Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jewelry / Lingerie Chest Project Begins

It's been a couple months and I seem to have taken a long enough break from woodworking projects that my brain is looking for another puzzle to solve.

So, long story short, I have yet to build anything specifically for my wife.  

I asked her what she wants and she wants this:
  • a lingerie chest / jewelry armoire to replace her childhood tabletop jewelry box that currently doesn't fit her stuff
  • it must be big enough that she will always be able to buy more jewelry ...clearly!
    • Then I asked "But what about the lingerie part of this lingerie jewelry armoire?" 
If you know what I mean...
    • I was told that I should be more focused on solving the jewelry problem.
  • it must be designed to fit on a certain wall in our bedroom
  • it should have side panels that open for hanging long necklaces
  • it should be built in the Arts & Crafts / Harvey Ellis / Stickley style as she doesn't care for the modern, curvy, bowfronting, Victorian or Asian-inspired shenanigans that other woodworkers get to enjoy. 

Design Phase

I just went and looked it up.  I created the folder for this project in December 2011.  Whoa.  I think this is officially my most planned project to date.

After looking at some examples and gathering photos of the ones she liked the best, I began working on a 3D model in Sketchup.  From the beginning I wanted the overall design to be built around the Golden Ratio.  Almost every component and its location can be traced back to 1.618.  Hopefully this translates into a piece of furniture that looks well-proportioned and pleasing to the eye.

While working on other projects, I'd return to tweak this model after months had passed.  I'd often decide to change the joinery for a certain section because I learned more or simply because I thought of a better / stronger / more efficient way.

There's a lot to think about in this type of furniture and each of these things factored into the design in some way or other: 
  • seasonal wood movement
  • unobstructed drawer travel
  • ergonomics
  • strength of the joinery
  • order of operations
  • order of assembly 
    • it's easy to make joints in 3D that are impossible to assemble in real life
  • and other things, as well!
Most of my construction decisions are based on historical reference.  I've pieced together what seem to be the best practices for drawer construction, web frames, apron-to-leg joinery, etc. and I've chosen to incorporate as many of those best practices as possible.  

Substantial credit goes to Tom Fidgen.  I took the Sketchup model of his huntboard and dissected it piece-by-piece in an attempt to understand how it was put together, and why he chose to do it that way.  I've seen some of these methods elsewhere, but I wasn't really able to get a good look at them until I started playing with Tom's 3D model.
  • The solid wood side panels that slide between each drawer web are an incredible feature of his design and I'm using it here to separate the drawer bays from the side areas.  It's too bad I've got doors covering mine.  Having that kind of joinery visible is a special detail.  
  • I'm using his approach for joining the drawer webs to the rear legs.
  • And I'm using his approach for joining the tops of the legs together into a sort of dovetailed frame.  
Thanks, Tom!
Thumbs up!

Construction Details

Here are some of the highlights of the mental torture I'm about to put myself through:
  • solid wood drawer bottoms held in place by drawer slips.
    • this is the first time I've done either of these.
  • piston-fit drawers
    • gonna give it another try!
  • mitered tenons on the skirt rails that meet inside the leg
  • housed dovetail drawer dividers
    • first timer
  • 52" long quadrilinear legs
    • that's a long run with plenty of space to screw up
  • bookmatched door panels
    • I refuse to give up on bookmatching!
  • invisible hinges
  • velvet-lined and padded jewelry trays
    • faaaancy!
Enough typing.  Here's what it's gonna look like:

This one's for you, Babe.


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