Display Cabinet

Display Cabinet

11 AUG 2019 – 20 AUG 2020

My neighbour was cleaning up their storage and offered me a big old box window, complete with the box frame! I couldn’t pass on it. So much potential…plus it was half ready!

The paint was already stripped off so all I needed to do to start was a little sanding and cleaning. There are special wood cleaners you can buy to get rid of the dirt and weather discoloration but I was planning to paint it anyway so there was no need for such reconditioning.

The big job ahead was the rebuilding… The window frame was a bit rotten at the bottom corner and front edge so I needed to reinforce the base so the cabinet would be stable. I cut out some pockets in the most rotten and strategic places and inserted (pinned and glued) new blocks of wood, that I bridged over with two long timbers.

Then flipped it right side up… And I needed to fit the sides with nice boards and cover the top. The whole old window was joined with wood pins and wood joints so I decided to continue in that style. Mostly using wood pins, glue and wood putty. My favorite being Durham’s Rock Hard 😉

Being crazy as I am, I also decided to put a little time capsule in the top part of the frame. Creating a hand made mini photo folio postponed my furniture project a bit. You can check out in my scrapbooking section.

Then I encased the base with nice decorative trim left over from my bedroom makeover hiding all my stabilisation fixes and ad-ons behind it. At the top of the cabinet I built up and expensive looking crown molding combining friend’s kitchen project overstock with small inner round corner trim.

I have a pile of old salvaged narrow shiplap… so I thought why not to use it for the back of the cabinet??… the 3 big bottom panels. For the top 3 smaller panels I decided to use aged mirrors backing.

I visited a local glass shop to see if they had any old scrap mirrors to use for my backing. The only perfect one I found was 100 years old with beveled edge – too beautiful to cut up so I took it as it was for $5. And had some ordinary ones cut to size and did the mirror distressing by myself… here is how:

“First gently remove/scrape off the back paint from the mirror, preferably at first try, using paint stripper and plastic spatula (follow the product instructions). Then use solution of 5 parts water and 1 part chlorine (regular house bleach) and spray and drip and dab on the silver mirror layer to decay it and distress as much as you like. Let sit for a while and check periodically from the front side to see how much damage you have done. When you are satisfied rinse with clean water, let dry and spray paint with mat black paint. (of course you can play around with other paint colors or even metallics…for different effects) oh and don’t forget the work SAFETY – gloves, glasses, well ventilated area/ respirator!”

I also wanted to install few shelves which had to be done before attaching the backing. For the shelf material I used some scrap plywood leftover from a friend. With plywood you get more strength with thinner material than wood. Mine was only about 1cm or 3/8” thick so I supported it with the pins on both sides and on each post in the middle… 8 pins a shelf.

… Top one between the big and small windows and couple in the bottom large window section. A small brain bender was how to drill straight pin holes inside the frame without buying an expensive angle drill…

“After exploring the tool section in our “s’hobby” store the only thing I could find was the angle attachment for the screwdriver… for hexagonal base… and the only drill bit with the hexagonal base there was a milling bit. Well with some luck it should work. And it did. I wouldn’t recommend it for any bigger task, but for few pin holes it did the job just fine. :)”

When the time for painting came I decided to use chalk paint since it has a great coverage and sticks to just about everything and I needed to unite all the different wood I used. I tried black as a base coat and mixed a shade of pink and peach for the main part of the frame. It was too pink, so I mixed the second coat with a touch more peach and it was perfect. While painting the windows I realized I like the contrast with a dark brown stain. So I decided to sand down the black paint of the whole inside of the cabinet… Fortunately it didn’t have to be sanded spotless and when the black stayed in all the depressions and scratches it actually created a nice aged effect when stained over with dark brown.

After letting the paint dry properly I sanded/distressed the edges and corners on the whole cabinet and doors and then using my finger carefully applied dark wax on those spots to age them. I also applied the dark wax using a very small brush in depressions in molding.

When I put the windows/doors back on its hinges I didn’t like the lack of contrast with the cabinet so I decided to sand the paint off all the center posts between the windows too. And then I also stained them dark brown… leaving pink in the depressions this time creating another interesting effect.

After I was happy with all the distress sanding and dark wax aging, next day I applied a clear wax over the whole cabinet using an ordinary round painters brush that was many times cheaper than “special” wax brushes. And there is not much difference really. After applying clear wax in kind of circular rubbing motion to get a nice coverage… avoid any dry spots… wait till the next day to wipe and polish the whole surface with a soft cloth. You might need a whole bunch of old cloths… I used an old T-shirt.

Old window hardware covered in grime needed to get polished with a green Scotch-brite to get rid of the ages of dirt but I didn’t want the handles to shine like new so I stopped in time to leave them some character.

And there it was. After a year of little work here and little work there, it is finally finished… hard to believe… And I love it! It even exceeded my own expectations. Now I have a completely unique display cabinet that literary reflects my whole living room style and it fits there perfectly. I’m going to use the bottom three shelves for my book collection and the top part with mirror backing for my mini bar 🙂 Rum and spirits collection and vintage glassware. Sweet! 🙂


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