“With woodworking, you start with an end product in mind, and reason your way backward to the raw wood.” ~ Joshua Foer

This is a followup post, providing an overview of how I went about constructing an artist taboret for myself for under $200. See the original post here.

When I began, I had a number of ‘must have’ features in mind:

  • Needs to have casters and move easily around the studio
  • A large glass mixing area
  • A comfortable working height (32-34 inches)
  • Storage for tubes of paint, mediums, solvents, etc
  • Small removable palette tray
  • Storage for an air tight palette box
  • Cost less than $200

I cheated and started with an old, battered, mouse infested dresser that my parents had stored away for decades in a shed. There was a lot of mildew and water damage, the veneer was peeling off and the mice had chewed the edges of the drawers. I formally evicted the freeloading mice and hauled the musty old dresser back to the studio to study it for potential. After giving it a thorough cleaning, I took measurements and starting planning the rest of the project.

Moisture damage had pretty much ruined the lower half of the dresser. So I dismantled it and cut it down from five drawers to two. Additionally I cut the overall depth of the cabinet by two inches. At this point, it had become clear that I was really just using the dresser for its materials. Reusing what parts I could, I turned the top drawer into two half drawers and built all new interior shelves and rails. I then carefully removed some of the walnut veneer from the discarded pieces to use to repair damaged areas.

Old Dresser Reworked

The re-purposed dresser, reconstructed with new shelves and two half height drawers.

I had some old ¾” oak flooring on hand that I ripped and planed down to use for the stand. After I’d sized and glued up the wood I’d need, I used a hand saw to cut the tenons and chisels to make the mortises. I could easily have constructed the stand with screws alone, but I wanted a stronger piece of furniture that might take years of abuse.

Pieces for stand

Red oak, fit together with hand cut mortise and tenon. Ready for glue up.

After I’d assembled the stand, I screwed the casters on, cleaned up excess glue and fine sanded.

Stand - Ready for Finish

The stand, glued up, sanded and ready for finish.

I applied stain to the cabinet, followed by a satin finish polyurethane for the cabinet and stand. With the finish complete, I attached the cabinet to the stand with screws from the inside pointing out, so that no screws would be visible.

New, easier to grip oak pulls were attached. I cut and fit thin cabinet grade plywood for the lower tray and the back of the cabinet.

Assembled, Sanded, Stain and Polyurethane

Assembled, sanded and finished with stain & polyurethane.

Now I’m getting somewhere! I just need to make the pieces for the work surface. I used veneer salvaged from the discarded portions to cover the poplar strips. I drilled and inserted dowels to attach the pieces to the surface.

Planning The Work Surface

Planning the work surface.

I had the glass cut at a local glass shop. Pieces of canvas were cut to fit under the glass. Eventually, I may paint this a neutral gray, but for now I’ve left it white. The removable palette tray is simply a thin piece of aluminum, bent at the edges to fit into the wood handles. The canvas and glass are attached to this with light adhesives.

The handles and brush holders were made from walnut.

Glass Mixing Area and Palette

Glass mixing area and removable palette tray.

The remaining details such as drawer dividers and paint tube rests were pretty straightforward. They are made out of thin plywood and inserted with tension fit so they can be removed and changed as needed.

Drawer Dividers

Drawer dividers.

Paint Tube Rests

Paint tube rests.

Because I was able to use the old cabinet and wood that I already had, I only needed to purchase the casters, the glass, some thin plywood, stain and polyurethane. The total was approximately $150.

It’s not the most attractive piece of studio furniture, but it performs quite well. Further, it’s a huge improvement over the cheap plastic cart I’d been using.

Taboret View Two

My completed do-it-yourself artist taboret


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