French Closet

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Project by ToddE posted 10-03-2008 07:48 PM 2741 views 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I wanted to get this project posted for a couple reasons. The biggest was that it was a project that had to be assembled on location, but built in the shop. I have a good friend that does that sort of thing for a living, but when you don’t, it becomes difficult, especially when you have my second goal in mind. My second goal was to have no fasteners exposed, anywhere, inside or out. I didn’t want anything visible from any direction, no nail heads, staples, screws and I didn’t want to use any wood filler.

This was a custom job, built to the exact specs of the owner and was to be a surprise for her mother, so I had a specific date for completion (while mom was on vacation). She also wanted to have it a very simple peice, no ogee trim, “victorian fancy stuff” as she put it or anything. I knew right away that the corners and edges must be sharp. With hard maple, they can be as sharp as a knife as I cut myself several times pushing wood through the saw, just like a deep paper cut.

I had ordered rough cut, hard maple in from our forest product plant. Risky for the cost, because most of the maple that I have been getting is grayed. I got a great deal on the wood, but boy is it hard on the equipment. Some of the wood was curled, but most of it was straight grained. I loved it as soon as I planed the first peice and specifically saved the curley boards for the two large doors in the center.

The cabinet itself is 72” wide x 80” tall. There is one main section and two side wing cabinets. I wanted it to have a layered effect that resembled a building. One that had definitive lines and levels. Strong foundation and a reaching appearance. I thought that the blond color of the maple was great, but the sharp lines and edges seemed to visually wash out. So I thought that if I put cherry accents in the doors and bottom trim, it may create contrast within the peice and cause the observer to look around at different angles. Again, very straight-boxy appearance with trim and door accents. I also matched the color tone of the reddish/orange hue of the wood grain with the cherry wood. The cherry inserts were 3/8” square, 1/4” thick and were sanded to surface. The trim has a 3/8” wide strip that was angled on the sides and I viced them into the rabbit and then hand-planed them down. The shelves were made of 3/4 maple plywood, faced with 3/8” hard maple. The shelves have four standards in each case and can be raised in lowered at the customer’s discretion.

The door glass was made out of 1/4 inch plexiglass(lexan). There is several ways to snow or frost the glass and yes, I used plexiglass, but there is a reason. The customer had her granddaughter over one day and she decided to swing on a glass door of a cabinet and it busted and almost cut her arm off. So no glass, tempered or not, was to be used. I was going to order milk plexi, but it is absolutely insane, cost wise and I need to be able to make the project under 80 grand, so I went with regular 1/4 lexan plexi and sanders. The handles I found in three perfect sizes for the doors, each 22% of the over all length of the door. I wanted stainless steel for the door pulls and hinges because of the quality and appearance of strength and sterility it has. I thought the rod pulls would add ‘narrowness’ to my stretch efforts.

I also tried to put a stacked appearance to the peice, so I added a center rail to the cabinet, to resemble a craftsman style hutch. As far as the two peice, stacked look goes. I really wanted to put six doors in the center, but the customer wanted only four wider ones in the center for large shelves in the middle sections. My idea was to make the cabinet slender and tall. I thought with six doors I would acheive that easier, but it was not to be. I also had trim that I was going to put on the top, but it made the cabinet too big for the room. I know the pictures really don’t do any justice to the peice, but I have to stand in another room to take the pictures. What would I do different if it was my choice: mullions in the doors to break up the large area and the six doors in the center. I have about $1,000 in materials and about 110 hours into making it. Thanks for looking.

-- Allegheny Woodshop

9 comments so far

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 5079 days

#1 posted 10-03-2008 07:52 PM

looks like more great work. thanks for posting

-- making sawdust....

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2824 posts in 4870 days

#2 posted 10-03-2008 08:51 PM

looks like a great project! I look forward to the future details.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5579 days

#3 posted 10-03-2008 09:10 PM

Very nice, I like the grain figure in the Maple.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Lenny's profile


1722 posts in 4807 days

#4 posted 07-04-2009 11:46 AM

This is a beautiful piece that demonstrates fine craftmanship Todd. Well done! You made it clear that you designed it to the specs of your customer and that’s what really matters. That being said, aesthetically, I sure wish the panels were also maple. Just imagine a bookmatched panel in each door! It is beautiful maple. What material is the panel? To each their own, and there may be something else in that room that the panels compliment but to my eye, they appear to be a void in the middle of nice maple frames. In no way is this meant to detract from your work and again, you executed beautifully what your customer requested. Kudos to you!

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View a1Jim's profile


118296 posts in 4857 days

#5 posted 07-05-2009 05:30 AM

Put another notch on your table saw well done


View ToddE's profile


143 posts in 5214 days

#6 posted 07-06-2009 10:53 PM

Thank you Lenny,
Panels were just plexiglass sanded several times with different grits and some mineral spirits and oiled. Simple. She wanted the japanese paper look, but the durability of a panel and of course, didn’t want the expense of actually buying frost glass. So, this is what I came up with. A pain in the butt but worth it in the end.
Thanks to everyone for the nice comments.

-- Allegheny Woodshop

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 5194 days

#7 posted 06-29-2010 07:12 AM

Under 80 grand?

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View ToddE's profile


143 posts in 5214 days

#8 posted 06-30-2010 04:37 AM

no only a couple hundred dollars

-- Allegheny Woodshop

View BradRollins's profile


1 post in 2910 days

#9 posted 12-08-2013 10:50 PM

Great work, but the most impressive thing here is the labor rate. $718 an hour would be considered fairly steep where I work.

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