As nice as store-bought stuff can be, people (especially moms) appreciate the effort more than the actual present. So for people I don’t know what to buy for (moms and grandma’s are the hardest, especially the “I’ve got everything I want” ones… mine… srry this is a guy speaking), I try to re- and up-cycle stuff I’ve got lying around. I consider myself a handy-stuff-hoarder. Stuff like springs, ice-creamsticks, silicabags, springs, D-rings, pieces of thick leather or sturdy cloth, clips and straps from bags never end up in the garbage if I get my hands on it!
Anyway, this jewelry cabinet behind a mirror is no new idea. But I had a hard time finding proper idea’s posted so far and although store-bought ones look really nice, they are very expensive!
This was a last-minute build and winged from start to finish. I had a rough idea, some left over hardwood baseboards you use for flooring and 1 mirror with a wooden frame, a heavy mirror, but doable… I had 2 days before mothersday and I couldn’t spent full days on this project either, so sufficient to say things could have been done different… better. But then again I’ve spent only around $15,- on this whole build. Having just said that I save lots of crap, the only things bought were the piano-hinge, the hairrollers, the small hooks and the small extra mirror.
I want to point out that I changed things during the build a couple of times. If you see pictures where other parts are missing or “spontaneously appeared”, its because its winged, changed, done in the wrong order or removed in the endproduct.
Extra supports and dividers were added as my inspiration was coming and going.
My apologies for the bad quality photos, I was kinda struggling with time, space, light and planning…
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Step 1: Tools and Materials
Since I winged the whole thing I don’t have a picture with ALL necessities in one picture. I tried my best to document it a bit by section. Now, hindsight, I can list all of them, but no picture.
· Electric drill
· Drill bits; countersink-bit,
· Saw and miter-box
· Staplegun with light duty staples
· Measuring tape/ ruler
· Iron saw
· Hamer and 1 small nail
· Glue gun
· 1 mirror with a wooden frame
· Galvanized fencing stuff, small squares (5mm x 5mm)
· Iron or brass dowels
· 1 icecube tray
· 6 soft-twist hairrollers
· Couple patches of leather/ cloth
· Shoebox cover
· Thread and needle
· 3 hinges or 1 pianohinge
· 1 stainless steel kitchentowel holder
· Small mirror for inside cabinet
· 3 clothespins
· 19 small ceiling hooks
· 60mm x 10mm hardwood flooring, approx. 8m in length
· Thin 1¼” screws
· Some accessories, trinkets, touch- and cover-ups (mainly flowers and butterfly’s in my case)
Step 2: Frame and Supports
The startingpoint for this project is the size of your wooden frame around the mirror. I took my bedroom-mirror since it was the only one suitable (since I didn’t want to build a mirror-platform from plywood or something. If you have a large frameless mirror you could fasten it to a board of plywood). So I have a heavy but framed, 115cm high by 54cm wide mirror.
I start by building a rectangular frame fitting to the mirrorsize. Predrilling and countersinking EVERY hole to prevent splitting.
So side boards go against the top and bottom board (they measured 2x 115cm and 2x 52cm), every corner gets 2 brass 1¼”, thin screws.
The diagonal cornersupports are sawn using a miter-box to guide my 45-degree cuts and end up being 23cm on the long side and about 12cm on the inside. I will probably use these diagonal supports for anchoring it to the wall aswell.
Since I had such a big surface to work with I already knew I had to divide the frame lenght-wise giving the frame more support.
I thought off and made all the pockets and pouches, holders and trays after the frame was divided in 3 compartments (I already divided the top part by another vertical piece in the middle).
So your frame will depend on the accessoires you want to incorporate (offcourse there are certain sizes or measurements to oblige to), you could go with way more bracelet-space and less necklace-space, its all depends on the specific needs of the one your building this for.
I knew I wanted to incorporate a couple of things; a ring-holder or pouch, earringspace using mesh wire, place for displaying studs and broches and a pouch for loose items.
Step 3: Studs, Broches and Pin-earrings
I decided on a nice thick leather patch for the studs and broches. Made a spacing-pattern on the back and with a hammer and a small nail, hammered through the leather leaving a small hole.
when turning it back around I realized my mom will never find those tiny dots of holes, so I grabbed a permanent marker and dotted every hole black.
As you can see I folded the top end over and sewed the ends together leaving enough room for a 6mm brass rod to pass through. So it can hang freely, displaying the items.
As you can see the rod from the studs and broches leather runs all the way through the other end as well. The other side can be used for hanging necklaces with closures (since the rod cannot be opened).
Another one of these rods is installed next to the ringpouch and under the other rod. I drilled the holes a little wider so you can slide the rod out to the right side in order to hang any items without a closing mechanism (seen in later pictures).
Step 4: Ringpouch
I had a hard time coming up with something for the ringholder I had in mind. Eventually I ended up in a pharmacy buying soft hair pin rollers…
I had to alter them just a little to make them look nice.
I took the inner iron wire out using a plier to open the loop and straighten one side out. Pull the wire out the other side.
I have a lot of brown faux leather left from a dog-gnarwled pooltable cloth. Thin and an acceptable color since I’m out of that nicer thick red leather.
I cut out strips of faux leather big enough to wrap around the hair rollers. Glue one side, set a roller in the glue, a line of glue on the other side and just roll the hair pin around, hold it steady for a couple seconds on the glueline for the glue to set.
I use the lid of a shoebox to stack 6 of the covered hair rollers tightly together, glueing the bottom of the rollers into the lid. Because the cardboard lid was showing a lot I decided to giftpaper-wrap the shoeboxlid.
The two planks, above and below, offer strength and stabilize the whole thing. I did end up putting in 2 braces in the back. A little testing showed it was easy to bend and push through without these!
Step 5: The Mirror
The backside of the mirror is completely covered in 5mm2 wire mesh. Stapled and hammered in (very gently!). This gives a lot of hanging storage for other kind or earrings, hairclips etc.
Hinges and attaching to frame;
I thought I was going to use a piano-hinge, but when I took a good look at the profile of the frame I realized that the hinge would only grip in the very edge of the mirror, since the screws supplied with the hinge are very small. This is a very small strip to hang this kind of heavy mirror on. I ended up using 4 cabinethinges with longer screws that pass futher into the frame (passed the narrow edge). First and third picture below shows the narrow edge I’m talking about.
To give the hinges a rest when the cabinet is closed I put in 2 small 6mm dowels with corresponding holes in the mirrorframe.
Step 6: Pouches
I ended up putting in 2 pouches for loose things or other items. The red pouch uses the wood from the frame as a backing, the brown pouch is the same faux leather I used for the ringpouch. I simply used a stapler to fasten this (having to drive in the last bit with a hammer occasionally).
Step 7: Small Items Trays
Because of the pouches I started thinking of all the small loose things we collect when talking jewelry and accessories. Think about; watchband shackles, necklace closures, beads and charms, nicnac’s etc. I, as a guy, already collect quite a few small, easy to lose, items (even if it’s the tiny screws found in glasses or the fancy, stone-inlayed buttons).
I quickly came up with the icecube tray idea. I cut one in half and had to trim a little of the sides. They ended up getting their own dedicated shelves.
I also made a little bin for some colored paperclips and s-rings on the inside of the mirror. These can be used to easily make a hanger for use in the mesh.
Step 8: Hanging Space
I’ve had a kitchentowel hanger in my closet for years and finally found a good use for it in this cabinet. It’ll serve perfect as a scarf and shawl hanger! All hidden screws in this hanger, so I’m happy!
Then some strategically placed hooks and clothes pins and most of all useable space is filled up!
Step 9: Finishing Up
a flower here, a butterfly there (to ‘cover up’ the clothespins,) suttle accents to fill up or cover up big empty spaces, markings, mistakes, screwheads etc.
Step 10: Alternatives and Tips
If I would build this again, there would be a couple changes (obviously!);
· Smaller size; My mirror is a very nice one, and it would have still be hanging in my bedroom if it wasn’t for a lack of creativity and time. But my mirror shouldn’t qualify for a project like this. Be smart and go a couple sizes smaller! Seriously half the size is big enough! A 40x40cm one would even fit nicely in a small bathroom.
· Start off with a design; I had to unscrew certain parts at least 10x… and actually still had to after stapling in a pouch already… (my electric drill was to long so the top vertical center support, and everything attached to it, had to come out several times!)
· Get different wood and stain to nice color; I started with hardwood flooring panels you put upright on the wall, covering the corners of your flooring (skirting board? Plinth?). Nice wood and all, but it doesn’t have squared edges and only one side has a nice coating to it. You should start with nice straight 1x3’s, pine or something light so staining and coloring is easy!
· Router edges; do after you put the framework together, that way rounded edges will look nice in the corners too. I could have done this, since it’s an afterwards-step, but dang mothersday was right in front of me already!
· Use a square; do it! Hold it in the corners when you predrill holes!
The diagonal supports will straighten out a crooked frame too (a little)!
· Use the same leather throughout; I ended up with two different kinds of leather and colors. I think they still look good together, but would have liked it if I had all red leather throughout.
· Use same color (brass) hinges, screws, etc. throughout; I tried… the cabinethinges I ended up with look a lot nicer as the intended shiny brass pianohinge (even if only visible from the inside).
· Have a second person at some points in the process; kinda obvious. Although I did it without, so also possible! I used the wall to jam an upright board, holding another board against it for pre-drilling most of my holes (seen in 'frame and support' pictures). Also laying the frame on the floor and supporting it with weightblocks to keep them upright.
· Have more time, I rushed it this time and it shows at places (read: everywhere!).
· Know in advance how much of, and what kind of jewelry my mother has; so you can more personalize the cabinet to her needs. Also giving you an easier job giving division and structure to this build; knowing what she has and needs to go in!
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