I was approached by a friend of mine recently asking if I could help out her out and make her a jewelry case for her rapidly growing collection of fashion accessories. I guess it doesn’t help that her boyfriend is a marketing director for a jewelry distribution site. Agh well. More work for me 🙂 I was happy to help her out and build her a case. She had in mind a wall mounted jewelry case; something rather large, yet compact.
After taking some imagery of her collection to get an idea of what should be a focus for the case, we sat down and talked about materials, size, function, etcetera. We sat for a while talking and sketching out different ideas. We also spent a day rummaging through refuse stores around the Seattle area that sell old building materials and such. Luckily we have a number of stores to choose from. Restore, Second Use, and Earthwise are all stores chock full of second hand / salvaged goodies. One of the downsides to living in Seattle, it is a VERY young city, only about 160 years old. If you haven’t ever considered it, that’s stupid young. So trying to find some good old unique parts from houses is pretty much next to nil. Plan B, my mother will be visiting friends and family in Maine while this project is under way and I asked her to dig through some antique shops for some hardware for me.
After rummaging through materials we ended up choosing old cedar planking and flooring for the build. It was sturdy, very light weight and cedar always smells amazing. We also chose some rustic style hinges. One of the goals for this project was to keep the wood not looking sanded and clean cut, but not rough and jagged either. I decided to do a blend of the two, as well as sand things down but not finish. I feel the contrasts of the wood worked out fairly well. But you can be the judge of that.
Although short here are the materials we ended up getting.
Cedar planks (.25 inch x various lengths) (siding I believe)
Cedar flooring (.5 inch x 3 inch) (most flooring is a lot bigger, so this was a find)
Porcelain Tube (3.75 inches length) (I know them as bones)
Dowel (.5 inches width) (I only used about 10 inches in length)
Screen (your choice, I chose a higher strength black colored screen)
Hardware – tack nails, finishing nails, screws, nail gun, glue, etc.
To the shop! First things first. I sketched out some ideas for shelves and storage. In my head I had lots of ideas about different things i could do to make it really neat. In the end, I chose the concept, less is more. No nifty latches, swinging bars or moving parts. Just the basics.
You may not be able to tell from the sketches but I had a plan for each part individually. The main body, the door(s), the different types of wood used, where they were used, assembling them all together and finally minor touchups and add-ons. The sketch helped me stay on track, although I did stray from it a little bit as the build went on; adding parts here, taking away there. I even switched the inside compartments around completely.
I am going to break this into sections in hopes that it will be easier to follow. The first section is the case, its compartments and the back. The second is the door, and its components. And thirdly, the final touches of the build, last thought add-ons and the assembly of the door to the case.
The cedar flooring was chosen to be the main body of the case. Since they are originally built as tongue and groove floorboards I had to cut off the tongue (which I kept for later) to make it work properly. The piece below I used for a small drawer, but it gives you an idea of how the rest of the case was cut down.
I also needed them to be the same width. My new(ish) table saw got some good action with this build. I used the chop saw to cut to the pieces to length and the table saw to rip them down to the same height.
I listed the parts I needed on paper and cut them down together. After which, I was able to lay them out and get an idea of the total size and layout of the case.
As you can see, the boards needed some cleaning up, getting the old glue off. I sanded them down and cleaned them up and started screwing them down to each other starting with the center, top and bottom beams.
I countersunk the holes to hide the screws as best I could. It also helps to keep the wood from splitting as the screw gets pressed in. From here I screwed the sides on and made a decision for the inner shelves.
A view from the back. You can see the grooves of the boards here. These will be hidden by the planks that will be screwed down later. For the shelves, I cut those down to be fairly tight fitting, they didn’t need any screws so I nailed them into place with some 1.25 inch finishing nails. I chose those due to the small head that can be overlooked easier than a screw head.
Here you can see about how rough/smooth the wood ended up being. Sanded down with 80 grit After it was finished I hand sanded down a few rough spots with 150 grit, but for the most part I left it as is. I think it works well.
Since the main body is pretty much built, next came down to adding in the detail work that defined the areas or compartments of the case. I built a small drawer for rings and miscellaneous bits, needed banks for the shelves for watches and bracelets, hangers for the necklaces, etc, etc. Lets do this by sides, maybe that will make things easy to follow.
This side consisted of shelves for bracelets, and watches and other medium sized objects. Originally in the sketches this was to be on the right side but after laying it all out to get a good visual idea, I switched them.
I started with the shelving banks. I had a scrap piece of 1x.5 I ripped down at a 45˚ angle and sanded it down from there. Below is a before and after pictures of them pre/post sanded.
Since I dont have a perfect angle to rip with I had to made due with what I have. I think they came out great. Something about them not all being the same sizes makes it more unique.
I made three shelves with these banks and the fourth, since it was smaller bay, I used one of the excess tongues from when I ripped the boards down to size.
A flat area never hurts as long as stuff doesn’t roll out every time the door opens. 🙂 When I finished the build I was looking at the bays and decided to add dowels to two of the bays to hang things from. I had the room for it and it was easy to put on without changing anything.
Since the only vertical support they have is the side they are drilled through, I drilled a screw in to the end of the dowel that split it enough to tighten it even more.
Not the cleanest method but it works and the dowel is staying put. That’s what matters most here.
Next came the area to hang necklaces. This entire side essentially was dedicated to hanging necklaces and such. Since her collection was comprised of mostly these It deserved the largest area. On the top I built a small drawer for rings, and miscellaneous items; on the bottom, small divided bays.
The drawer was a simple. I had originally wanted to put it on the left side in the center, but I decided otherwise to help balance the sides. I chose a height before the shelves went in and ripped some of the boards down. I used the tongue and grooved edges to my advantage here.
Using my utility knife, I cut one of the sides of the groove off of the boards for the front and sides and used it to inset the bottom of the drawer. I used a bit of the plank wood here. Some of them were thinner and worked great for this. Again using the utility knife I cut out notches so the sides and front would fit cleanly with the bottom.
I glued them into place using the groove to make them flush.
Here you can see the cut grooves. The front cut is down to accommodate for the bottom. On the back I reversed the board to use it as a stop for the drawer.
I think this came out great; clean and smooth. The front of the drawer I sanded down, only halfway to leave some of the original paint, texture and grain of the wood. I used a 1 inch drill bit to cut out the finger pull and hand sanded that down.
On the case, I used one of the sides of the grooves that I cut off and glued it on the underside using it as the stop for the case. That way she doesn’t accidentally pull it all the way out and dump all her rings or somethings all over the floor.
I had a slightly different floorboard of Red Cedar. I chose to cut this down. It was of better material and could withstand tugging and metal bits better, per they would be hanging from it. Since I dont have a bandsaw at my disposal I decided to drill holes at the center and chop saw down to it.
Probably not the best method, but it worked fine and the results came out acceptable.
Here you can see them place in the case. I decided to put them at a 45˚ angle, so she can get behind them if need be. I also thought it would be easier to get the necklaces in and out a little better than straight vertical too.
At the bottom of the side for necklaces I put in a couple of dividers. I didn’t want to leave the area flat and blank, so I cut down a few bits of scrap floor boards and glued them down. I feel this adds a little touch of thought and attention to detail as well as again, helping balance the sides.
You can notice in some of the imagery above the back planks of the case is already attached in many of the shots. I just forgot to take the shots before I put the back on. Anyway, below you can see the planking after I put it on.
I ripped the planks’ edges down so they fit together nice and tight. I also chose this edge for the top. It has a lot of movement and natural wood feel. It contrasts very nicely to the clean wood of the cases main body.
The angled piece of wood you see there on the edge was a scrap piece I never used from the door. I decided to put that in as a stop for anything she decides to put on the on top of the case, like photos or keys. This almost wraps up the main body. With only a few minor touchups, the next phase of the build is the door.
There are 2 sides to the door (no pun intended) matching the sides to the case. Looking at the front, the left side I planned to built it as a picture frame, the right side, as screen for hanging earrings and such. both sides have their own unique aspect to them. The screen side will be its own door, which can be opened for easy access to the backside of the earrings. The left side for the photos has a unique method of replacing them without disassembling the entire front case.
Firstly, I cut down the main edges of the door, mitered, glued,clamped and nailed together. Repeat x 4 and you have the frame for the door.
From here I knew I wanted to add some pictures. So the middle beam, I designed to act like a hinge. I had to think about this for a while and figure out what method I wanted to use. I wanted to be as subtle in design as possible. I drilled a whole in the side of the main frame where a screw could freely twist, but would sit firmly into the middle frame.
This allows it could rock in and out on the axis of the screws. That way, the plastic I used as a cover for the photos could be moved and the photos could be updated at a later time.
I added the planks to the back of the photo side and its practically done. These I glued and stapled into place.
The screen side on the other hand was a little harder to do. I didn’t want to to be particularly thick but it needed to have some type of structure to it to not twist under weight and use. I decided to use the same framing material as the rest of te door, just slightly smaller in width.
After which, I took the pieces and rip down to make them thinner. This doesn’t necessarily help with structure one bit, but I compensate for that.
Because these pieces are so small and delicate I needed a way of keeping them in form to add the screen without breaking. I decided to grab a scrap piece of wood and nail them down
Lets just call this a poor mans assistant. I glued the edges and cut down a piece of screen to fit.
Using the nails, I pulled the screen tightly across the frame and cut off the excess.
I used a u-nail gun to keep the screen in place and I glued the screen down and removed the existing nails. The u-nails worked better.
I used a lot of glue, applying a number of coats slowly removing the u-nails as I went.
After the screen was set, I added the front framing to it. Glueing it into place as well. Here is a shot after its done.
Although the screen adds a good bit of structure, I didn’t feel it was strong enough. I need to reinforce it as best I could. I added a secondary framing along the edges and a 90˚ corner angle as well.
When I made the pieces for the frame I cut a number of extra pieces for just in case purposes. I used those extras to help line the outside of the frames. Since the screen frame original fit the door just so, I didn’t leave much room for any modifications like this, so I had to rip the existing structure down enough to fit them. This actually worked out better because it helped clean up some of the edges for the outside framing.
Once everything was cut down to size, I glued them into place, and clamped them down.
When the glue and frame was set, to finish the additional structural support, I added the 90˚ angle pieces. Again from the original extra pieces I cut down them down to a manageable size and added them on in the corners.
That sets the screen and its ready to be put into the door. I had purchased some tiny hinges from one of the refuse stores and installed the screen into the door.
I had cut down the planks behind the picture frame a little long and added one of the tongues I had cut off earlier and glued and stapled it into place. Its a bit hard to see here but It serves a purpose and looks nice too.
I feel like it adds a clean edge and gives the screen something to close on instead of falling into the rest of the case.
Case as a Whole
Since the door and the main body are completed there are only a number of things that I need to add in addition to finalize the build: the bones I listed earlier, hinges for the door, and a few last minutes add-ons.
What are bones…sooo back in the day for appropriate wiring on housing, people used porcelain as insulators for the electrical work. There are many types. You can see a lot of them still used in power lines, but those are a little different. The ones in the houses are small and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are usually known as knob and tube insulations. I think they were used in in houses up until the 70’s.
Enough of a pitiful history lesson. I thought they would be great to use them as a short rod to hang stuff from on the bottom of the case.
They are a good length with a knob at the end to keep things from falling off. The case is 20 inches wide so I have enough width for up to 5 bones.
It took me a while to figure out how to attach them without adding anything on to the front for support. I had originally planned to have a piece of the flooring on the bottom but after thinking things through I switched it out for the planks. I ripped one piece down to fit the back of the case and match the rest of the planks on the back. I used another plank to fit in the front and finish look and feel for bottom end. I drilled holes through the front plank to set the bones in.
From behind I drilled smaller holes and hammered anchors in through the backside that fit inside the bones.
If you know anything about anchors they expand when the screw is in place. This worked perfectly to hold the bones tight and add more support.
The hinges for the door are simple, line the door up put hinges where you want and screw them in. Done. Easy. Their hinges.
And lastly, the add-ons. I added on some of the extra tongues to the back of the door to keep the screen side flush to the planks used on the pictures side since they added depth to the door. Here is a shot of one of the corners.
I like the worn look to it. It helps keep that aged look even for a new product.
To top everything off, all that is left is to add on the last bits to hang the case to the wall. To keep the case from banging or scratching against the wall I cut out some of the extra flooring and sanded them down as small bumpers. This will help keep wall damage to a minimum.
On the top I added something similar for the wall hanger to fit through. It’s slightly thinner than the bottom in hopes to compensate for any leaning the case may do.
Aside from sanding down some excess pieces and rough spots, the build is finished. I really liked doing this and I kind of want to do another one and see if I can sell it on Etsy. If your reading this and want one. Please let me know your feedback. Something I may have missed, something I could have done differently or better.
Here are some final shots of the case I took in the shop.
Disregard the blocks on the bottom. I used those to stand it upright.
I plan on printing out some pictures and putting them in the place of the paper when it gets passed on to my friend. I also will get some imagery updated when she gets it up on the wall and her jewelry in it.
From here the only thing I need to add is the hardware. I plan to go back to a store and get some latches and such for the doors, but otherwise its complete.
Until then, Thanks for checking it out. Please leave feed back, comments, or what ever. Anything but snide remarks and sass please 🙂