My Second Armoire

When I’m asked how my commissions come about, I tend to say less than useful things like “Oh, I dunno, people just come across my work and it takes their fancy”.  The ‘coming across’ of this piece, the second and, very probably, last, armoire of my cabinetmaking career, illustrates the fairly ad hoc, arbitrary, flukey, multi-faceted,….ways in which these things might happen!

I bought a car on Ebay from a guy in Cumbernauld,  a very nice, low mileage, well cared-for classic 900 SAAB.  It transpired he’d only had it a few weeks and probably saw a way to turn it round quickly and make a few (hundred) quid – which was o.k. I’d still got a good sound car for not a lot of money.  Anyway I was contacted by a guy who was the son of the previous, long-term, owner. He had followed the auction on Ebay and was obviously interested to know if it had finished up in good hands. I invited him round to the workshop and hopefully was able to re-assure him on that score.

We got talking about my work and while looking at my portfolio one piece, an armoir in brown oak I had made 20 (?) years ago,  grabbed his attention as it seemed an adaption of it would meet a particular storage and display need in their household.  Of equal importance was that the piece should fulfill its function in an aesthetically satisfying manner. Critically, they had not been able to find anything through the normal furniture acquiring channels that met all their requirements – a bottom-line reason for commissioning a piece.

The predecessor had been in brown oak and the same timber appealed this time round (which led to its own set of problems sourcing the material, see the entry for the Charlotte Chapel lectern below).

Approximate dimensions are H=78″, W=34″ and D=20″.

It was one of my main jobs for 2008 and because of the Simon Scott stuff in fact ran over into Jan of 2009.  I have to thank the clients for their forbearance in that respect.


overview, bottom doors with fielded oak panels, top doors with beveled glass panels


framing and panelling of cabinet back exactly reflects that of the doors


detail of handles on top cabinet doors carved into stiles

Below is a picture of the previous armoire which I guess dates from about 1990

armoire 1990


One Response to “My Second Armoire”

  1. Derek Williamson Says:

    Happenstance, curiousity, some detective work and several dummy runs between the Gogar roundabout and the airport junction via Fort Goodwin, found me at Chris’s lair during May 2007. Having completed my research, discussions about ancient SAAB 900s were secondary – the armoire was just the feature required to lift an otherwise ordinary modern living room.

    It was, however, a further year before I returned to Gogar to finalise the details and deviations from the original – not least being that the upper doors be finished in bevelled glass in order to display a collection of Edinburgh Crystal. Another crucial feature is a 1″ diameter hole in the back to accommodate cabling for my Denon hi-fi; I hate visible stereo systems!

    Chris and Eddie (q.v.) delivered, with no little effort – it is very heavy, at the very end of January and boy, the wait was worth it. C’est Magnifique.

    Upon installation, I showed Chris my treasured collection of historical Edinburgh Tram books that were also destined for the armoire. I sensed a certain antipathy and coolness… dunno why…

    Many thanks, Chris

    Esther and Derek.

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