Sewing Cabinet with Inlaid Metal Tile Accents

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Blog series by Ron Stewart updated 09-06-2021 03:36 PM 6 parts 2740 reads 5 comments total

Part 1: Introduction

09-05-2021 09:23 PM by Ron Stewart | 0 comments »

This series of posts documents the design and construction of a storage cabinet I built to hold my wife's sewing machine and related accessories and supplies. It’s made of 3/4” maple plywood with solid maple trim. Each door is a plywood slab with two inlaid metal tiles, maple ‘X’ accent inlay strips, and maple trim. The metal tiles are the focal point of the cabinet. We bought them about 16 years ago, and we’ve always loved them. We used them for a wall art...

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Part 2: Materials

09-05-2021 09:36 PM by Ron Stewart | 0 comments »

I had originally planned to build the entire cabinet from solid maple, but high lumber prices (soft maple is $7.50 per board foot at my favorite supplier) pushed me to use plywood for the case and doors and solid maple for the face frame and trim. I was also a little worried about warping and expansion problems with using solid maple for the slab doors. In the end, the plywood probably caused as many problems as it solved. For starters, it was very difficult to find in my area. I had to...

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Part 3: Case Construction

09-05-2021 09:45 PM by Ron Stewart | 4 comments »

The case is a basic face frame cabinet. I used pocket screws to build the face frame and dowels to attach the frame to the case. To conserve material, I built a ladder brace to serve as the case’s inner top from plywood. I used my JessEm doweling jig a lot on this project. I used dowels to attach the case sides to the ladder brace and fixed bottom shelf. I also used it to drill the shelf pin holes in the sides. The jig’s indexing pin makes it easy to drill...

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Part 4: Door Construction

09-05-2021 10:54 PM by Ron Stewart | 0 comments »

The doors are 3/4” maple plywood slabs with 1/2” wide solid maple trim and inlaid tiles and accent strips. They were by far the most difficult part of the project, mainly because they required a lot of careful routing for the inlays. Finishing concerns added to the complexity. I wanted to paint the trim and accent strips before assembly and attach them after applying finish to the slabs. That meant I needed to be very careful with clamping (to avoid marring the paint or finish) an...

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Part 5: (Adventures in) Finishing

09-06-2021 03:30 PM by Ron Stewart | 0 comments »

My wife wanted a light/whitish finish for the cabinet. Maple is pretty light toned, so my first thought was to use a clear water-based poly finish. When I made the cabinet top, I also made a small test piece. I applied two coats of General Finishes’ High Performance Water Based Polyurethane (flat sheen) to it, and that’s when we ran into our first big problem. In the unfinished sample piece, the solid maple was lighter and brighter than the plywood, which had a darker, pinkish cas...

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Part 6: Final Door Assembly and Mounting

09-06-2021 03:36 PM by Ron Stewart | 1 comment »

Few parts of this project went smoothly, and the final door assembly was no exception. It started well enough. Attaching the outer trim wasn’t too bad because I had pre-drilled all of the dowel holes and pre-cut the mitered corners. I just tried to use as little glue as possible (to avoid squeeze out on the finished surfaces) and use a light touch on the clamps. When I started test fitting the final set of tiles into the now almost-completed doors, I discovered that three of the t...

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