Furniture Lab: Tech Cabinet Grand Finale
It’s always interesting to try and combine the old and rough, with the new and smooth. Such was the case with my first Furniture Lab project. Dubbed the “Tech Cabinet,” this pseudo-chimney cupboard incroporated hi-tech-looking printed circuit boards and LED lighting, with weathered old barn boards that have been aging in the great outdoors for the better part of 100 years (or maybe even more!).
Learn About the Entire Tech Cabinet Build
This project didn’t come to be without its fair share of problem situations that required smart solutions. Trying to cut precise joinery with wood that has largely been left untouched (ie: un-milled) can be quite difficult, to say the least, but all the trial-and-error, finagling, and head-scratching were worth it. The contrasts that abound on this piece make it what it is, and I think it’s fair to say that there aren’t too many cabinets quite like it.
See my gallery of photos for a detailed description on the construction process. And don’t forget to check back for more Furniture Lab projects from other Fine Woodworking staffers. Who knows, I might throw myself back in the mix too–sooner than you think!
Watch the Furniture Lab Junkyard Visit
Be sure to read Asa Christiana’s story outlining the original idea and intent of Furniture Lab, plus, watch our original Furniture Lab junkyard visit. John Tetreault, Tom McKenna, and Anatole Burkin visited an old salvage yard for some quirky design inspiration.
To seal any possible lead solder from contact i used a spray satin polyurethane. Four coats on each side left a nice sheen.
An 1/8th inch kerf from the tablesaw blade held the panels firmly in place. I used through tenons for the frame construction.
Here's the door glue-up with the panels locked in.
I had to rip straight edges on all the door parts to get nice square mortise and tenon joints. I wanted to get back the natural patina edge on the center gallery section of the door, so I carefully chose a close grain (and texture) match from scrap pieces and glued on 1/4 thick edging.
I added dovetailed rails to the case front. Glued and attached with copper nails. I left one rail below the center gallery un-glued and turned it into a secret drawer.
Attaching the door was a bit tricky because of the natural edge of the case front. I first attached the hinges to the straight edge of the door. Then I fine tuned the depth of each hinges mortise in the case side to get the door to swing smoothly.
I added a 12 light LED light strip in the gallery and a single blinking red light to each of the circuit panels just for fun. I first drilled a hole in the panel and attached the single light. Then ran the wires across the panel, securing them with tiny copper wires looped through tiny holes in the panel. To pass by where the door swings, I used the black casing from standard house wiring and fed it through the edge of the stile. I left a little slack and then attached it to the underside of the shelf.
Here's the switch set into the top.
I drilled holes into the back to recess the wire nuts for the light connections but left the rest of the wires exposed.
Finished photos! Here's the cabinet from the front. With a slow shutter speed on the camera, you can see both red blinking LED lights in the panels. The center gallery fits a Bose sound dock perfectly and surrounded by all the antique wood, it sounds great!
Here's the front view with the door open showing the hidden drawer. The drawer is shallow but great for a small laptop or ipad.
Detail showing the contrast between the weathered wood and satin finished circuit panel.