Display Cabinet |Federal Style

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Project by Chris Davis posted 07-13-2007 03:10 PM 5097 views 2 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a display cabinet that was built for a customer that was in need for a lot of China display space. It is 109” tall. They really like the style of Duncan Phyfe with a Federal style top. By working with the customer this is what we came up with

Mahogany wood
Full extension drawer guides
Plate groove on the shelves (back side)
Glass shelves (front side)
Federal Style top
Lighting with touch dimmer.

I had a few challenges on this project. The customer wanted a plate groove and wanted all glass shelves. After getting a quote on cutting that groove iin the glass, we determined that it would be out of the budget. I want to say it was over $400. We chose to make a plate groove from solid wood on the back 3” of the shelf. I cut two 1/4” dados (for different positioning of the display plates) into the shelf strip. Then cut a rabbet for the glass to set in. (See picture below)

The other challenge was the trim on the federal top. I wanted to stay away from milling my own molding or stacking different routed patterns. What I ended up doing was using stock 3 1/4” crown. I made the appearance of the crown splitting off and the top half shooting up the Federial top. I accomplished this by ripping the crown on a 45 degree angle, right at a normal edge or corner of the crown. I attached the bottom half like I normally would around the top. I then added the Federal style cap, which the bottom was cut at the same angle as the angle as the tilt of the crown (this crown was a 45 degree which made it easier). I reattachedthe top half of the crown, except mitered it up when I got to the Federal cap. It may be better understood if you look at the picture and follow the crown around and see where it goes. (See picture below)

Another challenge was the finish. I was matching a customers existing piece. No matter what combination of stain I mixed, I couldn’t get it dark enough and still keep the yellowish red tone in there. I try dying the sample, but I wasn’t satisfied with that. I came across a video excerpt from
Coloring Like a Pro from Jeff Jewitt. He used dye to cancel out and add different shades. I did the same technique by using a glaze to change the color. It worked out perfectly. Sometimes it is just easier to get close to the color and then tweak it to perfection.

This was a very satisfying project to work on. It kept me thinking ahead and just about like every project I do, it taught me something new. I may have some more pictures on my “Current Projects” link where I post daily picture and live video from my shop.

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

14 comments so far

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5297 days

#1 posted 07-13-2007 04:09 PM

Just Gorgeous Chris, beautiful work, you are truly a craftsman in the true sense. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 5212 days

#2 posted 07-13-2007 04:14 PM

Not much more I can say than wow!

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Chris Davis's profile

Chris Davis

1560 posts in 5032 days

#3 posted 07-13-2007 05:19 PM

Thanks for you great comments Bill and Mike.

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 5361 days

#4 posted 07-13-2007 06:50 PM

Superb work, very nice. What type of wood did you use for the drawers? Plywood bottoms?

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Chris Davis's profile

Chris Davis

1560 posts in 5032 days

#5 posted 07-13-2007 08:05 PM

oscorner, I used 1/2” Russian Birch for the drawer sides and 1/4” plywood for the bottom. I did something I normallly don’t do, I clear coated the drawer boxes.

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5211 days

#6 posted 07-13-2007 08:08 PM

this falls into my category of “and someone actually built that?” (again, I know, ... how did I ever think anything was built??) It just was. sigh.. sad, sad,sad

Magnificent piece of work.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View TomFran's profile


2964 posts in 5045 days

#7 posted 07-13-2007 09:25 PM

Chris, Beautiful work! I learn a lot from your construction comments. Thanks a lot for taking the time to tell us about your projects.

What top coat did you use?

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View Chris Davis's profile

Chris Davis

1560 posts in 5032 days

#8 posted 07-13-2007 10:08 PM

Tom, I used Sherwin Williams’ Pre-cat Lacquer with a Medium Rubbed sheen.

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5227 days

#9 posted 07-14-2007 02:16 PM

Outstanding Chris. Beautiful result, great craftsmanship. Huge, but very nicely proportioned.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 5136 days

#10 posted 07-14-2007 07:04 PM

Very very impressive Chris. I admire your work!


View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 5212 days

#11 posted 07-14-2007 07:08 PM

A truly impressive piece. I bet I could learn a lot working in your shop.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Chris Davis's profile

Chris Davis

1560 posts in 5032 days

#12 posted 07-16-2007 01:44 PM

Thanks for all the nice comments.

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6873 posts in 5030 days

#13 posted 07-26-2007 11:17 PM

Hi Chris;

Beautiful work! I think we all learn something on every piece.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Jim Reeves's profile

Jim Reeves

211 posts in 4074 days

#14 posted 05-09-2010 06:04 AM

Hey chris l don’t know what to add to the above comments, other than the Lord blessed you with awesome woodworking craftsman skills very excellent.

-- jim

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