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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Reclaimed Pine and Natural Edge Ash Cabinet (2013)

The Completed Cabinet

Sometime in 2012, I was approached by the advisory board of the the Franklin Park Arts Center, located in Round Hill, Virginia,  to build a cabinet to fill a corner in the reception room/gallery that leads to the main auditorium in the theater. The cabinet was to be designed and installed as part of a donor wall, which would display a large ceramic tile tree, made by local ceramics artist, Joan Gardiner. Beneath the spreading arms of the tree would be a list of names of people who donated to make Franklin Park Arts Center a reality. My job was to build a complementary cabinet that would tie in to the tree theme as well as the exposed post and beam architecture displayed in the reception room. Below is a photo of the wall slated to be the donor wall (the wall to the left of the corner beam). The cabinet was to fit into the corner and occupy the space between the door to the theater (to the right side of the photo)  and where the tree would one day be (to the left of the large vertical pipe).

The advisory board member who had initially approached me about the job asked that the cabinet have a live or natural edge top and that the vertical surfaces be made from reclaimed barn boards. She also specified that the cabinet be free of visible hardware and instead utilize European style cabinet hinges that spring open when the door is pushed.

Using SketchUp, I designed the basic structure of the cabinet, taking into account the pipe and the vertical beam I was going to have to build around. I then applied a surface with a natural edge top and barn boards for the vertical surfaces. I envisioned this as being a gray face board like oak and thought I would probably have to stain the top surface to match. The original design also incorporated a longer cabinet on the left that would completely surround the pipe. Here are a few photos taken in SketchUp. First are a few images of the cabinet construction followed by some photos of the proposed cabinet with the siding. Each is displayed from several angles.

The cabinet's internal structure.

The proposed cabinet with a natural edge top and barn board siding.

After the project was approved, a couple of changes were made. The pipe was going to be surrounded in wood so that it would not be seen at all. Also, The cabinet would be built into this surround and incorporate it into the design. this shortened the length of the left hand cabinet so that it stopped just past the location of the pipe. Other then those details, the project was on!

My first duty was to source the materials I would need. As far as the top was concerned, Ash was selected and bought from my friend Rick Herbine (http://www.herbinehardwood.com/). The material used to make the vertical sides came from Cochran's Lumber in Berryville, Va. (http://www.cochranslumber.com/). Thanks to both of those organizations for providing fine material to work with. Below is a photo of the lumber stack that the barn boards used for the vertical surfaces came from.
On to the construction. The cabinet had a skeletal structure that was made from plywood and 1 x 4 material. Making the cabinet in this way allowed me to fit the cabinets to the space by cutting the plywood. Once everything fit well, I could add all of the exterior faces to the cabinets in my shop and then install the cabinets in the Arts Center. This was the plan and it more or less worked!

Below is a photo of the base of the cabinet that sits between the post and the door to the theater. It is followed by the same base upside down.

This photo shows a variety of found items providing the height of the cabinet while I cut the top pieces of plywood to fit.
The photo below shows the two bases fit together.
After all of the fitting was done and the 1x 4 braces were put in place, the cabinets were temporarily put together and the barn boards were attached. In the photo below the left cabinet is done and the right cabinet is being worked on.
Now for the top! Below is a photo of the three Ash boards chosen for the top. Two were used. I needed to glue them up to create a wide enough surface so I decided to book match the boards to take advantage of the beautiful grain. The two boards on the right are book matched.
After they were cut to length, I glued the boards together. I used tie down straps to do this so that I would not damage the natural edge (The edge that is facing in the photos below).

This photo shows the cabinet with the vertical surfaces and the doors complete... or almost complete. A decision was made to replace some of the darker boards to give it a more even appearance. The following photo shoes the cabinet with the new boards in place and the Ash top in place.

This photo was taken of the cabinets installed and the top being finished with a satin varnish. To the right you can see the wood surround for the pipe.
After the finish had cured, The blue tape was removed and trim was put around the top. Below are a few photos of the completed cabinet. A special thanks to Joan Gardiner, Shirley Lyle Volberg, and The staff of Franklin Park Arts Center. This was a fun project and I am glad to have been a part of it.

1 comment:

  1. John Mark,
    What a great presentation and result! I can't wait to see it! Now tge pressure is on me to finish my part. I'm happy for you, your part is complete. You should be proud.
    Yes, we will have to celebrate!
    Take care,