Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cabinet: a Love Letter

Awhile back, my mother-in-law Kathy asked if I could do something for her with this little corner of the kitchen:

Of course, I enthusiastically said yes and sat down and designed four different options for her to choose from (see, if you ask me to design something, I will dez-iz-ine you something).  She made her choice, I tweaked it up, and I told you that I was building the carcass last month.
But, my design is a full kitchen cabinet at 25" deep, unlike the current cabinet which is only about 18" deep.  So that meant this thing:
...would now be an issue, effectively narrowing the doorway dramatically.  So Dave and I made a trip (with a big pile of tools) to the kitchen, and spent most of one night taking this:
 ...down to this:
David was the leader of this project, and I did not envy him.  This is a coal town, and within this little bit of a wall it looked like piles of coal and ash had been simply dumped.  You know, as filler.  It got everywhere.  The lath and plaster had been drywall-ed-upon, and then of course there was wood paneling to deal with.  And Dave did almost all of the dealing-with.  The most interesting thing I did that night was attempt to remove a nail from the original endcap 2x4 with a giant crow bar that slipped off the nail and walloped me a good one on the jaw.  It made a perfect little goose egg, and then the bruise color all ended up on the bottom of my jaw...for the next two weeks, people kept telling me I had a dirty smudge on my face.

This month, I was able to get right to work painting my pretty cab carcass (well, after a little trip, which I'll share about in another post) (probably).
She is made of 3/4" hardwood plywood with 2x2 legs and 1" thick trim pieces (a mix of pine and poplar and some oak scraps), and she is heavy.  Which is good, because the drawers are made of 1" thick stock, and they are heavy, too. And they're on full-extension drawer glides.
The frames on the faces are made of reclaimed hardwood flooring, which I cleverly modified (ha).  They are beautiful maple, but with all the nail holes and scuffs and hardworn places, I thought in the end they would look better painted.  But I know they are beautiful wood underneath...does that make a difference?  We went with Sherwin Williams ProClassic interior enamel in extra white, for those who are wondering.  After priming, the whole project took half a pint of the expensive stuff.

Towards the end of my time at home, as we neared the end of the painting/finishing stage, the star of this project arrived: the butcher block.
I built everything about this project except the butcher block.  I figure I don't turn wood, I don't bend metal, and I really wouldn't know what I was doing building butcher block from scratch, especially without any planing or jointing tools.  Besides, since it will be the showpiece of the piece, I didn't feel at all good about experimenting with it.  So we purchased the maple countertop, the cutting board, the partial wall cap, and the backsplash from the pros (Swiss Woodcrafting, if you're interested).

As soon as I got it home, I slapped two coats of marine spar varnish on the bottom of all of the pieces (except the cutting board, of course).  This is the stuff they use on boats, and with it sealing the bottom of the countertop, we won't have to worry that the bottom is drying out and beginning to crack, ruining the whole project.   All we have to do is keep the top well-oiled, and we're good to go indefinitely.  For the oiling, I opted for straight food-grade mineral oil.  It's a natural laxative, y'all, so they sell it for cheap in the pharmacy aisle.  Plus it's colorless, odorless, doesn't bother people with nut allergies, and it will never go rancid (p.s. don't use plain olive or vegetable oil for this...they DO eventually turn rancid, and then what do you do??? Your whole countertop is soaked in it!).

Finally, the day came to load it all up, and trek over to Pittsburgh to deliver a great big piece of love to Dave's mom and grandma.  I got one last shot of it here in our living room:
...and somehow got no photos of it with the cutting board and drawers pulled out :(

Wanna see it in the space?
I added a couple of kick stops to the bottom so that stray bits of cereal won't roll underneath and be lost to the ages.  Again, not sure why I didn't get any photos with the cutting board or drawers pulled out (maybe because it was after midnight).  But you can imagine it, right?  The left drawer now has all the silverware in the top, and the right is supposed to hold the stand mixer and other awkward appliances.
Pretty stinking proud of this little lady. See how Dave notched out the trim on the wall for this?

One last before/after.
And that's a yeehaw.  Guess what I'm designing up now? Anyone? Anyone?

Thanks for playing!

1 comment:

  1. That is so beautiful!!!! David, your tearing out skills are amazing! And the notching of the trim is...top notch (ha, had to say it).
    If you guys ever wanted to take up cabinet building on the side, I think you'd have a future. :-)


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