Have you ever heard of a Cremone Bolt? I have a client who was looking for an office cabinet that would store a LOT. She had me over to see the space and while talking I noticed a credenza she had against the wall. “What’s wrong with that?” I asked. “It was my father’s it’s overflowing because it isn’t deep enough to hold my printer. It looks awkward and it just isn’t large enough to suit my needs. Plus I think the color is ugly.” She said.
A lightbulb went off in my head- Can’t we just make it deeper? I mean we all know changing the color is easy. So before I really knew how, I laid out the idea, and she went for it. A glass front cabinet on top for the rest of it and all her problems were solved! I asked her to send me a picture of what she might want the end result to look like and I got this:
Wow, gorgeous! I even knew exactly where she took the photo. I had been in that shop just a few weeks before. So I set off to figure out where I could get that bar lock for the cabinet. In my research for surface bolt or bar lock…. I discovered the real name is Cremone Bolt. Nice! Much easier to find once you have that information.
I have a friend who has the Mac Daddy of all wood shops. I begged him to let me use his space. This way I could pick his brain and make sure I did everything correctly. (This is why you may notice some of these photos are not in my shop.)
The credenza is oak and the first part was a cinch. This being a quality piece of furniture, when you removed the top, there was a full piece of wood on top. This is great because reconfiguring the design of the cabinet gave me enough wood to add the depth without spending any money… yet. I could (and did) use the top of the cabinet to add the extra depth so the wood would match where it needed to. (I had the added bonus of matching up the grooves too with the bottom piece- Woot!)
First thing I did was pull the cabinet apart and label the pieces. Then I cut the top down into pieces to make the sides, internal piece and bottom expansion making certain to keep the grain in the same direction on our cuts. You know how much I love my Ryobi Power Tools, right? They make my life so much easier. After marking the wood pieces where they needed to line up, used my Ryobi Biscuit joiner to make slots. (ok I completely forgot to take pictures of the use of the actual machine… DOH!
I put a biscuit in the two slots and glued it up then clamped it together and let it sit overnight to dry (ok, it was a few days to make sure it was totally cured). I took oak boards I bought from Home Depot and cut them to equal widths, then joined and biscuit-ed them to make a large slab for the new top. Clamped that and had it sit as well.
Once they were dry, I just reassembled the cabinet. I used the center piece from the old top so the new top support was “kitchen cabinet” style. The piece will still be square, it will just weigh a little less though be just as sturdy. I was doing my best to help keep the costs down as well, furniture-grade oak is expensive.
One part down…
Later, I used my Ryobi router table to route out a similar edge to what was on the former top and screwed it down.
Now comes the top part….
Plywood has a bad rap. Lots of people think it’s cruddy quality product to build with or think it’s all the fibrous overlapping stuff used in home building and flooring and don’t realize it’s a fantastic product to build with and can really lower your costs while building extra strength into your piece. Perhaps they get confused with other products..? The way plywood is made, the grains of the individual layers are placed perpendicular to each other. This gives it more strength than a solid wood piece of the same size and makes it great for furniture building as long as you use furniture-grade plywood. This is one of the reasons why I love Pure Bond plywood. Others are
- it is made in the US and Canada so the transport has a smaller carbon footprint.
- the adhesive used to bond the layers together is soy-based so it does not contain the formaldehyde other plywoods do thus keeping your indoor air cleaner
- it’s readily available at Home Depots everywhere
- there are some incredible wood veneers that are outside anything you would usually find for plywood so you can be incredibly creative with the pieces you build. Anything outside of birch and oak has to be special ordered, but can you imagine using some of these to build something? Yowza!
Plywood was the perfect choice for the sides, back and shelves in this piece. Those layered edges you see are easily covered with edge tape to make it look like a solid piece of wood. All you need it an iron, roller, utility knife, and the tape.
The cabinet came together pretty easily. I added crown moulding at the top, cove moulding at the bottom, and routed the back pieces to leave space for the 1/4″ plywood back. I made a jig to line the holes up for the shelf pins perfectly and drilled those too.
This thing is massive (5 1/2′ tall), but if she ever decides she doesn’t want it stacked, she can add feet to the bottom and it can be a stand alone piece of furniture. I ordered glass for the doors and then went to painting everything. I used a custom paint mix to get as close as I could to the color in her photo. Then I wet distressed to give it some character, glazed it with a custom black brown, and sealed it for added protection.
Once the doors came back from the glass shop I mounted them and realized the hinges might not be strong enough once I added that iron bar. DOH! I was so proud of myself- I misread the website when I ordered the hinges and accidentally ordered extras- that paid off… so I threw on two more per side to be safe.
The mounting of the Cremone Bolt was incredibly easy. The key thing it to be sure the doors are level and your placement is dead center of the stile. I attached a stopper to the non-bolt side to keep it from opening once it was locked and some magnet catches on the top and bottom.
When done, my husband helped deliver it and put it in her office.
Do you like it? She was thrilled and that Cremone bolt is just incredible!
(While Ryobi Power Tools and Pure Bond Plywood furnished products for me to use and share with you, all opinions are my own, and always will be)