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Carved Cabinet Details

In my work as an architect most of my work is remodeling office buildings of one sort or another, and  it seems that every project has to be detailed to the nth degree well before the project leaves the door with too much worry about budget.  The joy of doing my own work is that I can leave parts of the project unfinished until I can devote my full attention to them, and add any detail I either think I like aesthetically, or I just want to try and do at that time.  I am at that point now with out kitchen that I've designed and (mostly - still some left to do) built in our house.

The Design.

Here is what was needed - something to cover these studs in the middle of the island:

I couldn't get rid of them, unless I wanted to rewire half of the house, and besides - they gave me some structure to hang the cabinets on.  I figured early on that I would have some sort of columns here, and everything went through my mind from lattice work, to copper work, to closing it off completely.

Whatever I used here would have to be wide enough for a pair of switches on one side of one of the columns.  I suppose I could have gotten  a stacked switch, but as one was a three way switch, it would have to be ordered - and cost about $25 plus shipping.  Ouch - too much, so I decided to just go wider.
Having been using the island, we knew we didn't want to isolate the kitchen from the living room - it was nice to have it open.  It was a bit too open, though and a simple set of columns became the design of choice, blocking just enough of the kitchen to divide the space up, but not close it off.  Something simple and easy to clean was important, also, and simple column covers fit the bill nicely.  However - as wide as the column needed to be, it would look bland without some sort of detail to it to break it up a little bit.
This was also an opportunity to jazz up the cabinets a bit with a more personal touch.  I've been experimenting lately with carving - I haven't done much of it, but always wanted to, so went ahead and bought a half dozen Ashley Iles carving chisels.  Along with some flat chisels,  the three I used on this project was a 3/4" #3 fishtail gouge, a 1/2" #3 straight gouge, and a 1/2" #5 fishtail gouge.  

The patterns are classic celtic knotwork patterns.  One idea is taken from a photo in a  Richard Butz carving book, the other is from a celtic font shareware package downloaded off of the internet.  Both were adopted in size, style, and width to fit the design needs of this project.

Here is the patterns I worked up:

I wanted a 3 dimensional effect to the carvings, and wanted to keep the main part of the wood at about 5/8".  I thought I might combine using a router and a table saw to remove the waste around the carvings, and route a stopped groove for some walnut strips on each side.  It still seemed a bit lacking somehow - so I added some contrasting wood plugs to the raised portions, and it seemed to flesh out a bit nicer.

Here's a sneak peek at one of the finished covers.