Monday, 13 June 2016

Queen Anne wardrobe

I have promised myself that I won't make any more Chippendale miniatures before I do at least some work on the house - not just putting up new chandeliers, but also finish curtains, hang pictures, find place for all small objects still in boxes. It will go on forever, but at least some progress...

Then my Chippendale group suggested another challenge, and we decided on Queen Anne wardrobe because it is an intimidating piece, and it's great to support each other as you go.

I knew I wanted to replace the old wardrobe in the master bedroom. Not that there is anything radically wrong with it. But it is plain. I got it in a bundle from ebay so I have no attachment to it.

But of course I wanted the new wardrobe painted whitish, and I wanted it to match the dressing table.

I will tell the story in detail because it is illuminating. It has been a while since I showed a project step by step, but I took lots of pictures for the challenge so I can just as well share them. And reflect on the process.

So the first thing to do is, as usual, lay out the parts. Because it is a large piece, there were two layout sheets, one for the base and one for the cabinet.

Since I wasn't going to stain I could start assembling at once, after sanding all outside surfaces. This is part of the skill: figure out which will be outside surfaces. I was planning to have two different colours on the inside and outside, and typically I would paint first, but in this case I knew that the inside of the base, where the drawers go, would be unpainted. Therefore I could glue it together right away.


You would think that after the numerous chests I had made this would be child's play, but each piece is unique and has its own intricacies. The drawer boxes are very low and hard to manipulate, and one shelf had to be flush with the back and the other two flush with the front, so it was less straightforward than a simple chest. And as you see, it had to dry held by tape. Sometimes I use rubber bands, but there were too many details to keep in place.

While it was drying I had a look at the other layout sheet.

It was frightening, until I realised that four panels and sixteen small parts were drawers, and if I assembled the drawers the rest would be much more manageable. This is the wisdom you have gained after you have made a dozen chests. Therefore I identified the drawer parts and glued the drawers, except fronts that I would add later.


Everything became clearer now. Also, I forgot to mention that I had sanded the legs first of all. This is another wisdom gathered after a number of cabriole leg chairs and sideboards. Sand a leg every now and then, when you need a rest from intellectual work. It takes ages.

So as I returned to the base I had legs ready.


This was best to leave to dry overnight, and I switched my attention to the cabinet. I knew I wanted to wash the inside with light blue, and now I could figure out which the inside was, sides, back and shelves. I have used wash on several pieces, including the kitchen cabinet, and the secret is, as with so many other things, patience. You may think that if you use diluted paint one coat will be enough, but it isn't. To have a nice wash effect you need three to four coats. But it's worth while.

This assembly also had to dry overnight, which left me with doors. Now, I know that I am profoundly stupid when it comes to three-dimensional thinking. Trigonometry was my worst subject in school, and I cannot do any 3D puzzles. So I spent a very, very long time trying to figure out how to assemble the doors. The instruction is very simple, and I looked at the picture, and I just didn't get it. I was about to appeal to my Chippendale group companion, but then I happened to turn a part upside down, and it all became clear. This keeps happening to me all the time.


Again, based on previous mistakes I remembered to check the pin holes so that I quite correctly ended up with one left and one right door.

The next step in the instructions was to assemble the front frame, which felt tricky, as I was sure it would break when I lifted it.


As you probably see I use a plastic chopping board as work surface so that the assembly doesn't stick. And I managed to lift it and glue on to the cabinet.


This felt good, until I tested the doors and found that they were a millimetre taller than the frame.  A millimetre is a huge error in this scale.


There could be two reasons for this. Firstly, the parts didn't fit. This does not happen with these kits, they are precision-cut. Therefore it was my fault; I had obviously done something wrong.

It was quite late in the evening, and I couldn't cope with it. Instead, I put the cabinet on top of the base and pretended that I had simply finished for the day.


Then I went to bed. And as a good storyteller, I will keep you in suspense so that you come back to read the rest of the story.

To be continued. 

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