All is vanity…

I searched high and low for a bathroom vanity that fit my aesthetics, space and budget, but found nothing I liked at any price point. I refuse to settle (which is why, says Chris, I’m single), so I designed and built what I wanted (or it will be what I wanted, once I make the drawers and the top and sink are installed.)

But “designed” is perhaps too strong a term; really, I “combined, modified and re-purposed.” Chris Becksvoort fans might recognize the underlying plan for my asymmetric door and drawer layout from his “Cherry Work Counter” in “Shaker Inspiration” (page 110), and fans of Shaker furniture in general will see in the underlying structure a traditional “tailor’s counter”…with the tapered legs typical of many side tables.

Christian Becksvoort’s Cherry Work Counter.

I’d originally sketched out something closer to Chris’s piece (with his permission), with two banks of smaller drawers above a long bottom drawer…but then realized I had no suitable place for my (now rarely used) hairdryer and hidden plug, so I replaced two drawers with a 10″-wide cubby. And I’d planned on turned legs to match those on the Shaker-inspired stepback and coffee table I built for my living room. But I decided to make my life a little easier – I get along better with the bandsaw than the lathe.

I made the joinery a bit easier, too. Were this a freestanding piece of furniture, I’d have used solid wood for all the exterior bits and drawbored mortise and tenons. But it’s a bathroom cabinet that will be attached to the wall, so to keep costs (and time) down (a little) and to combat wood movement, I used cherry plywood for the side and back panels, and pre-finished maple ply for the interior dividers and bottom. (The door panels are solid cherry.) I used the Festool Domino for the carcase joinery, and pocket screws for the dividers, with all the pockets oriented so as not to show once the drawers are fit.

And, because all my nearby friends with trucks have stopped taking my calls, I cut all the joinery and dry-fit everything at the Lost Art Press shop (it’s nicer than my basement), then took it all home as a flat-pack and assembled it in the bathroom. Kind of like IKEA…but more difficult (no pictograms to guide me, and a cat to help).

There was just enough room to maneuver around the glue up.
I’m sure JJ thought he was helping.

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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20 Responses to All is vanity…

  1. texasbelliott says:

    Beautiful work, Fitz. It looks terrific. With JJ’s help, installation will be a breeze.

  2. Lory Henning says:

    It’s looking great!

  3. johncashman73 says:

    Great design and execution. Is the bottom on the cabinet side removable? It would make access to plumbing easily accessible, just in case.

    • fitz says:

      Thank you. Yep — the bottom on both sides is removable (and it’s much easier to remove on the sink side…just in case!)

  4. Peter Lakis says:

    holy mackerel that is BEAUTIFUL! I bet the cats will love making the open space below a bunkbed. Well done!!!

  5. thospenner says:

    That is some mighty fine vanity. In our house the cats inspect and test for feline comfort and containment, while the dogs assist by putting away all “unnecessary” tools and parts in their private shop for later consumption.

  6. Bill says:

    Never commented on your post before but this one is worthy ! Beautiful ,just awesome Fitz !
    You now have proven you were very worthy of your position before RETIREMENT! I’m enjoying mine also finishing up many projects !

    • fitz says:

      Well thank you…but I did build some wholly acceptable pieces before I became editor (IMHO) – it was just when I had to spend 80 percent of my time in management and meetings that I wasn’t able to build as much! (Still, it is grand to now have more time to spend in the shop.)

  7. Kerry doyle says:

    Don’t settle.

  8. Kyle Barton says:

    Nicely done!! I really dig the asymmetrical layout of the doors and drawers. One question, why the glue-up with the doors installed?

    • fitz says:

      Because they are tiny little slot screws that my smallest driver doesn’t quite fit, so they’re a PITA to take out and put back.

  9. Eric R says:

    Some of the nicest pieces I’ve built are pieces for necessary purposes that were made to fit in a certain space.
    THAT is one of the greatest rewards for being an accomplished craftsman.
    Your piece came out very nice indeed.

  10. Blzeebub says:

    Spot on, lady! Will only get better with age too. Can’t wait to see it done and put to use. Bravisimo!

  11. flyandgrain says:

    i would take your calls, and gladly help to move the cabinet. However, due to geographical limitations of being 1200 miles away-you can’t use my truck. I like the vanity, My parents did a similar vanity in their bedroom, but they were able to find the one they wanted.

  12. Peggy Schneider says:

    It looks great, Megan! I’m glad that JJ approves.

  13. Keith says:

    Beautiful work, Megan.

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