Another Dresser Turned Wine Cabinet

Last year my wife and I bought an old dresser at an antique show in Columbus, Ohio. We had a spot in our dining room we wanted to make into a bar area and the dresser was small enough that it would fit nicely in that spot.cabinet

I had to remove the drawers to make room for the wine bottle storage I was going to build so, I cut off the rail and drawer runners that were between the two drawers.

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The dresser was old and someone in the past tried to repair the case by driving nails through the side of the case into the end grain of the tenon. I took the tenon out and drove the nails back out through the side.

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After the nails were gone, I glued the case back together to make everything sturdy and square.

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The cabinet was going to be painted so, I bought some birch plywood and cut up pieces to make a box that would slide inside the case. I also trimmed the edges of the plywood with oak to match the rest of the case.

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The old dresser had a bit of detail to the rails that I wanted to match on the box I was building.

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I took my No 8 hollow molding plane and planed a shallow recess down the middle and rounded over the sides with my block plane.

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I had to carefully build the box to fit inside the case. It needed to be loose to slide in, but not too big that it wouldn’t fit. I made the box an 1/8″ smaller than the length and height of the opening of the case so that it would fit. I used simple rabbet joinery to join the sides together and a dado down the middle for the divider.

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The moment of truth. After building the box I prayed that it would slide in the case. Thankfully it did.

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My wife painted the case with black milk paint. She also sanded and stained the top and drawers with a gel stain. I then applied two coats of Waterlox varnish on the top and drawers.

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I wanted the left side to hold wine bottles so, I built diagonal grid out of solid oak and used dadoes for joinery so that the other side of the grid would slide through. This too had to be fitted carefully so that it wasn’t too tight to slide in. After everything fitted well, I took it out, stained and applied Waterlox varnish to the grid.

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Here’s the final cabinet sitting in the same spot. We removed one shelf as we felt the wine glasses hung a little too low. The cabinet came out well and was dirt cheap to build.

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Refurbishing a Dresser into a Wine Cabinet

Back in the summer, my wife bought a dresser from a couple in Kentucky on the Longest Yard Sale for $20. The dresser wasn’t in the best shape as most of the drawers were beat up , but we decided to buy it anyway because we knew we would be able to re-purpose it into something other than a dresser.

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We decided to turn the dresser into a wine cabinet so I had to remove the rails from the middle of the case. I grabbed my Fein MultiMaster and cut off the tenons that attached the rails to the frame.

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I cleaned up the middle of the case and strengthened the case where it needed with glue and clamps.

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The cabinet opening was 25 1/2″ square so I designed the inside to accommodate as many wine bottles as possible. I played with different measurements until I decided on 4″ square holes to fit the wine bottles.

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While building a couple of grids, I test fitted them to make sure they would hold a wine bottle without falling through. I made the grids from southern yellow pine and each bar is about 3/4″ square, 12″ long with a chamfer on the front.

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I built the rest of the grids and tested their fit again. The cabinet would be able to hold 25 wine bottles.

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Since the bottom of the cabinet was now open to the floor, I added a piece of 1/4″ plywood to the base of the cabinet.

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And because I added the plywood to the bottom, I had to trim a 1/4″ off the bottom to all my grids. Using my panel cutter and a hand clamp, I was able to cut all the grids to the same length.

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After test fitting everything together, all the grids came together nicely. I installed a 1/4″ piece of plywood to the back of the grids so that the wine bottle wouldn’t fall through the back.

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Satisfied with the grids, I turned my attention to the drawer and glued a new piece of wood to the bottom of one side as it was damaged. The drawer wasn’t opening smoothly so this repair helped out a lot.

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Because the grids were freshly cut wood, I wanted to age them to match the piece, so I brushed on an apple cider vinegar and steel wool solution to darken them up.

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My wife painted the inside of the case black and the outside grey with milk paint to let some of the original finish show through. She then stained the top with a gel stain and applied three coats of Waterlox varnish. This cabinet is now ready for years of use under its new life.

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Painted Apothecary Drawer

I built this apothecary drawer for a cabinet my wife bought a few months ago. You can read the post here. My wife needed to paint the drawer and make it look old to match all the other ones.

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The first thing she did was take a solution of white distilled vinegar with steel wool and wiped it on the drawer so it would take on an aged look.

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She then painted the front with white milk paint. She built up the coats to give the front some depth since the original drawers had multiple layers of paint on them. After the paint dried, she applied some green paint to front and quickly wiped it away as there was also some green highlights showing through the white paint on the original drawers.

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The drawer was a little too white, so she gently applied dark wax and rubbed it in. Getting a perfect match with the colors from old drawers is really hard, but she did a really good job making the new drawer blend with the others..

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Here’s the drawer with the rest of the them back in the cabinet. She got lucky with the hardware as she found matching pulls from a seller on eBay. She had to replace nine of the handles because when she bought the cabinet, it came with handles of two different designs.

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Bentley came to see which drawer was the new one, but couldn’t figure it out. Can you?

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Making an Apothecary Cabinet Drawer

My wife bought an apothecary cabinet that was missing one of its drawers. I took a look at how they were built and assured her that I could make another one. The drawer was about 6 1/2″ tall x 8″ wide x 7 1/2″ deep.

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The drawers are made of pine so I grabbed a scrap 2 x 8 and drew a couple of lines down the edges. The side of the drawers were about 3/8″ thick, while the drawer front was 3/4″ thick.

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I took each piece and cut kerfs down the lengths of their edges making it much easier to rip them off at the band saw. This saves the band saw’s blade and motor as it won’t have to strain as much.

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After they were ripped on the band saw, I took them over to the planer and sized them up to proper thickness.

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I made the drawer bottom out of mostly quarter sawn pine, so it wouldn’t expand and contract as much with changes in humidity. It too was about 3/8″ thick.

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Focusing on the front, I cut a 3/8″ x 3/8″ rabbet on each end the same thickness as the sides of the drawer.

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I then used my little Record plow plane and planed a 1/4″ groove down the sides and front boards that started about 7/16″ up from the bottom. This way the 3/8″ thick bottom will not rub as the drawer is being pulled in and out. You can do this step on the table saw, but I really enjoy using this little sucker.

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I cut a 3/8″ dado on each side of the drawer side so that the drawer back would fit nice and snug.

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Using my Stanley No 140 rabbet block plane, I chamfered three sides of the drawer bottom to fit inside the 1/4″ groove I plowed with my plow plane.

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Dry fitting the piece, I made sure everything fit properly and was square. The extra length of the drawer bottom and top of the back was quickly trimmed off at the table saw.

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Once everything fit well, I glued the sides and back and pinned the drawer with 18 gauge brad nails. I didn’t use any glue on the bottom as I want it to move with changes in humidity.

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After about an hour, I ended up with a nice little drawer for my wife’s apothecary cabinet. I’ll have to use vinegar and steel wool to age the pine. My wife will probably repaint the entire piece so the drawer front will match all the others.

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Bathroom Cabinet

My wife, Anita, came to me a couple of months ago saying she wanted a new bathroom cabinet. I made one when we remodeled the bathroom nine years ago, but for some reason, I made it rather narrow and too deep. It was only 24″ wide by 18″ deep. The cabinet worked, just not that well. Anita loves going to Ikea so when she came home with a brochure of a cabinet she saw in their showroom, I looked at it. It was a Hemnes cabinet for $329.00. I immediately thought to myself “that’s basically a box with doors. I can make a box with doors for a lot less than $329.00”. That’s the downside of marrying a woodworker. We always want to make a piece of furniture rather than buy it. The good thing, is we usually can make it for a lot less and customize the dimensions to fit our needs.

HEMNES Cabinet with panel/glass door IKEA Solid wood has a natural feel.

I convinced Anita that I could make the cabinet quick enough that she wouldn’t have to wait six months for it to be completed. I also told her I could make it 32″ wide as opposed to 36″ so the cabinet wouldn’t cover up part of our heat register in the bathroom. A few days later, we went to Home Depot and bought a  1/2″ thick of birch plywood for about $50.00. I cut the sheet down for 11 1/4″ wide to be used for all the parts. Once I got the sides cut, I routed a couple of 1/2″ wide dadoes in the sides for the bottom and middle shelf of the cabinet. I then used a jig made from peg board to bore the shelf pin holes on each side.

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I cut the bottom and middle shelf to size and stapled them to the sides with my 1/4″ pneumatic stapler. Because I was going to apply 1/4″ thick x 2″ wide trim around the sides of the cabinet to act as a faux frame and panel, I wasn’t concerned about the driver marks in the wood made from the stapler.

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Next, I glued the 1/4″ x 2″ wood trim to the sides. Because I still needed to put a 3/4″ face frame  on the front, the trim on the front side of the cabinet was only 1 1/4″ wide, not 2″. You can see in the picture how the trim on the right (the back) is wider than the trim on the left (the front).

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Next I glued the 3/4″ face frame to the carcass. I used pocket hole joinery to attach the stiles to the rails. This was a super easy cabinet to build.

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I added glue block to the inside top of the cabinet where I could screw the top to the carcass.

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I wrote a post a few weeks ago where I described how I stretched a board to size after I cut a board too short. You can read it here. This is the board for the top of the cabinet being glued up after it was stretched.

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In the end, we decided not to add doors to the cabinet, but instead use baskets with open shelving. The woven baskets give the piece more character rather than having an entirely white cabinet with doors that would cover up the bottom shelves. We now have more room in the bathroom as the cabinet is only 12″ deep and is a lot more stylish.

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Stretching a Board

I’m in the process of building a new cabinet for our bathroom to hold towels and toiletries. I work on it in between work and building my shed. Because I work on it only when I have the time, it opens up the opportunity for brain farts to happen. Last Monday, I went back into the shop to start making the top of the cabinet and grabbed a board of maple, looked at the 31 1/4″ measurement I had written down on a scrap piece of wood on my bench, and cut the board into 32″ segments. As soon as I cut the board, I realized my error. The top of the cabinet is 33 1/2″ long. The 31 1/4″ measurement is the width of the 1/4″ back for the cabinet. I didn’t measure twice and cut once like Norm Abram would always tell me to do. After spewing a few cuss words, I had to decide what to do next. I had two options. I could either go back to the lumber yard and buy a new board for $15.00, or somehow make these boards work. So, I decided to “stretch” these boards.

Stretching a board is often a gag placed on an apprentice in a cabinet shop.  One of the veteran cabinet makers will ask the newbie to go get the Board Stretcher. The newbie will look around the shop and then ask other cabinet makers where the board stretcher is. After a couple of minutes, everyone in the shop will turn around and laugh at the apprentice making him feel like a dumb ass. I know this story first hand.

However, you can legitimately stretch a board if you know the trick. There are a couple of criteria that makes board stretching possible. One, the board you’re stretching has to be wider than the final width you need . The second, is the grain of the board should not be pronounced highlighting the fact that the board has been cut and re-glued. This cabinet will be painted white, so I wasn’t concerned about the grain. And, the width of the three boards together is 16″ while the top only needs to be 13 3/4″ wide, so I was good to go.

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The first step in stretching a board is slicing it diagonal down it’s length on a band saw. Try to make sure the cut is as straight as possible so you don’t lose more of the board’s width than necessary.

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Next, plane the diagonal edge straight with a jointer plane to get a nice tight seam where the two halves are glued back together.

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Bring the two diagonal halves together and slide them so that the length of the new board is where you need it. Since my top is 33 1/2″, I glued the board 34″ long. I’m sure there’s a mathematical formula that can determine how much width of board you lose for every inch you lengthen it but, I haven’t taken trigonometry in twenty years, so unfortunately, I can’t help you with that.

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After the glue dries, you’ll have a little triangular shaped area you’ll need to remove with a hand plane. After you plane that area away, joint the whole edge straight with the jointer plane, and rip the other side straight on the table saw.

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After I stretched all three boards and trimmed them square, I edge glued all three pieces together. This board is now 34″ long x 15″ wide.

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Here’s the board after it was sized to the final dimension of the top of the cabinet and sanded to 220 grit sand paper. This top will work perfectly fine and no one will ever know I screwed up.

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Here’s a close up shot of the board. If you look closely, you can see the diagonal glue lines that pass through the grain. However, it still looks really nice even if the grain of the board would be shown in the piece of furniture.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Updated Tool Cabinet

I built this cabinet nearly fifteen years ago and every few years I end up updating the tools that go inside it. It’s been about three years since I updated it, so I decided it was time for a change.

As you can see in the photo below, at one time I loved MicroPlane rasps. I stuck everyone I owned onto the left door. While they are nice rasps to use, I decided to delegate them to a nearby drawer instead. The Stanley short box handsaw had to go as well. I never used it, so it was pointless to have it take up so much valuable space.

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This is how the cabinet looks today. Over the years I’ve been learning a lot more about hand saws, so my collection of usable hand saws that I have restored has grown. I knew I wanted to incorporate them into the cabinet somehow which is one of the main reasons I decided to redesign the tool cabinet.

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Hanging on the top of the left door, I have a E C Atkins rip saw that I made a new handle for it out of cherry, and a short Superior panel crosscut saw. In the middle is my original Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw I bought twenty years ago. Below it is another dovetail saw and two Disston back saws, one filed to saw rip and the other filed for crosscut.

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I stuck my hammer on the right side by my Stanley No 8 jointer plane. By the hammer, I hung a couple of bevels and a Nobex square. Underneath the screwdrivers on the right door is where I hung more measuring tools. Since I’ve updated this cabinet numerous times over the years, if you look closely, you can see where the oak veneer has been torn off the plywood substrate. To conceal the damage, I stained the entire inside of the cabinet with Nutmeg Gel Stain. Thank God I didn’t make this thing out of African Mahogany as I have no qualms about damaging oak plywood.

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The left side of the cabinet is where I stock a lot of my spokeshaves and Stanley No 66 Beader. I’d like to build a little rack for all my blades for my beader, but that will be another project for another day.

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The middle of the cabinet was left untouched as there’s really no room to do any changes. Maybe the next time I update my tool cabinet, I’ll make room for all my Festool accessories. haha