Jewellery Cabinet

One thing that has sometimes caught my wife’s attention are the pivoting jewellery cabinets that have full length mirrors on their doors, like the ones shown here: There’s typically three variations of the concept for sale locally, but they’re not exactly cheap, and they’re quite flimsy too, not good value for money.

So, I decided to try and make one. I say try, because I’d never attempted anything remotely like this before, and the only stuff that I’ve been making recently has been more along the lines of bush carpentry rather than fine woodworking, and it came with plenty of challenges, some that I resolved well, others are passable. In any case, despite the challenges and the frustrations, I’m very happy with the result, and so is my wife!

"Magic mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" I'm not Snow White but I am a very blessed woman! My…

Posted by กนกอร มูดี มูดี on Saturday, 24 December 2016


So, to a description of the build:

This project didn’t start with a downloaded design with measurements, it started with a mirror purchased at Tesco Lotus, and a sheet of composite wood, which was measured and cut to suit the mirror.

Door and back panel, identical in size, matched to the size of the mirror.

Using the cutting guide I cut the sides of the cabinet, measured to allow for Nok’s various different jewellery boxes.

The two sides have been cut to length, glued, and then screwed from behind.

I have a couple of friends who are DIY people, and I took opportunity to discuss this project with them to help me fine-tune my ideas. One of the ideas was for a rack to hang earrings. My friend kindly gave me an old picture frame, which I nailed all around the inside rear and then strung it up. Finally, I painted the whole thing with white paint, string and all, which stiffened up the string nicely.

This project was done bit by bit as I was able to find time, and opportunity without my wife lurking around! I am back to building the cabinet, here you can see the bottom and top of the cabinet cut to fit. All screws were throughly countersunk. Later, when it came time to paint the cabinet I made a filler of sawdust and glue to fill the screw holes.

All squared up and ready to move on to the next stage.

Two shelves were cut, but about 1cm less deep than the sides, and were simply screwed and glued into place on each side and from behind.

I didn’t want this cabinet to replace any of Nok’s jewellery boxes or hangers, I wanted it to work comfortably with them. So, at this point I’m testing and installing various hooks and pins to make that happen. In the middle I used two black nails to hang the jewellery hanging that my mother made as a gift for Nok years ago. On each side are two hooks for hanging necklaces, with the upper hooks mounted on blocks so that they are brought forward a little, to hopefully avoid them getting tangled. On each side I installed jointing dowels as pins for hair clips and anything else that might be suitable.

Happy with the internal arrangement, it is now time to attach the door. I decided to use four small brass hinges, which were fully recessed into the side.

Here it is, door attached and ready to paint! I mixed a little water into the acrylic paint, kind of wanted a slight whitewash affect.

First coat of the interior, I gave it two more, three coats inside and out.

After the first coat I installed the earring hanger, screwed from the front (keeping in mind that the screws will be hidden by the mirror, and that they needed to be countersunk).

While I was waiting for the paint to dry in-between each coat I worked on the stand. First step was to cut the legs, the tops of which were curved. I used an old CD-R container to mark the shape. You just never know how useful an old container can be!

I cut the tops using my jigsaw, and finished them up using my drum sander.

The base of the stand was cut from a solid piece of composite wood, and chamfered using my Dad’s old smoothing plane. However, this part of the project was not plane sailing. Firstly, when I measure the width of the stand based on the width of the cabinet and the combined thickness of both legs I got the internal and external measurements mixed up, so it ended up to narrow. Ugh. So, I cut it down to two separate feet with a piece of wood joining them together, that turned out to be a big failure due to the fact that this kind of wood breaks apart under load when cut across the grain, and joins. So, I had to cut an entirely new base plate, much the same as the original in design, but the correct width, and a little more besides. When you look at photos of the finished project you will notice that the legs pull in a little at the top, this makes sure that the cabinet can swing, and lock tight properly.

One aspect of this project that really baffled me was how to do the locking pins that hang the cabinet on the stand. I explored many ideas, and discussed most of them with my friends, and with Derek Lane at In the end I decided on custom making my own locking pins. I started by locating a pair of bolts of suitable length. Two-thirds of the length of the bolt was unthreaded, the final third was threaded. These were ideal. I drilled oversized holes through the cabinet and the legs, which in thickness almost perfectly matched the combined with of both, and I sleeved the holes with short pieces of garden hose! The bolts were a nice fit into the sleeves. I bought a spanner, but as usual one end was smaller sized than the other, so I simply opened it up to the bolt size with a grinder. I then welded both of the bolts into each end of the spanner. When finished I simply cut the spanner in half.

I traced the shape of each half of the spanner onto two pieces of wood which would become the handles.

In the background you can see the original handles, I stupidly cut holes for the bolts to go through meaning that the embedded side of the handle would be on the outside, not the inside. Very dumb mistake. So, I cut two new pieces of wood, traced and chiseled out the wood deep enough for the spanner halves to be embedded into the handles. I glued them, and screwed them down.

At this point I was pressed for time, Christmas was coming a little too fast and my wife was spending more time at home than I expected, so I didn’t get many photos. Basically the cabinet and stand were painted separately, and then assembled. Owing to a lack of time to hunt around for matching washers for the bolts (can you believe it, the shop I bought the bolts from had no washers), I assembled the cabinet without them, so I need to find appropriate washers somewhere else soon before the nuts work their way into the wood inside the cabinet. After assembly laid the cabinet flat in the stand, drilled to the centre screw hole for the mirror, ran glue around the perimeter of the door where the mirror frame touches it, and glued it down. I then screwed the top of the mirror. through from behind. The mirror originally had a single loop at the top for hanging it on a wall, so I was confident that the mirror would hanging safely on the door while I squared it up and then drilled and screwed around the door. I’ve only screwed it in three places, didn’t want to overdo it.

The fourth position was for the door knob. I drilled very carefully through the frame and the door, countersunk the bolt inside the door, and screwed on the knob. Magnetic catches are installed into the cabinet, but owning to the weight of the door they proved to be insufficient, so I added a little catch on the side, which I think enhances the look of the cabinet I think. This photo also shows clearly the locking knobs I made for each side.

Closeup of the bottom of the stand. The legs are screwed with quite long screws from the bottom, as well as two screws through the sides into those small blocks, which are also double screwed from the bottom. That might sound like overkill, but there’s a lot of weight in that cabinet!

I added a small pieces of scrap 3-ply to the back to stop the cabinet from tilting forwards, it also ensures that there is a slight tilt backwards at the top, which is of benefit inside the cabinet, making sure that nothing falls forwards when the cabinet is opened. I then gave the whole cabinet one final coat of Interior White, which I had been using from the start.

Here is the finished project, with door open, ready to go under, or perhaps beside, the Christmas Tree! When it came time to open our presents Nok was convinced that I had made something small that was in her stocking, but when she had finished opening her gifts I asked her to close her eyes while I went outside and brought in the cabinet (which had been hiding in the closet in the front of our house since it was finished at lunchtime Christmas Eve). I stood it in front of her, beside the tree, and asked her to open her eyes, and quite a look of excitement there was! Check out the Facebook post at the top of this article.

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