Ark Cabinet

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Project by Matthew T. Smith posted 05-23-2014 02:44 PM 1769 views 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Recently my wife and I were invited to attend a dedication Shabbat for a local Jewish Synagogue’s new building where the Ark cabinet that I designed and Woodleaf built was the centerpiece of the ceremony. The Ark cabinet for those of you that are not familiar with Judaism houses the Torahs for the Temple.

I educated myself about the significance of the Torahs and the Ark to the religion in order to develop a design appropriate for the congregation. I met many times with the Temple’s design committee and the Rabbi. I also attended a bar mitzvah in order to better understand the role of the Ark in the services. After countless hours spent on the design I presented it to the committee and they were quite pleased. The Ark took two and a half months for Woodleaf to build.

The Ark is very large at 82 1/2 inches wide, 41 inches deep and 10 feet high. It has a three dimensional door front with 12 Star of David’s depicted that represent the 12 Tribes of Israel which is of religious significance. The mechanism for opening the large door consists of 75 pounds of lead weights for counterbalance, a solid brass pulley, and a sash rope in order to keep the system quiet as it moves. The door is lockable but the lock is not visible from the front of the cabinet.

The interior of the cabinet features a back panel of 960 pieces of beveled ash for added dimension and detail. There is a closet switch that automatically illuminates the inside of the cabinet when it is opened with a concealed LED light strip.

The cabinet was made from cherry plywood, cherry solids, walnut and ash. It was finished with a light aniline stain and clear lacquer.

-- Matthew, North Carolina,

12 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118066 posts in 4352 days

#1 posted 05-23-2014 02:58 PM

Matthew this is an amazing piece not to mention enormous.What a outstanding design and a true work of art plus a well engineered mechanism. You are a outstanding craftsman. This piece will be the center of their synagogue for generations to come.


View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 2324 days

#2 posted 05-23-2014 03:33 PM

WOW, excellent work!

View kdc68's profile


2987 posts in 3052 days

#3 posted 05-23-2014 03:41 PM

Incredible design and quite beautiful ! Well done and thank you for sharing

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View Matthew T. Smith's profile

Matthew T. Smith

53 posts in 3982 days

#4 posted 05-23-2014 04:48 PM

Thanks Jim, Jeff & kdc,
I forgot to show the cabinet with the door raised. I’ve since switched out a photo to include door raised (piercing the top of the cabinet). There are 2 @ 38 pound custom lead weights in concealed chambers that allow the door to remain in any position while opening. The door is also lockable via a cam lever that is accessible from the backside of the cabinet ( concealed behind a lockable door panel ).

-- Matthew, North Carolina,

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 3801 days

#5 posted 05-23-2014 09:06 PM

Great work!

-- Dreaming patterns

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 4109 days

#6 posted 05-23-2014 09:56 PM

Beautifully done and lots of great details too. Very inspiring.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View waho6o9's profile


8909 posts in 3352 days

#7 posted 05-23-2014 10:36 PM

Impressive work and detail Matthew, congratulations

on a fine masterpiece!

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3067 days

#8 posted 05-24-2014 12:44 AM

Beautiful work.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10923 posts in 4827 days

#9 posted 05-24-2014 12:56 AM

Very COOL design, project, & Job…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3562 posts in 4487 days

#10 posted 05-24-2014 04:46 AM


What a masterpiece! The design is wonderful.

The size is really incredible. It really helps having people in the photo to show just how large it is! Thanks for sharing.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View squaretree's profile


160 posts in 2346 days

#11 posted 05-24-2014 11:57 AM

Very impressive!

-- if you can't find me, just follow the extension cord

View Matthew T. Smith's profile

Matthew T. Smith

53 posts in 3982 days

#12 posted 06-18-2014 07:38 PM

If you would like to see a short video of the cabinet opening go to

-- Matthew, North Carolina,

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