Saw this at one of my favorite stores that imports one of a kind looking oriental pieces of furniture. It said it was hand painted but my experience with woodworking and art made me a bit suspicious of that. I also LOVE the shabby chic beat-up look of it but don’t know if I can do that to something I have put hours into building. Probably not. Maybe just a little. This piece appeared to be made of particleboard but I figured I could probably use up some scrap maple-faced plywood and other odd lumber in my shop and pop out two of these.
The painting of the Koi first because that was the FUN part. I looked at pictures of bamboo but ended up settling on drawings of koi. No special reason; just liked it. The original cabinet also had a really rough texture under the “painting”. I don’t have a clue how they achieved it but years ago I ran across a special effect in which you coat surface with slightly watered-down white glue (like Elmer’s glue) and lay a piece of white tissue paper across it. Something weird happens and the tissue paper pulls itself up into ridges and fissures. Then you take a dry painting roller and roll across the surface to get it all adhered to the surface and squeeze out excess glue. Let this dry and then trim tissue paper. Make sure you prime the area before you start painting decorative designs because the tissue paper will soak up and sometimes bleed watered down paint. Now, the special effect does make it a little harder to paint on designs but after you paint and then antique it looks awesome. I used a white base, coated it with a brownish green glaze, and painted red edges. For the koi design I used plain old acrylics. For the antiquing I used watered down burnt sienna acrylic. You can even use acrylic extender to keep the acrylic from drying too fast so you can get all the antiquing wiped off that needs to come off.
The actual raw cabinet is a simple framed box with plywood set into a lip at top so that it makes a flat even top.
The sides are plywood set into frames.
The doors are frames with plywood set into fronts so they are a flat even surface to paint on.
I used pin hinges I found online at Rockler Woodworking and Hardware. (They call them Concealed Hinges.) They have the look of real oriental antiques, work the same as real wooden hinges on oriental antiques, are black so they pretty much disappear, and are so easy to install even a beginner woodworker can do it. They come in pairs since one goes at the top and one goes at the bottom of each door. I couldn’t find door handles like the originals but my experience with these is that they wear off the finish where the ring hits the door every time you use it so I settled on these black filigree knobs that I can pretend are oriental. I also added a magnetic closure to each door.
I added a piece of trim at the bottom of the front for decoration. The whole cabinet is painted flat black and around the doors I added multiple coats of a red glaze to frame the doors.
I cut out holes in the back, one for cords and one for air since these are media cabinets.
Eventually I even added wheels. Just BECAUSE everything needs to be on wheels and the design of this cabinet lends itself so well to having wheels.