Nana's Spice Cabinet

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Project by DocT posted 01-19-2011 12:27 AM 3312 views 11 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Sometimes I just like to try new things. My wife’s side of the family draws names for Christmas. This year I got my Mother-in-Law’s name again, and she requested that I make her a new spice cabinet. She gave me some rough dimensions but pretty much left the rest up to me (except she did say that she wanted it to sit on the counter and not hang on the wall).

Boy, that leaves the options wide open. I decided to try out some new techniques. I have some spalted Maple with white rot and very prominent zone lines. Bookmatching pieces for the doors is where the whole design started. Is that Krenovian enough? I initially intended to build the remainder from White Oak and ebonize the wood to “bring out” the black zone lines in the Maple.

With that look in mind, I soon arrived at the idea of building it from Red Oak instead and giving it a char TEXTURE. This is a technique that I have used on several lathe-turned pieces but have never attempted on flatwork. (In reference to the switch of woods, there is no magic in red vs. white oak for this technique, BUT this technique is much more effective in wood with wider growth rings (faster growth) and all of my white oak is very dense old-growth wood.) To achieve the texture, the surface is deeply charred with a propane torch, and then the surface is raked with a brass brush. It’s messy, but what is left behind is a deeply weathered, almost sandblasted and ebonized surface. The surface can then be burnished or sealed. I chose to seal this cabinet with satin lacquer.

My next little experiment centered around devising a door latch. What I came up with is loosely based on an article in Fine Woodworking. It involves a revolving tongue attached to one of the knobs that rotates into a groove on the opposite door. It was a bit finicky to get adjusted, but I like that the doors remain closed and that the latch can be operated single-handedly.

Unfortunately, some of the WOW of the latch is diminished by a hinge miscalculation, which left an exaggerated gap between the doors. Oh well, sometimes our families get our best work, and sometimes it’s just for our Mother-in-Law! The cabinet is roughly 15” x 15” x 6” deep.


10 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3720 days

#1 posted 01-19-2011 12:54 AM

looking good :-)
I like the wood panels and your lock

if you one day want more open textured surfice
then try your tecnic on some different pine
yes its a mess playing with burned wood ..LOL

thank´s for sharing with us

View whitedog's profile


652 posts in 4063 days

#2 posted 01-19-2011 01:20 AM

Wow very striking look . I like the charred oak , I hadn’t though of that with oak , but it looks great esp with the spalted maple.

-- Paul , Calfornia

View Tony Strupulis's profile

Tony Strupulis

260 posts in 3729 days

#3 posted 01-19-2011 01:26 AM

That is very striking! I like it!

At what point in the building process do you torch it? Perhaps a blog on the technique is in order?

-- Tony -

View Dusty56's profile


11856 posts in 4293 days

#4 posted 01-19-2011 02:12 AM

This is just plain wonderful !! The contrasting smooth panels and coarse texture of the Oak work so well together and the colors are just perfect . Also , the nickel hinges add a nice detail as well as the knobs and their placement on the doors : )
Favorited !!

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 3894 days

#5 posted 01-19-2011 02:30 AM

nice little cabinet.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View TJ65's profile


1381 posts in 3655 days

#6 posted 01-19-2011 03:36 AM

Love it, and that latch.
You did well working with the spalted maple it really gives it a elegant touch.
Hope the mother inlaw appreciated it.

-- Theresa,

View inmysparetime's profile


26 posts in 3296 days

#7 posted 01-19-2011 06:56 AM

That’s beautiful, I love the contrast between the Spalted Maple and the black charred oak.

-- Mike from Mass

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 4133 days

#8 posted 01-20-2011 05:05 AM

That’s a beauty. Real style. That custom latch really tops it off. Cool….................

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View DocT's profile


109 posts in 4044 days

#9 posted 01-20-2011 04:52 PM

Thank you for all the kind comments.

AuroraWoodworks/Tony- I don’t really know that a blog would have much more to say. I torched this piece after assembly. That was primarily because it is constructed with mortise and tenon joints and I wasn’t sure how to prevent charring the tenons. That did make it a bit tricky to get a good char at the intersection of the pieces (apparently flames bounce-back much like a sprayed finish). Play around with it and have fun!


View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4275 posts in 3167 days

#10 posted 05-19-2012 02:16 AM

Well done on the Ebonized White Oak and the panels of spalted Maple/Hackberry are just awesome.


-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

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