17 Years to Life

I probably shouldn’t joke about this but I’m gonna any way. Unbeknownst to me, a zillion years ago someone sadistic soul decreed that each year of marriage is marked with a traditional gift. The traditional gift was to prepare the couple for their life together. Who knew? Certainly not me when Miss Thang announced that in honor of our nuptials some 17 years previously, I would produce a piece of furniture using my own brute strength and sweat and thusly, we would be in compliance with the laws of nature and matrimony. Apparently, Miss Thang had also deduced that what was needed for this occasion was a “quilt cabinet” the exact specifications for which I was provided in excruciating detail. Again, who knew?

I dutifully acquired the raw materials for this gift of penance for my otherwise slovenly ways and set to work. This cabinet is a grain-matched mahogany frame set with beveled glass and a book-matched piece of maple plywood for the back. We opted for a light colored wood for the back given that it was (at the time) unlikely that the cabinet would be filled and thus be a very dark piece.

The base, to my shame, was constructed with pocket framing (don’t do this) and the frame was constructed with rails and stiles backed up with screws and face-grain plugs. The idea was to keep the fame as light as possible but still structurally able to bear the weight of the glass. The glass is 1/4″ tempered sheet with 1 1/2″ bevels. To allow entry to the storage area with a precisely folded quilt, the front is completely removable and secures to the frame with magnets. I got slightly carried away with this and probably used twice as many neo magnets as I needed. Suffice to say the front is secure and that turned out to be a good thing with the weight of the glass.

The interior is finished in shellac. I didn’t want oil or anything else to bleed on to the quilts and shellac sealed up both the maple and the mahogany very well. Three coats and sanded back with 320.

Finish was a two stage process. The dark parts of the mahogany have very tight grain; the brown “tiger eye” parts not so much. I needed this to be flat, so it was sanded out to 320 with blocks. Then I used a 50/50 cut of tung oil and mineral spirits to get the grain to pop and start filling the pores. Two coats were wet sanded in. When that cured, 5 coats of tung oil varnish.

I successfully met the standard for the 17th wedding anniversary by a few days. The hand finish took a bit longer than I expected but the result was worth it. I was able to sleep in the house again and am looking forward to the 18th year “traditional” wedding anniversary gift which I think is either dragon’s fur or lightning. I can’t wait.