Friday, March 21, 2014

Medicine Cabinet

Motivated chiefly by the desire to get all my toiletries off the sink, I decided to build a cabinet. So I pulled out a bunch of scrap wood I had stored in a closet, including a box of flooring samples salvaged from the last architecture firm I worked for. I glued the samples together to make the door, and used some scraps from an earlier shelf project to make the box. Here's the door, in the process of drying:

I originally planned to cut the uneven ends to make them straight. But then it occurred to me that, a) there was really no functional reason to do this, b) I would love to not cut wood again, and c) leaving the samples as they are would even better reveal the fact that they are flooring samples. Truth to the samples, I say!

And here's the box:

The vertical supports are mahogany and the shelves are birch. In concert with the house design, the cabinet is all natural - no paint or stain. All the colors of the finished product are natural to the species of wood. The shifted form came about fairly naturally as well - from the short lengths of wood I had, and a strategy for screwing everything together. Shifting each shelf a few inches away from the next allowed room for the screwdriver and my hand to attach each shelf flush to the supports.

After adding a couple of mahogany pieces along the back for wall attachment, and hinges for the door, a friend helped me hang it up:

Look closer now...

...and you can see writing on the back of the door. This is from the wood flooring company that provides the samples; they write the name of the wood species on the back of each piece.

I decided not to erase these - more "truth to the samples." Also this means it's not just a medicine cabinet; it's a tool to choose the wood I want to use for the next project! Feel free to stop by and pick out a wood flooring for your house. Just be warned: prices are not listed (and I'm sure some of these individual samples are worth 10 bucks).

The part of this project that took the longest was not sawing or measuring or gluing, but getting the arrangement of wood samples for the door just right. I laid them out on the table in one arrangement one day, and the next day rearranged them entirely, and the next day rearranged them again. I was going for a visual balance among the various colors. There were also a couple of different widths I had to figure out how to deal with. I ended up putting one 6-inch strip about a third of the way across the door; the rest are 4-inch. The stepping or shifting pattern of each line of samples was intentional as well; each row shifts about a third of a sample length past the next (approximating the "divine proportion" - of COURSE I use that as much as possible).

Here it is all loaded up:

Now to get a vanity cabinet put in under the sink, so I can move this stuff into that and use this one for actual medicine.


  1. Praying for you Chris. For health and strength to return and for this lovely home of yours to be full of light and joy.

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you.