Introduction: Jewelry Armoire

This instructable describes a jewelry armoire/cabinet I made for my wife. It has 12 drawers (7 small, 5 large) with felt lined compartments, ring rolls, and 2 side doors with hooks for 36 necklaces. The final dimensions are 43" tall, 18" wide, and 12" deep.

I had a lot of fun making this armoire and learned several things along the way. I loved being able to customize the pieces instead of picking between the narrow selection of armoires offered in the stores. And my wife loved it!

One important thing before we begin - this is not an easy or quick project. I estimate that the project cost approximately $250-300 (you will have some leftover materials though) and about 80-100 hours of work. That being said, if you're still interested, let's begin!

Step 1: Materials

This project requires a lot of lumber. You can use whatever wood you like, but keep in mind that you'll be using a lot of it so it may get expensive. All of the board cuts are shown in the images below for your reference. I used pine and stained it (Fruitwood) and I think it looks great. Velvet lining is the other major expense, but depending on the quality you desire you can get some pretty cheap from Joann's.

Lumber (board feet):

  • 1.5" x 1/4" = 20'
  • 1.5" x 3/4" = 28'
  • 2.5" x 3/4" = 65'
  • 3.5" x 3/4" = 11'
  • 4.5" x 3/4" = 23'
  • 5.75" x 3/4" = 2'
  • 4' x 6' of 1/2" plywood
  • (3) 2' x 2' 1/4" plywood sheets

Other Materials:

  • Stain (I recommend gunstock or fruitwood for a lighter color)
  • Stain conditioner (to prevent blotching of stain in pine wood)
  • Varnish/Polyurethane
  • 12 drawer knobs
  • 2 door handles
  • 48 necklace hooks
  • ~2 square yards of velvet fabric
  • Fabric glue
  • Wood glue
  • 1.5" screws
  • #20 biscuits or dowels
  • Foam pad (for ring rolls)
  • Mirror (for top lid, optional)
  • 6 hinges
  • Sand paper - 80, 120, and 300 grit


  • Table Saw
  • Miter Saw (with protractor to check angles)
  • Drill
  • Biscuit joiner (optional, but preferred)

Step 2: Section 1 - Interior Wall Assembly, Side Walls

The general strategy for the armoire is to build it from the inside out in sections.  That way, if you make any mistakes (like I did) you can adjust the remaining cuts.  I started by putting together the interior section first, which holds the drawers.

The images below show the boards required for Section 1 and how they come together.  Take your time when cutting the 45 degree miters to avoid any gaps.  Keep in mind that in this step you are making 2 identical panels.
  1. Make all of the cuts shown in the first image below
  2. Cut the boards to length at a 45 degree angle
  3. Using a table saw, cut a 1/2" square notch on the short side of each board for the plywood to sit
  4. Using biscuits or dowels, glue the A & B boards together
  5. Insert the 1/2" plywood sheet (D) into each panel
  6. The drawer guides may be made by either ripping 1.5" stock in half or using the waste boards from the drawers in Section 4 (see step 6)
  7. Attach the drawer guides (C) to each panel with 1.5" screws to secure the plywood, using the guidelines in the final image below.  Make sure to make the panels mirror images of one another (make the drawer guides flush with the left side of one panel and the right side of the other panel)

Step 3: Section 1 - Interior Assembly, Back Wall

The next step in the project is to make the rear panel for the interior assembly.  No miter cuts here, so this step is much easier!
  • Make the cuts shown below in the first image
  • Make a 1/2" square notch in piece E using a table saw for the plywood panel to fit in
  • Secure both E pieces and F together with 0.5" screws
  • Secure the side panels to the back panel with 1.5" screws (or biscuits if you prefer to hide the joinery)
  • Make sure the back panel is attached such that it is sunk 1/4" from the exterior
  • Secure the plywood panel (H) to the top drawer guides using 1/2" screws
  • Secure the fake drawer face (piece G) to the top of the interior assembly using biscuits or dowels

Step 4: Section 2 - Side Doors

Now on to the doors.  You'll have to make more miter cuts and the doors are external, so make sure you take extra special care to perfect the joinery on the doors.  Again keep in mind that you are making 2 identical doors
  • Cut the boards shown below, with 45 degree cuts on the ends of the I and J boards
  • Also use a table saw to cut a 1/2" square slot 1/4" from the side of the I and J boards
  • Assemble and glue the pieces for the doors (J, L, and K).  You may also use dowels or 00 biscuits to add strength to your joinery.
  • Assemble the necklace holders by fastening 2xM pieces to a single L piece using 1.5" screws
  • Fasten the assembled necklace holders to the door using 1.5" screws to make the door stronger
  • The bottom L/M assembly on each door is inverted to make a pocket to catch necklaces
  • You should also predrill holes for your necklace hooks at this point.  I installed 6 hooks on each holder, 1" apart.
  • Once the glue dries, secure the doors to the interior section using hinges.  I've found that the best way to do this is to turn everything on its side.

Step 5: Section 3 - Top and Bottom Lids

At this point, measure the overall dimensions of the interior and door sections and make any necessary adjustments to the board cuts shown below.
  1. Cut all of the boards shown in the first image below, with 45 degree cuts on pieces N and O
  2. For piece P (5 3/4" wide), you will have to rip a piece of wider stock (7.5" or wider)
  3. Secure all of the pieces together with biscuits or dowels and plenty of glue
  4. Turn the entire armoire upside down and secure the bottom panel - make sure that the interior is square and the bottom panel is flush with the back of the armoire, then secure the bottom panel to the interior section with 1.5" screws.  You may want to remove the doors to make this step easier.
  5. Use your 2 remaining hinges to attach the top panel/lid to the armoire.  If you will be installing a mirror in the top lid, be sure to adjust the hinges for the extra width of the mirror.  For example, if your mirror is 1/8" thick, shift your hinges up 1/8".

Step 6: Section 4 - Drawers

You will need to make 6 small drawers and 5 large drawers.  Be sure to use your best boards for the drawer faces, since they will make up the majority of the armoire exterior.
  • Begin by ripping the 2.5" boards with a table saw.  The waste boards can be used for the drawer guides in Step 2.
  • Make a 1/4" square slot in the Q, R, V, and W pieces with a table saw for the plywood bottom to slide in
  • Secure the drawer slides together with 1.5" screws + glue (1 screw for small drawers, 2 screws for large drawers)
  • Slide the 1/4" plywood bottom into the drawer sides, then secure the 1/2" plywood pre-faces using 1.5" screws + glue
  • Attach the drawer faces using 1" screws - make sure the bottom of the drawer face is flush with the bottom of the rest of the drawer.
  • Drill holes in the center of each drawer for the knobs.  Drill holes which are slightly larger than the bolts for your knobs, such that the bolts slip through easily.
  • Test fit the drawers in the armoire and make any last-minute adjustments as necessary
The inserts that you use depend on the items you will put in each drawer.  My wife only needed one drawer for rings (1B + 2B), so I used the tic-tac-toe design (1A + 2A) for the rest of the small drawers.  She also chose to leave the bottom drawers open without any dividers.  I used 1/4" maple hobby board for the dividers - do not use plywood, since it is prone to warping.
  • Cut the divider boards to length and rip them to the proper width
  • Cut 1/4" slots that go halfway up each board
  • Test fit the dividers together and in their drawers to make sure they fit.  No glue is necessary

Step 7: Sanding and Staining

Congratulations!  You're about halfway done with the project!  Take a step back, relax, and appreciate how far you've come.

Now we will start finishing the armoire, which took a lot more time than I thought it would.  Some basic instructions with tips are listed below:
  1. Disassemble as much of the armoire as possible to make the finishing steps easier.
  2. Use 80 grit sand paper to smooth out any major defects.  I also like to round off the edges of my boards at this point to give them a "softer" feel
  3. Next, use 120-150 grit sandpaper to smooth each surface.  You don't have to sand the interior sections which won't be visible or the surfaces which will be covered with velvet
  4. If you are planning on staining pine wood, it is absolutely essential to prepare the wood with a stain conditioner.  Apply a generous coat of conditioner to a board and immediately wipe it off with a rag.  The conditioner fills the large pores in pine wood, providing a more even stain later on.  Be sure to remove the conditioner quickly, however, or the stain will not soak in at all.  As in step 2, this conditioning is not necessary for hidden or velvet-covered surfaces.
  5. Apply the stain of your choice with a foam brush.  I prefer the mildly brown gunstock (reddish) or fruitwood (no red) stains.
  6. Lightly sand all of the pieces with 300 grit sand paper to smooth out the grain that raised during staining.
  7. Apply a coat of varnish
  8. Sand one more time with 300 grit sand paper

Step 8: Lining the Interior With Velvet

There are many ways to finish the velvet lining.  I chose to apply velvet to the bottom, walls, and top faces of each drawer, but some people only line the bottom of each drawer with velvet.  Believe me - lining only the bottom is a lot less work!  Dry fit some velvet to a drawer and decide which look you like better.

No matter how you choose to line the velvet, the following tips apply:
  • Use fabric scissors!  They cut velvet so much better than normal scissors!
  • Secure the velvet with a thin yet generous layer of Fabri-tac fabric glue.  This glue dries quickly, so work fast.  
  • Try not to use too much glue, since excess glue will bleed through and stain the velvet.
Here are some general instructions on making ring rolls:
  • Measure the compartment which you plan to make ring rolls for and cut a 6" long strip of 1/4" foam padding
  • Roll the foam padding up into a roll and secure it with hot glue
  • Wrap the roll in velvet and secure with fabric glue
  • Slide individual ring rolls into place to test their fit - no glue is necessary if they fit snugly

Step 9: Finishing Touches - Mirror, Knobs, Handles, and Hooks

The final step is to install the hardware.  Here are a few tips for each piece:
  • Install the knobs into the holes in each drawer.  If the knobs look askew, you can always drill a slightly larger hole to even them out.
  • Install the handles on each door.  Make sure that you don't run into the necklace holders on the interior!  I installed my handles about 5" down from the top of each door.
  • Poke through the velvet with a medium gauge needle to find the predrilled necklace hook holes.  Screw in the necklace hooks by hand, keeping a finger on the surrounding fabric to keep it from moving.
  • You will also want to install some kind of catch to keep the side dorrs in place.  I used a double roller catch to hold my doors in place (see image below).  I only installed one catch near the top of each door.
  • Optional - install a mirror in the top lid.  I used epoxy to secure the mirror.  Keep in mind that if you use a large mirror it will touch the tops of the doors.  A small mirror will simply fit into the empty space of the top fake drawer.
  • I also installed small clear rubber "bumpers" on the underside of the top lid to keep the large mirror I installed from rubbing on the armoire.
Congratulations!  You're done!  Take a break and enjoy - the fun part is filling the armoire with shiny jewelry...
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