So a few weeks back, I was walking through looking at a kitchen to bid it with an owner and the foreman overseeing his remodel. The foreman is his brother and my former boss/teacher. The foreman starts off with, we can do some open bookcases over here, and over here a cabinet over this laundry closet, and in the kitchen we can do some small cabinets above some big cabinets, and over here over the stove we can do some open shelves with radiused ends on them, and we can use heart pine, since there’s alot of that coming out of the house and laying around. Ok I say.
Little did I know that this barely mentioned over the stove open shelves would turn into one of the most intricate cabinets I’ve designed to date. And also probably one of the most time consuming I’ve ever built. Sure the open book cases that were mentioned wound up taking a week to build but they were solid wood and had to be sanded and resanded, stained, sealed then glazed… But what wasn’t discussed is that this stove is not an ordinary stove. It’s an old timey looking stove that is rather tall. 68 1/2 tall, so any open shelves now fall into the lower upper cabinets, right at the end of a very large archway entrance.
So I’m putting together all my uppers, and I look at this space. A space were open shelves are supposed to go. And I realize, this isn’t going to be as easy as open shelves with cleats or brackets on the wall. I was going to have to sit down, think this one out and draw it. Immediatly as I start drawing this piece with radiused ends little red flags start going off in my head.
“You don’t have any room here for cleats or for brackets, and even if you did, there’s nothing to support that outside corner floating over there in the air.” Great, I have to figure out how to hold those corners up, without a side on it.
“You know, you can’t use a 1/4 inch panel here like you had intended to, it just won’t support the load of the shelf.” Great, now I have to put in solid heart pine panels on the side, and probably the back, since there are no cleats or brackets.
“You know, this doesn’t land on a full wall, but a piece of casing on an archway, you can’t even drop a small side down.” Ok, we’ll wrap the shelves with a face frame.
“You know, there are radiuses on these shelves right?” Great, now I get to put radiused faceframes on the corner, this will be fun.
“You know, the reason for the shelves being radiused is because something needs to break up the squareness of the cabinets. But you have this flat facefrom.” Alright, I’ll put an arch one the ends….
On and on this line of thinking goes on til I have a really time consuming piece to build with a turned spindel with arched face frames killing into either side of it, and NOW that I’m two pieces from being able to sand and stain the thing…
“You know, this is awesome, but it’s almost kind of plain looking,” What, plain looking? Ok, so umm beads carving what???? lol And this is when I decide after taking some long looks at this cabinet, that it’s time to call it a night….
-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.