Saturday, November 2, 2013


Before I begin this post, get yourself a cup of tea or coffee.  This is a really long posting.  You will understand that when you have reached the end of it.

As I had mentioned in the past, the Christmas right after Mr. Thrifty retired from the military was a challenging one.  He was still in the process of finding just the right civilian job and our income was rather limited.

As in past posts, the girls were enamored with the American Girl collection.  After Mr. Thrifty and I made the beds and outfits for the dolls, we still needed somewhere to store them.(See American Girl posts)  Once those were finished, he was looking for a wood shop project to hone some of his skills.  I suggested making the girls matching bedside tables.

This was a picture of a prototyped nightstand that really caught my eye.

In reality we could have made the 3 drawers all with a fake front and open to the side.

If you have ever seen the wardrobes that come with each American Girl Doll, they come at a hefty price.  They appear to be very well made, but cost was a definite issue here.

On E bay right now, the two wardrobes I am showing you are going for $389.00 and $269.00 respectively.

At the time, the girls both had white rod iron twin beds.
After brainstorming, we came up with the idea of making nightstands that would double as American Girl wardrobes through these years, and once they outgrew the dolls, the nightstands would convert into  regular nightstands for their teen years.  Are you still with me?

I drew a sketch of what I thought it should look like.  Then, I handed it off to Mr. Thrifty for his input.  We went back and forth numerous times until we agreed on a final prototype.  The Mr. then used Excel for the schematics which would enable him to actually make the project.  It is quite detailed and I'm sure people would pay for the pattern.

Looking at the schematics, there are two sets of double dashed lines in the front view.  The top line will be a solid shelf that will divide the inside of the cabinet.  The lower line will be a removable dowel to hang the doll clothes on. 

On the right view, there is a triple dashed line representing the stationary shelf inside the cabinet and the support for that shelf.

When he first started drawing up the plans, he came up with a great idea.  How about having the 2 cabinets open on opposite sides.  That way, if one of the girls wanted a set of matching nightstands, they could put one on each side of their bed.  He is brilliant at times!

While working on the cabinets themselves, we had to work like elves in complete secrecy.  Since this was a rather hard Christmas gift to hide in the making, the garage was cleaned up of sawdust and we covered the frames with old sheets and tools before I left to pick up the girls at school at the end of the day.  Actually, it was fun to think that we were so clever.  By the way, the girls never found out.
In order to walk you through the actual design of the front of the cabinet, I am making a simulated example since I didn't take pictures back then of every step of this particular project.

To add embellishments to the flat front of the cabinet, we glued a rectangle simulating a drawer at the top. This rectangle was made of MDF.(medium density fiberboard)

On top of that, we added a carved wood applique found at Michael's.

On top of that, he drilled two holes and added a rescued drawer pull(.50) from Habitat for Humanity.

When the pieces were glued together, he let them dry.  Then the drawer pull was screwed into place.

Once Mr. Thrifty purchased the wood, he was busy in no time making the frame of the cabinet.  Here is an early picture before painting.  I'm sure you will notice that the applique nor the handle look like the ones we used on this project.  It is surprising to find such different items, but painting them unifies them in a totally new way.

The bottom 2/3rd of the cabinet had some cabinet bead molding trim cut at 90 degree angles to form a rectangle to give the front more dimension.

These are the same principles used in facing a fireplace mantle.  Layers of moldings will build out a fireplace mantle to create the design you wish.
Paint does work miracles.
Here is a close up of the bead molding frame.
And the entire front.......
If you noticed, the feet originally put on the base were not substantial enough to hold the weight, so we  trimmed them down for more stability.
Mr. Thrifty used a piano hinge to connect the door to the base.  A magnetic closure kept the cabinet shut.  If you look very closely, you will see the dowel rod hung right under the stabilized shelf.
The Mr. cut a notch out of one side of the rod supports to easily remove the dowel.

While drawing up the cabinet, we needed to measure the long dresses to allow them to hang freely.

Room for the shoes was necessary.  Notice the knob on the lower left.  This covered the screw from the attached leg.

A cabinet cushion pad was placed on both left sides of the cabinet to allow the door to close properly.

We also measured the top shelf to allow clearance for the basket that would hold all the other accessories, such as hats, sweaters, and jewelry for the doll.  The names of their dolls were printed in the label.

A view of the top shelf.

The complete view of the inside of the cabinet.

A view with the cabinet shut.

So when the time came for the girls to switch over to their teen years, the hanger rod was removed.

Storage of their everyday items were placed on the bottom shelf.

The view of the inside of the teenager's bedside table.(It is never this clean!)

And so, with the days of dolls behind them, the girls have their very own bedside tables.
This cabinet had to be one of our most favorite projects, as the girls could grow with them into adulthood.
You still have time to create your own cabinet before this Christmas.

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