Asian Cabinet

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Project by Brian Havens posted 1135 days ago 2955 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

Dennis Zongker

2350 posts in 2093 days

#1 posted 1135 days ago

Great Looking Cabinet!

-- Dennis Zongker

View dub560's profile


606 posts in 1414 days

#2 posted 1135 days ago

Yeah great work

-- Life is enjoyable especially when you borrow from people

View blockhead's profile


1443 posts in 1809 days

#3 posted 1135 days ago

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


4660 posts in 1299 days

#4 posted 1135 days ago

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 ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

View therookie's profile


887 posts in 1328 days

#5 posted 1135 days ago

I agree with gww about the doors open shot.


View FunkadelicAlex's profile


146 posts in 1192 days

#6 posted 1135 days ago

I love how clean & elegant this looks.

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

View cwdance1's profile


1143 posts in 1760 days

#7 posted 1135 days ago

Absolutly stunning, wonderful wood, wonderful craftsmanship.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8699 posts in 2600 days

#8 posted 1135 days ago

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


9231 posts in 1590 days

#9 posted 1134 days ago

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 2525 days

#10 posted 1134 days ago

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


548 posts in 2186 days

#11 posted 1134 days ago

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


933 posts in 1626 days

#12 posted 1134 days ago

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.

-- the sacrifice of one's ego is the greatest gift to someone you respect

View Dusty56's profile


11605 posts in 2189 days

#13 posted 1134 days ago

Beautiful piece : )

-- When you arrive at my front door, please knock softly but firmly. I like soft , firm, knockers : )

View bibb's profile


288 posts in 2032 days

#14 posted 1134 days ago

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

-- "Imagination is more important than knowledge" Bibb in CO at

View Ollie's profile


146 posts in 1775 days

#15 posted 1134 days ago

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

-- Ollie, UK.

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