Posted in Projects

Sows Ear Silk Purse

A spur of the moment purchase without a game plan, a titch unusual for me. But something about the $20 cupboard said “take me home” so I did. Where it sat collecting dust and taking up space in the garage for just a little while.

Oh it’s ugly all right!

Until a while ago when it spoke to me again and said “it’s time”. So I measured and pondered and then ran my ideas by the real carpenter.

I think the project spoke to me because I wanted a challenge. I’ve blogged before about wanting to increase my carpentry skills. This seemed like the perfect project for it plus it then gave me the cupboard space up in the attic I had been missing.

It always starts with demo and seriously, if you’ve never ripped something apart for fun, go for it. Demo is just the best even if you are doing salvage. Then it was on to lots of scrapping, sanding, chemical stripper, scrapping and sanding. Oh and then more of the same. Just when you think you are done – nope. There’s one spot that looks like crap.

Oh and painting. How could I forget painting? It seems I always have a paint brush in my hand according to one neighbour. My skills also extend to being able to apply a nice stain and varathane coating. Not my favourite but hey they can’t all be the fun jobs can they?

Fancy New Skills

I reinforced my skills (I use that term loosely) on the compound mitre saw. My measuring still isn’t precise enough to be a finish carpenter though. I totally mastered a brand new tool – the biscuit jointer. Super cool and I even figured it out myself but alas I did not get a picture of myself using it.

That little hole gets the “biscuit” and it adjoins to the corresponding hole in the next board


It’s hard to believe but, after all this time, the biggest challenge on a project like this remains hammering in those little finishing nails. Ugh, over and over and over again, Ugh. Like why can’t we use a nail gun like they do on the fancy HGTV shows? Nope – gonna stay old school says the man reading over my shoulder.

First cut – smidge off. Second nail – through the back. The clamps are holding the first set of biscuits together.

A close second in the challenge category is patience. I just like want to be done and move along but the finishing work takes so much time. Alas when it is my project I can not just go off whilly nilly and leave someone else to finish it. So each day I set aside some time to work on the next aspect but man waiting for the glue to dry……. not my strong suit.

The hardware also turned out to be a long drawn out process that was a challenge. Not everything fit back properly, screws were missing or the wrong type, etc. etc. etc. etc. See the above paragraph for how I felt about this seemingly unending delay. Ready to move on but it’s not done…….but in all honestly I kind of walked away at this point and the engineer took over. Which I thought was ok because really I just wanted to learn the woodworking part or I could just be honest and say he is better at those finishing details than I am.

Bonus Points

The custom green from mixing random amounts of green and white together hit the garage floor. Nice and thick it sat on the newly swept floor. I went into overdrive and the doors got scraped, sanded and washed. On went the custom green paint to the inside of the doors and the insets of the fronts. Fortunately there was enough paint from the floor for coat one and enough left in the can for the remainder.

It does not look green in this photo but it is!

Second place bonus points for the inventive use of the egg carton as a stand for the kazillion little screws that needed to be spray painted. Of course I also spray painted the little latches and then they would not work and I had to strip them. So always think about function before aestethics I guess would be that take away lesson.

  • Demo Day

    Design Options


    Rebuild or repair


    Hardware/Touch up

It’s now been manhandled up to the attic, no easy feat. It may move over a bit and we are undecided on whether or not to add a little base at the bottom. Like the kind an old dresser would have. I was thinking of using the jigsaw but there is a brand new band saw that apparently the engineer is keen to use. Or perhaps it’s just good as is.

I’ve also taken the opportunity with this post to work on a few blogging skills. I hope that the time line shows up as it should but I’m not that hopeful! I’ve worked on headings and fonts and colours. The classic issue is that my phone doesn’t seem to support what the computer word Press does so who knows what you will see?



I have had a love of the written word for my entire life. It's no surprise that eventually I found a platform where I could write. It's random; sometimes funny, occasionally sad, maybe even at times from anger and I lean towards creative photography and hands on crafts. I have a few blogs that high light these interests.

19 thoughts on “Sows Ear Silk Purse

  1. Bernie, your ‘cool’ factor just jumped several notches in my eyes!! Wow – any carpentry skills impresses me, but ‘improving’ yours blows my mind. I have none. These DIY projects always sound good – theoretically – until the reality of the work involved sets in 😏

    For me, everything in-between the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures falls into the category of magic, which makes you a magician, not a carpenter πŸ˜‰ I LOVE the end result!! I remember a cabinet similar to this one in our basement when I was a child. It didn’t look even remotely as good as this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh gosh! Well we all have our skill sets. Mine is, HM, well rounded although I would say that quilting and wood working share a lot of similarities. I must admit I did walk away when it was time to sort out those darn latches and all those little screws! Thanks for the comment and if you go to our house blog you can see where I learnt a few of these skills.


      1. Interesting comment about quilting and woodworking. My mother used to say something similar. She was a seamstress and claimed that sewing and carpentry were basically the same principles with different tools and materials.
        She could wield a mean crowbar but my father drew the line at power tools 😏

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah I guess it was that era. Not a man around here that wouldn’t let me use the power tools. He declines to learn to sew but he’s got a mean eye for picking out fabrics and I totally trust his judgement on them.


  2. I love that you rescued this old cupboard and transformed it into something beautiful. I’m impressed with your craftsmanship and attention to detail. This turned out really well. Nicely done. This is giving me ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah thanks for the lovely compliment and for saying I inspired you. It’s a fun sort of project for sure. I know you usually blog about travel but for sure I’d read a post about a reclaimed treasurer!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is so impressive! I usually leave the woodworking to my husband (I assist and give my opinions generously). I love your nifty idea for painting the screw heads… I’ll try to remember that for future projects. Your finished cabinet is lovely and your fancy WP post looks great too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My other half is a really good finishing carpenter (it’s an engineer thing I think) and so often I leave stuff to him but I’ve really wanted to up my wood work skills. It was a good challenge. Thanks for the lovely compliment about it and the WP post — although my time line didn’t show up like how I envisioned it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Georgina for the comment and the compliment. Will help decrease the clutter I hope. I needed some more neat storage. Will be a while before you get to see it in place I guess.


  5. Always good to have a project. Sounds like me though. I leave it stew for a while and start when the mood hits and then can’t wait to be done. Sometimes I get finished so quickly, I wonder why it took so long to start. Great project Bernie. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

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