Asian Cabinet

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Project by Brian Havens posted 03-11-2011 01:58 AM 5231 views 28 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Last year, on a whim, I submitted a few my pieces to Fine Woodworking Magazine for a new feature with Hank Gilpin. My Jewelry Armoire appeared on page 64 issue of FWW #214 (October 2010), where my designed was constructively ripped to shreds, sort of.

My initial reaction was to fix the things on the Jewelry Armoire , but after some contemplation, and suggestions from fellow woodworkers (including several LumberJocks) I decided to design and create a new piece from scratch: the “Asian Cabinet”

This piece is the results.

If you reread Hank’s critique, you can see several of his suggestions implemented in this piece, although perhaps not in exactly the same way. First thing is that the rails on the stand have a spit apron, which make them play better with the trim on the cabinet. Second is that the legs and the vertical trim form a single line, but at the same time have a break between the cabinet and the stand in order to make it look like it is floating. Keeping it in line keeps the piece from looking top heavy as well. Third is the subtle curve of the leg. (A curve does not need to be extreme to be elegant.) Forth is the handles: Hank had suggested making the Katakana lettering on the Jewelry Armoire also function as the handles. This is that idea, except that I made the handles mimic traditional Chinese lacing.

This Cabinet is also much smaller and much more slender looking. The sides, back, top, and bottom are made from exactly half a sheet of (Walnut) plywood, whereas the Jewelry Armoire is made from exactly one sheet of (Lyptus) plywood.

Other improvements:

- With frameless doors, the cabinet is prone to racking. I widened the top and bottom rails of the cabinet to ameliorate the racking. Being a smaller cabinet also helps.

- I used Brusso brass knife hinges, and made custom door stops using embedded rare earth magnets and lignum vitae.

- Finished with precat lacquer.

I have a lot of photos of the making of this cabinet, with which I hope to make a video like I did for the Jewelry Armoire. (stay tuned).

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

22 comments so far

View Dennis Zongker's profile (online now)

Dennis Zongker

2797 posts in 4130 days

#1 posted 03-11-2011 02:13 AM

Great Looking Cabinet!

-- Dennis Zongker

View dub560's profile


615 posts in 3451 days

#2 posted 03-11-2011 02:19 AM

Yeah great work

-- Life is enjoyable especially when you borrow from people

View blockhead's profile


1475 posts in 3847 days

#3 posted 03-11-2011 03:12 AM

Wow! That is absolutely gorgeous! I love the long slender legs and the Walnut is beautiful. Very elegant piece. Congrats on your success, it’s well deserved.

-- Brad, Oregon- The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.

View shipwright's profile


8399 posts in 3336 days

#4 posted 03-11-2011 05:02 AM

Very nice. I think the “box on stand” theme presents a ton of room to be creative. It’s one of my favorites and obviously one of yours too. This one is exquisite.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View therookie's profile


887 posts in 3366 days

#5 posted 03-11-2011 05:05 AM

I agree with gww about the doors open shot.


View FunkadelicAlex's profile


147 posts in 3230 days

#6 posted 03-11-2011 05:29 AM

I love how clean & elegant this looks.

-- Alex -- "I will one day write something intelligent, witty, or humorous here"

View cwdance1's profile


1160 posts in 3797 days

#7 posted 03-11-2011 05:59 AM

Absolutly stunning, wonderful wood, wonderful craftsmanship.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4638 days

#8 posted 03-11-2011 07:10 AM

Brian, you knocked it out of the park on this one!

The overall balance and proportion is very sophisticated. An excellent job on material interpretation.

The craftsmanship and execution are impressive.

Got any views of the interior?

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View mafe's profile


12135 posts in 3627 days

#9 posted 03-11-2011 12:44 PM

Really a beautiful work, I think it is resting, no disturbence, and this is a high goal.
Thank you for sharing,
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 4562 days

#10 posted 03-11-2011 04:59 PM

Wonderful work, Brian. I agree about the improved flow between stand and cabinet. Excellent choice of wood as well. Being a Krenov fan, I can’t help but be attracted to this piece. Really nice!

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View SPHinTampa's profile


567 posts in 4224 days

#11 posted 03-11-2011 05:39 PM

Although I liked your original project, I think you have really hit the mark with this new design. The proportions are very graceful.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

View EPJartisan's profile


1122 posts in 3664 days

#12 posted 03-11-2011 06:34 PM

After a comparison to the Jewelry Armoire, this one is leaps and bounds more superior in design and proportion, that’s how we learn and grow. Excellent piece.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View Dusty56's profile


11852 posts in 4226 days

#13 posted 03-11-2011 06:48 PM

Beautiful piece : )

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

View bibb's profile


327 posts in 4069 days

#14 posted 03-11-2011 10:24 PM

I said this before and I’ll say it again. I am James Krenov would approve. This new version is excellent.

-- you may only live once, but if you do it right that's all you need

View Ollie's profile


146 posts in 3813 days

#15 posted 03-12-2011 01:28 AM

Super clean, I just love it completely. Awesome work.

-- Ollie, UK.

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