Hall Tree

This was the first time I have ever designed and built a project from scratch.  In the past, most of my projects have come directly off of a set of plans or I modified plans to fit my needs.  With this project, I talked to my wife and asked what she would like me to build.  She wanted a hall tree bench for our entry way.  This was my initial concept drawing.

As you can see, I made some changes from the initial concept to the finished product.  I was initially going to make it very rustic, using cedar.  However, I really like a more clean look, so I went with Cherry. The final dimensions also changed.  I kept it 84″ tall, but had to make it 62″ wide to be able to fit in the space.  I only have about 1/8″ to spare between the baseboards.

I used a high quality cherry veneered plywood for the top and bottom carcass construction.  I don’t have a track saw and I did not want to deal with cutting the 4×8 sheets down on my table saw, so I used a straight edge and a circular saw to break it down to rough dimension. I used the blue tape to minimize tear out.  It turned out much better than I expected.  At $107 per sheet, I was nervous cutting into it.  Once the parts were cut down to manageable sizes, I used my table saw to make the dados.

I refinished all of the interior parts.  It’s so much easier to do it this way.  It makes the final result much better.  This was my first time using an HVLP system.  The system I have is an inexpensive Earlex unit, but it seemed to work well.

One thing I was struggling with for the entire build was how to make the barn-door hardware.  I knew I could make the metal parts out of 1 1/4″ steel from Home Depot, but the wheels were stumping me.  I bought some black casters and tried to make a groove in them to ride on the track, but that didn’t work out well.  First of all, it was very unsafe.  I was using the table saw and on 2 occasions, the blade caught the wheel and threw it across the shop.  I ended up scrapping the black rubber casters and making some out of the same cherry that I used on the project.  I had a 2″ hole saw that worked perfectly.  To make the v-groove on the wheels, I set up my router table with a v bit that was mostly buried in the table.  Only about 3/16″ was showing.  It was much safer and produced a better product.


Close-up of hardware

I also prefer the look, as well.  I rubbed some paste wax all over the wheel and on the bolt that goes through the wheel.  They roll smoothly and quietly.

For the doors, I resawed the 4/4 cherry to make the panels.  This was the first time I’ve ever made doors this way.  I’ve done frame and panel doors before, but have always used plywood for the panels.  I really wanted to go all out on these and book-match the panels.  It’s hard to see in these pictures, but there is quite a bit of curl in the cherry.  They turned out really nice.



Interior hooks in center compartment.


Completed hardware


Overall, I am very happy with how the project turned out.  I am a huge fan of cherry and this is the second project in a row where I have used it.  It’s extremely easy to work with and finishes beautifully.


Dartboard Cabinets



I made these two dartboard cabinets as Christmas gifts.  They were two of the more difficult projects I have tackled.  I made them out of 4/4 Cherry, 1/2″ birch plywood, 1/4″ MDF, and Walnut veneer.

One thing that made these more difficult than other projects I have made is the fact that I purchased rough-sawn lumber.  In the past, I have bought S3S lumber, so I didn’t have to do any milling.  But for these, I found a new lumber dealer that carries rough sawn Cherry, so I went that route.  Initially is was so that I would have enough material to resaw the Cherry to make the door panels, but with my grossly underpowered band saw, I elected to use MDF and veneer it with some paper-backed walnut veneer that I already had.


Parts cut and ready for sanding


Cleaning up joinery with chisel

In the past, I have done a poor job of finishing and the final product always shows it.  For this project, I went with General Finishes Arm-R-Seal.  This proved to be a challenge and very time consuming.  Milling the material and cutting the joinery took an entire Saturday.  The finishing, including sanding through to 360 grit between every coat took about 10 days.


Pre-finishing interior parts


Pre-finishing door panels

I pre-finished the door panels and the interior case sides so that I would have an easier time with glue clean up and final sanding.  I put a cork layer on the interior of the back panel, so finishing the interior of the case after it was assembled would surely mess up the cork.  This worked out well and I was glad I did it this way.


Dry-fit corners


Dry-fit everything to make sure it fits together

I did plenty of dry-fitting to make sure everything looked good before I tackled the glue up.


Squaring up during glue up

It took very little persuasion to get everything aligned and square.  I’m glad I took extra time to make sure the joinery was cut square to begin with.


Glued up, ready for final sanding and finishing

After the glue-up, just to make sure it all lined up.


Hinge mortise


Cutting hinge mortise with router

I decided to go with piano hinges that I got from Lee Valley.  It was a cheaper alternative than the Brusso hinges I was looking at and I thought this project was a perfect application for piano hinges.  These pictures shows how the mortise looked.


Dart holder

Instead of creating a fixture that would hold the darts, I simply drilled 3 holes on each side of the cabinet to put the darts in.  This was very simple and works perfectly.  They are spaced 1″ apart.


Back, showing french cleat

To hold the cabinet on the wall, I went with a french cleat.  This is super easy and very strong.  I just hope that whomever mounts it to the wall, does so level.


Door pulls – cabinet 2


Door pulls – cabinet 1

For the door pulls, I decided to make them each different to distinguish one from the other.  These were just made out of some walnut scraps that I had left over from when I made the Greene & Greene mirror.


Completed cabinet 1


Completed cabinet 1


Completed cabinet 2


Completed cabinet 1


Figured cherry

This was a very fun project.  The inspiration came from two places.  The initial idea of creating these came from Brian Grella from Garage Woodworks.  His influence shows in the cloud lifts on the doors.  I have followed Marc Spagnuolo for years and his influence shows in the joinery for the case construction.  I love the Greene & Greene style, but I have yet to try ebony plugs.  Maybe next time.

Thanks for looking,