The People in My Liquor Cabinet

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This article is from Issue 86 of Woodcraft Magazine.

A project’s connections can go way beyond its joinery.

By Paul Anthony

I was sitting in my dining room, Scotch in hand, gazing at the liquor cabinet I had recently completed. I designed it to replace a spindly kitchen side table that shuddered under the weight of whisky and wine bottles. I sized it for nice proportions that would suit the space, and divvied the storage into three sections. The center included a drawer and an open compartment for glasses and wine racks. That was flanked by two sections sized to accommodate wine and liquor. (Yep, that was me wandering around the liquor store with a tape rule, measuring booze bottles and raising eyebrows.)

As I sat there studying the cabinet, I realized that I was starting to see faces, and I wasn’t even lit yet. There was Andy and Candy, and Jean and Joe. I spied Pimo. And Ric. I realized that they were all intermingled with the figured cherry of this fine piece that was, in various ways, the progeny of all. 

My pal Andy, a consummate furniture maker, was the first to join the legacy. I had shared the initial drawings with him to get his take. He said, “Perfect, except the 3”-high splash would look better at about 5/8”. And damned if he wasn’t right. A short while later, Jean and Candy—artists and oenophiles both—convinced me that the center section should really be closed against dust. Okay, good point. Solid door in the center, flanked by glass doors. 

Finally ready to build, I drove to Pimo’s cabinet shop to get plywood for the interior case pieces. When I described the project, he said, “Man, I have some figured cherry you should see!” And sitting there just waiting for me was a flitch of amazing slabs—and just enough for the project. Sold! 

A few weeks later, Ric dropped by as I was about to start work on the doors. An artist and woodworker who’s always churning up aesthetic solutions, he said, “You know, it might make more sense to put the glass in the center door to display the wine racks and nice glasses. And you could hide the booze bottles behind bookmatched doors.” I didn’t have to consider that thunderclap of a good idea very long. Done. 

Finally finished with the cabinet, I was itching to put it to use, but needed help carrying it from the shop to the kitchen. My colleague Joe, passing through town, did the honors. As we temporarily rested it just inside the kitchen door, he said, “Wait a second, this piece is just too nice for in here. How about that spot over there in the dining room?” Sure enough, as we lowered it into place just around the corner, it was home. And so here it sits, full of memories and spirits. It seems only right to raise another glass to everyone involved. Cheers! A round on the house!

With a little help from my friends. What began as a drawing of a pretty nice cabinet evolved into a truly lovely and sensible piece thanks to some well-timed, astute input. 

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