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Project Breakdown: Small Cabinet

Let’s take a closer look at a small cabinet I made from cardboard.

So, this little cabinet-thing isn’t my typical thing, but, as Erika mentioned, I was trying to make something that had some functional purpose and utility, and not just the ridiculous things I typically make. So I tried to make this small cardboard cabinet.

Experiment one: quilled window grille

One of the things I wanted to try was to use quilling to create a sort of grille effect in the window. I think that came out moderately well, although if I were to do it again I would use a tighter, more structural design. This design is too open and loose, which left room for the paper to expand out of shape.

Test two: making a drawer

This was my first time making a drawer, which was a surprising challenge – it seems easier and more intuitive than it actually turned out to be. The sides kept being too high and not wanting to slide freely.

My tendency is to create the shape with cardboard, and then add surfacing. In this instance, all the surfacing I did after the fact kept making the drawer slightly larger, which impaired its movement. It was annoying, and I kept taking sandpaper and stuff to shave it back down.

When taking these pictures, I remembered that I never finished lining the drawer like I meant to. I have the felt and everything.

Challenge three: hinges and door

This was also my first time making paper hinges, which was something I hadn’t tried at all before.

I was pretty pleased that they work as well as they do, and the door swings nicely, but these hinges don’t look very good. It was also surprisingly difficult to install these hinges – I was pleased when they turned so well and freely, but the process of making the door hang correctly was more of a challenge than I anticipated.

As you can see, the door hangs with a gap, and the face of the drawer isn’t as deep as the door, so it looks janky and off-kilter from this side.

After I made the paper hinges, I realized that they also needed to support the weight of the door. Stupid oversight; I just didn’t think about the fact that they have a weight-bearing function. So in order to help support the weight of the door, I used a magnet on the knob side.

As you can see, the knob is held in place with steel wire, which I overlapped and left exposed, so that it would connect with a magnet I embedded in the frame. This allows the knob side of the door to hold up some of the weight of the door itself, without putting more weight on those delicate little paper hinges.

Cardboard project surfacing

As you already know, I care a lot about how I surface cardboard. On this project, I decided to use watercolor paper, because it’s so structural, and has almost a plaster look. I wouldn’t do that again, though. Watercolor paper is so rigid that it doesn’t fold cleanly, and it resists glue. But, maddeningly, it’s also (of course) really reactive to water, so when you water down the glue, as is my wont, the paper buckles and warps quite a bit, and it takes a lot of effort to get it to dry clean and flat.

All in all, if you look at this thing from a distance, with your eyes squinted a bit, it doesn’t look too bad. And I learned a whole lot of great lessons while making it, which was the real point. My subsequent drawers and hinges have been MUCH better.

Because I already had the cardboard and wood glue and quilling paper and wooden beads and fridge magnets, all I really had to buy to make it was the watercolor paper. So hey, free little cabinet! I have thought about hanging small hooks inside, and using it for jewelry.

I picked up a lot of great skills on this project and had fun with it, and that’s about all you can ask for.

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