Towel Cabinet

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Project by Matt Przybylski posted 12-21-2013 04:15 AM 1149 views 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, after about a year and a half battling this project, a towel cabinet for my neighbor, I was finally able to finish it a couple of weeks ago. I agreed to do this project for my neighbor just about the time I started woodworking which was a bit over 2 years ago. The problem was that it coincided with the birth of my first daughter and since then the days of working out in the shop have been few and far between. I DID get a good amount of time to work on it due to my wonderful wife being very patient and understanding but my lack of knowledge and in general taking on a project of this magnitude when I had no idea what I was getting into (I was thinking to myself “it’s just rectangular shapes, how hard can it be?”) really extended it and at times made me hate the project very much (when I got discouraged after a screw up or something came up that I had no idea how to do and spent months researching before I was brave enough to work with this beautiful wood).

It’s my first furniture project and now that it’s completed I’m extremely satisfied with it. It definitely has its fair share of “mess ups” and a lot of sweat and colorful language were a result of working on it, but I’m happy with how it turned out and very proud of it. The great part that came out from this project was that I ended up acquiring a ton of tools (jointer, planer, etc) that I deemed necessary to finish the build in the proper manner. They all helped tremendously in the journey.

The wood used is quartersawn red oak, red oak plywood, and quartersawn red oak plywood for the top. My original plans called for QS RO to be used for the top as well but I 1) underestimated the amount of wood to purchase and 2) got scared of wood movement so I decided to go back and pick up the QS RO ply (which in hindsight actually looks remarkably great in my opinion). This piece was made to fit in a small hallway at my neighbor’s house which is where these pictures were taken. It’s roughly 72” x 13” x 36” and fits great in the spot it was made for.

A few details about the build:

1) I had some panel raising bits that I purchased on CraigsList and originally planned to make the doors that way. Unfortunately either the bits were dull or I’m terrible and need more practice so I ended up using a straight bit to create the panel and then added the “profile” with a core box bit. I sanded them smooth to get rid of the transition lines and I think they actually turned out quite nice.

2) The finish is made up of one coat of General Finishes Brown Mahogany Gel Stain (LOVE gel stain, took away alot of my fears about staining), one coat of Zinsser SealCoat shellac, and 3 coats of General Finishes Enduro Var Semi-gloss poly (HIGHLY recommended, made me feel like I knew what the heck I was doing during the finishing stages even though I have no clue). I sprayed the shellac and poly with my Earlex 5500. Lastly, I buffed it a bit with Johnson’s paste wax.

3) One of the biggest things I learned from building this piece is the importance of properly set up tools and squareness. I’m still new to the process of properly calibrating/setting up my tools (I need to revisit my jointer setup BADLY) and “close enough” for squareness WILL come back to bite you as I found out many times. Being as close to perfect as you possibly can is the only way to woodwork is what I’m finding if you want to avoid hours of frustration later on.

All in all I’m grateful for the experience on this project and learned a TON while doing it. The next few projects are going to be much easier (some shop furniture) but what I learned from this build will take me a long way for years to come.

Thanks for taking the time to read (if you got this far) :)

-- Matt, Illinois,

12 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


113836 posts in 2668 days

#1 posted 12-21-2013 06:45 AM

Great looking cabinet,good job.

-- Custom furniture

View aussiedave's profile


3109 posts in 915 days

#2 posted 12-21-2013 10:57 AM

Very Nice cabinet Matt, you did an awesome job in making it. I really like the doors they are great… well done.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

484 posts in 1469 days

#3 posted 12-21-2013 03:47 PM

Thank you gentlemen, appreciate the comments.

-- Matt, Illinois,

View helluvawreck's profile


19530 posts in 1958 days

#4 posted 12-21-2013 04:29 PM

This is a very nice piece. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View BrentKistner's profile


34 posts in 1025 days

#5 posted 12-21-2013 04:43 PM

Very nice work. :)

-- "Out of the darkness back into the darkness- affairs of the cat."

View MayflowerDescendant's profile


414 posts in 1878 days

#6 posted 12-23-2013 04:17 AM

Congratulations on building this beautiful piece Matt. Awesome job! Give yourself a pat on the back as few beginning woodworkers would attempt such an ambitious project. There’s no doubt that the tools you acquired along the way will be put to great use moving forward. The lessons learned on this project will be with you the rest of your life. Enjoy – and welcome – to the craft! P.S. Hats off to a supportive wife.

-- Glen - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

View 489tad's profile


2837 posts in 2103 days

#7 posted 12-23-2013 12:28 PM

Matt the cabinet looks great. Huge project for a first or any for that matter. Panels do look great. Grain and finish are top shelf. Well done.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

484 posts in 1469 days

#8 posted 12-23-2013 03:26 PM

Thanks again for the kind words, makes you feel like all that work wasn’t wasted. And yes, you won’t get anywhere unless your wife is supportive of your addiction :)

-- Matt, Illinois,

View Brianthesawdustmaker's profile


31 posts in 599 days

#9 posted 04-10-2014 03:06 AM

Great job! I’ve found the art of woodworking is finding ways to fix those little mistakes we all make. Very ambitious first project… Kudos to you!

-- Brian, Omaha, NE... So many projects, so little time!

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

484 posts in 1469 days

#10 posted 04-10-2014 02:08 PM

Thanks Brian, appreciate it.

-- Matt, Illinois,

View Gregg M.'s profile

Gregg M.

85 posts in 773 days

#11 posted 07-21-2015 08:52 PM

Nice build Matt. I like the quarter-sawed oak. The piece is very nice.

-- Marvel Woodworking, West Chester, PA -

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

484 posts in 1469 days

#12 posted 07-22-2015 12:17 PM

Thank you Gregg, much appreciated. The QS oak is indeed beautiful. I was at my neighbor’s the other day and saw the piece again. It’s holding up fantastically.

-- Matt, Illinois,

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