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Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

author-gravatar GregRaiewski Jul 25, 2019

This armoire is made out of solid walnut and finished with the Maker Brand Co. oil and wax "Simple Finish." It features an 18" wide by 65" tall jewelry cabinet and a door with a glass mirror.

The door frame is constructed with bridle joints for plenty of strength to stand up against opening and closing with the weight of the mirror.

On the inside, there are custom earring, necklace, and ring and bracelet storage along with a few shelves. One notable feature is the necklace pegs. I didn't want to resort to store-bought brass hooks, so I fashioned them out of 1/4" brass rod with a Cheerio-shaped walnut piece on the end. I cut these little Cheerios out with a 5/8" hole saw with a 1/4" bit in the middle, which allows them to fit snugly onto the brass rod. After I epoxy them on, I chuck them into my handheld drill and shape them with sandpaper.

The legs are my favorite. They're made of two pieces of solid 1.5" thick walnut. I glue them together oversized, and then refine them on the bandsaw, followed by an MDF router template. 

This project came about as a solution to my girlfriend's plastic tupperware bin under our bed, which was full of loose earrings and a giant knot of necklaces. I have since made multiples of this piece, and it was my first Etsy sale, too. I recently made a mirror-only version of this as well, as the design lends itself to being flexible.

#midcenturymodern #jewelryarmoire #standingmirror #woodworking #modernfurniture #walnut #handmade

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

Strategic placement of the mirror is the key when photographing this piece. I can't have a nice piece of furniture with a cluttered shop reflecting in the door!

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

The side profile: I use a Whiteside router bit to shape the door pull. It's inconspicuous and doesn't take away from the clean lines of the door. There is also a small brass ball catch in there that latches tightly when shut.

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

Here's a closer look at the side profile. I reinforce the rabbeted top and bottom sections of the cabinet with recessed screws and walnut plugs. I enjoy the process of finding a good grain match in the plugs, and often save off-cuts from work pieces to do just that.

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

Here's a look at the bridle joint on the door.

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

Open view: I use 1/4" walnut veneered MDF for the mirror backer and cabinet back. This stuff had some serious curl in it, too.

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror
Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

I generally make my legs out of one eight-foot board of 8/4 walnut. I try not to obsess over grain matching, but I do love how uniform the color is.

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

This routed with no tear-out. I think the Whiteside up-cut spiral flush trim bit (what a mouthful!) has a lot to do with that.

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

Up top, you'll see the earring storage. I gang cut the three earring racks by sticking them together with double-sided carpet tape. I cut the slots out on the bandsaw with my miter gauge since the blade produces a small kerf that happens to be perfect for earring studs. The earring racks are just under 1/4" thick so you can store the earrings with their backs on. I asked a lot of people on Instagram what they would want in terms of jewelry storage before I made this. One of the biggest trends was being able to keep earring backs on the earrings instead of having to store them separately. 

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

Due to the fragility of glass, I think it is important to be able to replace the mirror if needed. This kept me from making the door a frame and panel style with the glass mirror encapsulated in the door. Instead, it is rabbeted into the back and held into place with a 1/4" backer, followed by walnut brackets that I make. I use brass screws, all clocked in the same direction, to complement the other brass features of the armoire.

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

I chose the most figured piece I could find for the necklace storage. The chatoyance was insane!

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

I use black velvet-lined foam ring storage pieces. I tried making these out of wood first, but the rings would slide around. The velvet grips the rings nicely and keeps them in place (not that the armoire moves around).

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

Human for scale.

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

Here is what the legs look like before and after refining them on the bandsaw. In the middle is the over-sized glue up. It's really an easy joint; the bigger part of the leg just has a straight jointed edge, and the smaller back leg has a simple miter. They are joined by a few 10mm dominoes. The notches cut out of the rough legs are where I affix the single clamp that is required for this glue up.

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

Here are the necklace pegs in the process of being made. I always make a few extras, too.

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

The bridle joints on the door frame seemed like a strong option, given the glue surface, compared to a reinforced miter. Glass mirrors are surprisingly heavy, even at only 1/8" thick.

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

Brass 1/4-20 bolts travel through the inside of the cabinet into threaded inserts in the legs. 

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

The finish truly brought out the beauty in this walnut.

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror
Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror
Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror
Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

Shipping this piece is not easy, but I'm happy to report that the last one I sent out went over three thousand miles from California to Massachusetts without incident!

Photo of Mid-Century Modern Jewelry Armoire & Standing Mirror

5 comments

Beautiful work on the mirror! I enjoy so many things about it, especially the design, lumber chosen, and the attention to detail with the hardware. Thanks for sharing here on SimpleCove.com! Hope to see more of your work.

Beautiful piece! Does the mirror tilt in the frame? That must have cost a fortune to ship. Could you design it so the legs are 2 pieces each and removable from the box for easier shipping? 

What a beautiful piece! The details really make it come together. 

Thank you! On the first one I made, the mirror cabinet did tilt in the legs, but I found two issues with it. First, because the glass mirror is heavy, it would bring tilt the whole cabinet back down when I opened the door. The cabinet can only go so far as it is supported from behind by the back stretcher, so it's not like it would tilt all the way forward or even past vertical. It has about a two or three degree lean. I have since retrofitted another set of brass connector bolts through the lower portion of the cabinet into threaded inserts in the legs. This solved the other issue, which was racking. Since the cabinet is so heavy, it wobbled a bit left to right. I found an angle that wasn't too far back, but just slightly off of ninety degrees, and stuck with it. The legs do separate easily, as it is only four 1/4-20 brass connector bolts that hold it all together. I have thought about it, but I also think about the customer end of things in terms of having to assemble it. It's not difficult, but that's because I know how it works I suppose. It's pretty heavy and awkwardly shaped, and I doubt that my customers will have a bunch of Festool systainers to lie it on for assembly like I do :)

@WoodGate  said:

Beautiful piece! Does the mirror tilt in the frame? That must have cost a fortune to ship. Could you design it so the legs are 2 pieces each and removable from the box for easier shipping? 

Thank you, Seth! I sincerely appreciate the kind words. It's crazy to think that this all came about from my girlfriend's knotted-up ball of necklaces! I've made three of these so far, and it gets easier every time.

@millerseth  said:

What a beautiful piece! The details really make it come together. 

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