On the subtlety of hints…

Posted by jerry on May 3rd, 2004 — Posted in Journal, Woodwork

My partner Sharon (who writes the ‘in-a-minute-ago’ blog) and I have a great symbiotic relationship – if she leaves some of her threads in a mild sprawl across the lounge, then I can leave my music gear (mixing desk, microphones and a spaghetti of leads and plugs) decoratively draped across the dining room … And then after a while, just when the respective sprawls are looking a bit entrenched, it’s time to clear the decks – like a metaphoric clearing of the mind, ready for the next project.

A while back it became apparent that the threads had been fruitful and multiplied – to the point that they were never going to fit back in their respective boxes. So we sat down together to design a storage system that would, at least temporarily, solve the problem. Basically it would be a cabinet with drawers – lots of drawers, but it needed to be able to sit beside her chair, be accessible, and be compact enough to enable a coffee to remain in easy reach.

I had never made a drawer before, and my woodworking skills are … well… not those of a cabinet maker. So I set to work to come up with a simple enough design to provide a workable storage system. It took me about nine months to complete it, as I wrestled with the design brief. Aiming for simplicity, I looked at how chipboard furniture was assembled, but decided that I also wanted real strength (who knows when the threads might become beads – which are much heavier!).

This was a good chance to test the dovetail jig I had not yet used. I found that by cutting the two sides and the top and bottom as pairs, then they would at least start out at the same length. I also wanted the top few drawers to be in pairs, rather than full width, for added visual interest. I dovetailed the top and bottom to the sides, making an open box. But before installing the top, I decided that the divider between the top pairs of drawers should literally hang from the top board. So I ran sliding dovetails the full width of the top and centre divider, figuring I could conceal any minor tearouts (the damage) later with some beading.

Next came the drawers – a real challenge! How do you hang drawers so that the hanging device is not intrusive, and that leaves a bit of room for the intended contents! This took another month or so to figure out. Once I had made the drawers (really just trays with handles) I found that if I started from the top, then screwed in the drawer runners (inset slightly to allow the same quarter inch square dowel to be glued to the front to provide drawer dividers). With the drawers cut to size, I realised that the very top pair wouldn’t fit, so I cut them down on the saw bench, claiming this was a design feature to hold scissors, thimbles etc – you won’t tell will you? 😉

making drawers

Oh the other consideration is that I like to contrast different timbers, so some of the drawer fronts are in a red maple, the white drawers are in pine and Tasmanian oak, and the sides are in pine. And I arranged them to make three bands of contrasting colour. Finally the handles – I thought I’d surprise Sharon by giving the handles a sewing theme, so I contrived, cajoled and persuaded Sharon to make a trip to Spotlight – a little spot of textile heaven – so that I could side-track her among the fabrics while made a subversive dash to the dolls craft section where I found miniature darning mushrooms, miniature thread bobbins and a tiny teapot and coffee mug – all in wood. I had excused myself saying I needed to check out the boy toys in Supercheap Auto Parts next door, and with that I scurried unseen to the checkout with my gains and so to the car where the handles-to-be were safely stashed.


I think Sharon liked the result – because next thing, I kept finding woodwork magazines casually left open to articles on designing whole rooms of storage systems…

Chest of drawers - sewing cabinet
The finished cabinet


1 Comment

Pingback by Stitching with a Shimmy » Boggonses… What have they gots in their blogses, my precious?

[…] Her partner, Jerry Everard, is a musician, a woodworker (who’s made multiple storage cabinets for her, and even a skein winder!) is just about as amazing, maybe even more, because I have no clue how he wheedles the things out of wood that he does. He’s got a great handle on imparting philosophy as well. […]

Posted on May 10, 2007 at 11:01 pm

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