Thorsen House Dining Room Cabinet

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Project by EläväPuu posted 06-23-2015 11:25 AM 2887 views 18 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Our kitchen needed a feature piece, and as always they benefit from a little more storage (if only decorative in this case). The Thorsen House dining room cabinet is a classic example of built-in furniture from the Greene & Greene canon. Unlike the original – which was deeply set into the wall – this is simply a cabinet which hangs from four heavy-duty steel double keyhole hangers across a reinforcing beam secured to the studwork.

The original dimensions were modified slightly in order to fit the space and to maintain proportioning. Total working time was approximately ten-twelve working days excluding the glass work, which took a lot more. Unlike other simplistic reproduction cabinets based around this design, the detailing is exact to the original with attention to the recessed/angled door framing, etc. I plan on publishing the plans should people be noisy enough :-)

Whilst the original cabinet was Mahogany, I chose to complete the cabinet in locally-sourced Birch to match the majority of our home. The finish is hand-rubbed wax which imparts a fantastic warm rustic glow and gains more character with age through subsequent applications. The glass chosen was a simple Spectrum glass for the rising smoke and Verrerie de Saint-Just antique reproduction glass for the panels. Door handles are flame Maple inlaid with a block of Macassar Ebony, whilst the Ebony plugs around the rest of the piece are B-grade Gabon Ebony with light brown streaking in places.

Thanks for looking!

-- "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence"

19 comments so far

View Will_Wood's profile


28 posts in 3391 days

#1 posted 06-23-2015 11:59 AM

Superb execution! A wonderful piece.


View Ivan's profile


16726 posts in 3922 days

#2 posted 06-23-2015 12:07 PM

Impressive G&G project. Those stained glass looks the best.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3922 days

#3 posted 06-23-2015 02:23 PM

This is very quaint looking and has a lot of character. Nicely done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Woodbridge's profile


3746 posts in 3473 days

#4 posted 06-23-2015 03:43 PM

wonderful project. The stained glass is superb.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View EläväPuu's profile


34 posts in 2336 days

#5 posted 06-23-2015 03:57 PM

Thanks guys. I look forward to doing this cabinet again at some point in the future as a fully built-in when we find the location for our next house. There’s a few things I think could be tweaked, but then again…isn’t there always?

-- "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence"

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1171 posts in 3586 days

#6 posted 06-23-2015 05:57 PM

Fantastic, Carl. Your attention to detail is striking.

Yes, the piece has a rustic look to it. But one of the notable things about the G&G houses is that the interior furnishings were all designed to work together. While I have not seen inside your house, I am guessing that the formality of a dark mahogany piece would be out of place. If this wood and finish selection works better with the other furniture you have, then this is the correct approach.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View EläväPuu's profile


34 posts in 2336 days

#7 posted 06-23-2015 06:22 PM

You’re perfectly correct Mark. Mahogany has a different requirement for lighting and balance around a space. We mostly have Birch and lightly-waxed Oak around the home. Being a Finnish house, spaces are brighter, more open and less enclosed than the “wood castles” more associated with Greene & Greene. The visual weight of a typical G&G piece needs a bit of a lift to work in the context of a Finnish home. I modified the design of the Pratt House dining room hanging vertical lantern to work in our kitchen also….I’ll certainly share that design and a bit of the process once the glass work is underway.

Rustic is an overly-broad term, but appropriate. It can imply “unrefined” or “simple” in many ways, however I think “lived in” and an aged character is more accurate. The brooding rich Mahogany look has its place….we think that pieces like this should represent the locale and the spirit of the region, hence locally-sourced (less than 30km!) Birch and the dead branch. Finnish culture is very attuned to the outdoors and our surroundings. Bringing that into the home seems a logical design choice. None of this mass-manufacture laminated soaked-in-plastic Swedish IKEA crap….

We enjoy simpler oil and wax finishes. The wood ages and lives rather than being held at arm’s distance. The tactility enhances the personal relationship with the items we choose to be in our homes. That and Nina loves sanding for some odd twisted reason. I can use that. cough

Thank you for your observations, and apologies for my mini-rant!

-- "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence"

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3482 days

#8 posted 06-23-2015 07:00 PM

This is gorgeous! I checked you projects page … This is your first post! ... Sure looking forward to what else you have done , I am always looking for inspiration.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 3398 days

#9 posted 06-23-2015 07:34 PM

beautiful piece

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4202 days

#10 posted 06-24-2015 12:03 AM

Beautiful G&G cabinet!

And rant away, brother—I’m right there with ya!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View EläväPuu's profile


34 posts in 2336 days

#11 posted 06-24-2015 06:43 AM

Again, thank you. I got a notification this morning that the project hit the top three (#1!) projects which is flattering to say the least. Very very cool.

I haven’t shared any other projects so far, however I will certainly add in our Pratt House dining room lantern. I should really have done a blog series alongside it, however I guess this will have to be a “completed project” instead. The wood side is complete, so now it just remains to finish the glass.

Unfortunately, I do not have access to a wood workshop any more so future projects are all on the back burner. My focus is all on our laser workshop and makerspace startup. Hopefully that and new home buying will take us forward into a whole new phase of our work! I can’t promise anything in the immediate future – certainly not the one where this project will be in the front of our minds – however a lot of what I’ve learnt and what has inspired me is from people sharing their work here. The very least I can do is to do the same.

Cheers Lumberjocks!

-- "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence"

View emart's profile


445 posts in 3683 days

#12 posted 06-24-2015 07:57 AM

Incredible work definitely a showpiece for sure.

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them

View jim65's profile


1020 posts in 2988 days

#13 posted 06-24-2015 01:06 PM

wonderful cabinet, beautiful work to enjoy every day!

-- Jim, Marostica Italy

View kooldecker's profile


80 posts in 2624 days

#14 posted 06-24-2015 02:06 PM

That is a stunning cabinet! as others have said, I know the wood is fantastic but the stained glass is what really caught my eye! I am wondering if you could elaborate a little on the process you used, to get that rustic “weld” look . if you did it yourself or not. anyway kudos again for a wonderful piece of functional furniture!

-- " I dont understand......I cut that board AT LEAST 4 times and its STILL too short!"

View EläväPuu's profile


34 posts in 2336 days

#15 posted 06-24-2015 03:16 PM

The method was sort of accidental to be honest. We tried the method used by Dale Barnard which is to dab hot solder beads with a wet natural sponge, however the lead lines splat outwards too much and are visible through the glass from the rear as an ugly silver splodge. That ruins all of the work done matching the shape of the front and back’s black-backed copper foiling and patina work.

Essentially all we did was to take advantage of the way solder changes from its liquidus to solidus states. The lines are tinned both sides with a medium-heavy line of solder. Enough thermal mass so that the heat of soldering one side shouldn’t melt the opposing side and flow through the union. The line being worked on is brought up in it’s weight of solder a small amount at a time and whilst molten rocked from side to side on an axis perpendicular to the line. The solder’s weight allows it to flow back and forth in the molten section whilst setting up at the edges. This produces ripples and lumps through the line. Whilst hot, the centre can be quickly dabbed with the iron to get rid of the smoother centre. That’s the lead work anyway.

I have to warn anybody trying this that molten solder can get to several hundred degrees. Having something that flows like milk at that temperature needs a lot of attention to safety. Granted, it isn’t a lot of solder molten at any one point but you’re also holding a large piece of hot glass….and dealing with a surprise amount of solder on your shorts and on your bare ankle….ask me how I know….

The foiling work is where most of the shape and character comes from. We prefer to stick with a common 3/4” grinding bit for the glass, so corners and curves with radii tighter than this have to be faked. Easier than working with the 1/4” bit anyway. Common wisdom for glass foiling is to apply a single line centred around the perimeter. This works, however the amount of foil overlapping the edges doesn’t allow for a thick lead line or much leeway for crafting shapes into the foil. In this instance we used two lines of 1/4” black-backed copper foil for each edge, both lines overlapping each other at the centre around the perimeter. The foil splits in concave areas, but nothing that can’t be patched up.

After these wider foil lines are applied and burnished out, we shape them with a craft knife blade to have unexpected twists, turns and changes in weight. Random angles, corners, etc. to add more of an organic shape. This is a lot of work when copying shaped foil from the front to the rear! Tired hands and lots of flipping big bits of glass.

This is pretty much how the tighter odder shapes are achieved from a simpler underlying (red) union of two glass pieces:

This is the “cartoon” used for planning the basic glass shaping and layout:

It’s really not important if the glass unions are centred in the lead lines or not, unlike came work. Foil gives you a lot of opportunity to bend the rules.

-- "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence"

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