A few months back I wrote about this puzzling mechanics cabinet in Only the second one of these I’ve ever seen…:

A cabinet that used to live somewhere else.

A cabinet that used to live somewhere else.

This cabinet has been creeping around in the back of my mind since I first saw it. I visited the nearby antiques mall over the weekend and it was still there. After staring at it for a while, I decided it was a project I wanted to build. I figured out most of the construction details. I invited my friend Ed to a free lunch and another visit to the mall. During the final examination before leaving, we believed we figured out most things until a person named Tim wandered over and changed our notions and the home of the cabinet.

Our understanding of how the cabinet worked was that in each row, there was one drawer and 7 siding doors. (Two drawers were missing.) To access the contents of the cabinet, you slide in the drawer on the far left of the row you desired and then slide the doors over until you access the compartment you need. The drawer pushes into the cabinet (or pulls all the way out) to allow a door to slide over it. The door slides to the left, then the next door can slide left until you slide all seven doors one compartment to the left.

Then Tim came and set us straight. He looked around for a bit and came up with one of the two missing doors. (One is really missing.) We were partly right. There is only one drawer and it is in the upper left position, top row. The doors in the second and third rows are designed to slide up and out of the way.

The sole drawer can slide out.

The sole drawer can slide out.

Or be pushed in to allow doors to slide past.

Or be pushed in to allow doors to slide past.

To access the top row, push in the drawer and slide doors to the left.

Second row, push in the drawer, slide the left-most door in that row up and slide the doors in the second row to the left.

Third row, drawer in, left-most doors in the second and third row up one position and slide doors in the third row to the left.

Why this configuration? Two quick reasons I can come up with. First is that there are 23 drawers you don’t have to make. You only need one drawer for 24 compartments.

Second reason is only needing one lock to secure the cabinet. Locking the one drawer secures all compartments. The flaw in the is that the left side of the case was broken off allowing unfettered access to the second and third rows.

A third minor reason is that it a clever design and people tend to be drawn to clever designs. Even if not necessarily practical.

Turns out Tim is more than just a clever fellow. He is also the owner of the mall and a dealer.  He did something unforgivable, he lowered the price.

The value of a thing is highly subjective. $500 might be a fair price for a chest but it is much more than I am willing to pay. The value to me of anything is what I am willing to pay today. $295 was much more than I was willing to pay for this cabinet. At $125 it was less clear. More than I wanted to spend that morning but not so much that I can just walk away. I wanted to build one. It is easier if I can go look rather than decipher my notes or drive back to the mall to check a detail.

I waited until Ed left and bought it. Easier to take apart if you own it.

Case is held together with sliding half dovetails:

Detail showing sliding half dovetails and rabbet for the back boards.

Detail showing sliding half dovetails and rabbet for the back boards.

The rest of the carcass is typical dado and divider construction:

Nothing out of the ordinary here.

Nothing out of the ordinary here.

Tongue and groove backboards. One per column.

Tongue and groove backboards. One per column.

Half round molding covering the seams.

Here are profiles of the door, One of the two vertical doors on the left and one of the 21 horizontal doors on the right.

Doors ride in various grooves.

Doors ride in various grooves.

Finally, this is a factory made piece and if any of my tens of readers can recognize this logo, we can figure out which factory.

Anyone recognize this Chicago area logo? If so, please share.

Anyone recognize this Chicago area logo? If so, please share.