Narrow-Front Cabinet


      When designing and building the entry cabinet I built some prototype doors and test panels.  Those pieces set in the shop since 2003, gathering dust and waiting for an application.  A test panel to prototype dimensions and design was built from soft maple, sycamore, and sassafras.  This narrow-front cabinet uses that panel as an inset door.   The cabinet carcase and drawer are built from hard maple.  Finish is Arm-R-Seal.  The sassafras door panel was dyed with TransTint colors to proivde a pleasing contrast to the rails and stiles.   The cabinet has found a place in my office as a storage cabinet.

  The cabinet was planned using VariCAD with a 3D model, rendered to a 2D drawing

3D Model without Door

Shop-modified 2D Drawings  Although I got lucky and got the first boards in a new pallet of hard maple, there was still considerable bowing on some of the wood.  Instead of the planned 11/16" stock thickness, the material needed to be planed to 5/8" thickness.  The modifications redlined onto the drawing reflect the effects of that change in dimensions.


  • Dimensions are 37" high by 11 1/2" wide by 8" deep
  • The cabinet is attached to the wall with an integral French cleat. i.e., the French cleat is recessed into the back of the cabinet such that the cabinet sides contact the wall and the cleat is not visible from the side.  That does mean that the cabinet sides are 11/16" deeper than the usable cabinet depth.  The French cleat is rabbeted into the sides of the cabinet, therefore all the weight of the cabinet is on the sides, not the top and bottom.
  • The lower shelf (above the drawer) is a sliding dovetail into the carcase
  • The door is attached using knife hinges.  The mortises were cut after dry-fitting and prior to glueing up the carcase allowing most of the mortises to be cut via router.
  • Finish is semi-gloss Arm-R-Seal clear urethane wipe-on varnish.  This finish brought out the quilting in the maple while preserving the light color of the wood.  The sassafras door panel was finished with Arm-R-Seal, tinted with Mixol dye.  Dye selection was trial and error on a test piece until the desired tint was achieved.
  • The drawer has a stop on the bottom to prevent pulling it out completely.  This stop rotates to allow removing the drawer


Completed Narrow-Front Cabinet



Candidate Hardware.  The brass hardware was chosen

  Large Brass Ring Medium Brass Ring Craftsman Knobs
Craftsman Pull #1 Craftsman Pull #2
Side View
Craftsman Hardware
Drawer pull too large
This one was chosen
Drawer knob didn't
look right
These two were interesting, but overwhelmed the cabinet

Installed and In place



Progress Log
  Time:  92 Hours to complete.  This included design, drafting, and shop cleanup time after the project was complete.  A good bit of time was spent trying to determine a suitable finish for the door.  Some time was spent trying a milk paint, but the results were too crude to fit the rest of the cabinet.  The combination of dye with the Arm-R-Seal to bring out a brown tint in the sassafras provided the color and contrast desired.

Last Update 06/08/11  mkl