make room, re-stacked, etc. And, coming up with a solution which allowed easier access to the corner cabinet took quite a bit of design time and numerous prototypes.










And, after getting the basic base cabinets built and installed, I decided to remove a small closet and replace it with even more cabinets and a bit of added counter space. This has a slide-out trash can that is very convenient, and space to store dog food, etc.

Next, there was the idea for an Arts and Crafts inspired oak and stained glass light fixture. Which would look great mounted to a tin ceiling, which had to be painted multiple coats of multiple colors of paint to get just the right look . . . .


Light Fixture and Tin Ceiling

There is still painting to be done. And a couple of pantry doors to be replaced with Shoji-style sliding screens. And the bay windows to be replaced. And a new floor.


All in good time.



Back to the corner cabinet. I used several heavy duty drawer slides, a couple of casters, Baltic birch plywood, and some Elfa baskets from The Container Store to build a corner cabinet slide out solution. Here is a quick video of how it works.

In addition to picking up some usable space in the corner, I was also able to gain additional storage around some of the areas where the kitchen walls run at 45 degrees. The original design had large wedges of inaccessible space there, which we can now utilize.

Now its time to take a little break from the kitchen and build a few other little things.



Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jewelry Box

It has been a long time between posts here. There have been several woodworking projects undertaken during the past few months, including completing kitchen cabinets and designing and building an oak and stained glass light fixture for the kitchen.

Jewelry Box 01

Oak Jewelry Box

One of the projects I completed back in February was a jewelry box – a late Christmas present for my wife. It is made of quarter sawn oak with brass hardware, including a really nice piece of “quilted” oak that is most visible on the inside of the box lid. The piece is 13″ x 9″ x 6″ high.

There is a tray inside that raises with the lid. I made the hardware for its operation from some brass stock. I had to make several models to get the geometry right, so that the tray stays level as it opens and closes.

Jewelry Box 02

Jewelry Box, with quilted oak inside top.


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

When the Material Dictates the Project Design: A Box from a Walnut Scrap

Box from Walnut Scrap

Box from Walnut Scrap

While rummaging through some small pieces of wood at a lumberyard in Raleigh a few weeks ago, I came across a piece of walnut with a neat grain pattern. The piece was about 7/8″ x 8″ x 7″ — not very big. I had no idea what I might make with it, but I figured something would come out of it. I started out resawing it into two pieces and book-matched them together into one piece about 3/8″ x 8″ x 13″. I thought it would make a nice top for a box, but the size was strange, and I could not come up with a good design for it. I set it to the side for a few weeks, and spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do with it.

Finally, I picked it back up and started trying to come up with something — it was too neat of a piece not to build something out of. So, I cut it back apart where I had book-matched it, and decided to use one half for drawer fronts and the other half for the top of a little box. I cut the top piece and mitered it, continuing the pattern down the front into the drawers. The sides are quartersawn white oak, with a slight taper. Here’s what it looks like with the first coat of finish on it:

Box with Pulls at the Bottom

Box with Pulls at the Bottom

The problem with drawers is that you need something to grab onto to pull them open. And, this gets in the way of a neat piece of wood. I just could not bring myself to drill a hole and mount a pull on each drawer. So, here is what I came up with. I embedded a magnet behind each drawer front, and made some little pulls with a magnet glued into the bottom. At the bottom is a row of mortised parking places for the knobs. So, if you aren’t using the box too often, you can leave the pulls down there. Here is the box with the pulls “parked” at the bottom.

It kinda looks like an old fashioned radio with the dials at the bottom. The finished box is about 8″ wide at the bottom, 7″ wide at the top, 7″ deep and 11″ tall. I am using Tried and True Varnish and Oil finish.

Dovetailed Drawer

Dovetailed Drawer

On a side note, I usually use my router table with the Jointech positioner and a dovetail bit to mechanically do the dovetails when making drawers. This was my first real attempt at hand-cutting the dovetails. I won’t say it was easy, but they didn’t turn out terrible.

Here is a look at one of the little drawer pulls which has a magnet inside it:

Magnetic Pull

Magnetic Pull

After applying the finish, I plan to use flocking inside the drawers. The drawers have grooves cut into the sides which engage with  maple rails. After applying shellac to the outside of the drawers, they slide easily, and a bit of wax will be the final touch.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Steamer Trunk from Reclaimed Chestnut

When I started milling the lumber for this steamer trunk, I got side-tracked by a little table that seemed to jump out of the wood and demand to be built. (Read about the table here.) So, with the table done, I have been working on this trunk. I originally went in search of the chestnut specifically to build a trunk and a quilt rack (which can be seen here.)

Inside of the Trunk Top

Inside of the Trunk Top

The construction of the “curved” top is mostly an illusion — the grooved rails and panels sit on a set of curved ribs, but they are basically flat and join at a slight angle, which makes them appear to be curved. The end pieces are trimmed to a curved shape matching the rails, and the final shaping is done with a hand plane. The rails are attached to the ribs with screws which are countersunk and will get a contrasting plug. The ribs are tenoned into the side rails.

All of the stock for the trunk is resawn from reclaimed 2 x 6 and 2 x 8 lumber. The surfaces closer to the original surface have a bit darker color than the pieces cut from closer to the center. There are also holes, knots, cracks, etc. which have to be addressed. Some get filled or glued, but the idea is to preserve much of the patina the wood already possesses.

Trunk in Progress

Trunk in Progress

I will probably finish the inside with shellac and the outside with Tried and True varnish, which I have found looks really good on chestnut.

The bottom of the chest will be oak plywood, as will the bottom of the tray (which is still to be constructed.) I would guess it would be impossible to find chestnut plywood, since it is not easy to even find a little bit of chestnut lumber. The overall size of the trunk is about 17″ x 30″ x 16″ tall.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Project: Kitchen Cabinets

I had been thinking that kitchen cabinets would be a good project to tackle when I retire in a few years. The cabinets in our kitchen are the original ones, and are terrible, as in (cheap) particle board and staples. The fronts were finished poorly, they used cheap hardware, and there is a significant amount of unused space that could have been  claimed by constructing custom cabinets.

The refrigerator was also original, and nearly 30 years old, so we decided to replace it when the local Sears store was closing. None of the models that would fit in our original opening were very well made. Drawers did not slide easily, lighting was poor, and it was easy to see that these refrigerators were built to be inexpensive. So, we decided to to upgrade a bit to a model that had much better hardware, LED lighting, and well-designed interior spaces. Only problem, it was about 2 inches too tall for the existing space.

First cabinets in place

First cabinets in place

Prior to taking delivery, I removed the cabinets above the refrigerator, and used this as a good excuse to begin building new ones. We immediately gained a significant amount of storage space by making the new cabinets taller, and by taking advantage of some previously wasted space where the walls meet at a 45 degree angle.

The new cabinets are made with quarter sawn oak face frames and doors on birch plywood cases. The face frames are dadoed and rabbeted to accept the cases, and pocket screws are used in blind locations to hold it together. I am using a simple Shaker rail and style bit set for the doors, which operate with Euro-style hinges. The knobs and handles are from Lee Valley’s cast bronze Arts and Crafts style suite.

So far, there are two cabinets hanging above and beside the refrigerator, with some matching shelves above the sink. Two more top cabinets are in the works, and will be done in due time. (Of course, if I were retired now, this work would go much faster!!)

Cabinet in Construction

Cabinet in Construction

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A New Vanity

The new bathroom vanity

The new bathroom vanity

My wife asked about having a pull out tray installed in the master bath vanity. I began by trying to repair the drawer in the existing vanity, but it was too out of square to allow a drawer to function properly. I had seen the “vessel sinks” in the hardware stores, and thought that by having the bowl on top of the vanity, there is room for more drawers below. So, that was my initial design for a new vanity. There is one door with the pull out tray she originally requested, but there are far more drawers now to allow for better organization.

The front is quartersawn white oak from Scott at, and the arts and crafts style hardware comes from Lee Valley.

Tile splash guard

Tile splash guard


I tried my hand at a bit of tile work to trim out the counter top. The tile is affixed to the wall with an adhesive sheet – a new system I had not seen before. It holds very well, and once the grout is added, you have a sturdy tile wall surface.

Vessel Sink and Faucet

Vessel Sink and Faucet


Before and After

Before and After








The vessel sink is very functional and the accompanying faucet delivers a flowing stream of water.













Here are before and after photos of the vanity.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Steamer Trunk Progress

Steamer Trunk

After playing with different finishes and combinations of techniques to get a properly weathered effect, I think I finally got what I was looking for. The construction was not that difficult —  I was unsure about the curved top, but even that came together nicely. This trunk gets a lot of hardware, so there will be a few more pics of the finished product.

Most of the wood in the trunk is domestic North Carolina white oak, which came from Scott at in New Hill, NC. If you are looking for some nice oak, check them out.

Another View

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making the Curved Trunk Lid

Construction Progress


After cutting out most of the pieces, the next step in the process is to fit them together. Much of the joinery in the trunk consists of panels and tenons inserted into grooves. Here you can see some of the progress I have made in dry fitting the pieces together.

The key to constructing the top is the curved ribs which define the shape.  Each rib is mortised into the front and back rail, and the panels fit into grooves.  Since there are so many pieces to the top, the trick is how to assemble them in the gluing process quickly enough so the glue doesn’t begin to dry out too soon.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Create a free website or blog at