Curio Cabinet with lights


Pwalter5110
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I am still in the process of building a new TV stand, but I know that the next project is possibly a curio cabinet. I am a handy person, so I know that I could wire the lights, without fear of fire. What I am not sure of is how to hide the wires. 

 

Any suggestions on dealing with the lighting?

 

Also, There will be large pieces of glass for the fronts and sides. The last time I use glass, the trim that I pin nailed to the backside of the door to hold the glass looked pretty unprofessional. Any other tips of that aspect of the build?

 

I haven't started to even consider a design style, except that I want it to fit in with the TV stand I am building, so any tips would be greatly appreciated.

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For the lights, I would probably use low-voltage halogens, and route a shallow groove in the shelf bottom to hide the wire. Those type lights generally use 2 conductor 'zip cord'. Use brown or black wire to make it less noticeable.

For the glass, I have seen several ways to do it, none of which look better than a nicely fitted quarter round molding. Sorry I can't offer a better suggestion on that one.

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Any help is appreciated! I was thinking about making a false top and a false back to hide the wires. I plan on the shelves also being glass, so I think the only lights will be in the top. Possibly bottom shinning up? 

 

I planned on using those low voltage halogen lights. I'm just not sure how many to use. At first I was thinking that just 2 would work, but I really want it to be nice. My wife gets Swarvoski crystal figures from someone just about every Christmas but we have nowhere to put them where they stand out. 

 

How many lights do you think would really give the curio cabinet an amazing look?

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Actually need a little more info.

 

Will the cabinet have the light only in the top or on the middle shelves as well?

 

Do you want the lighting on its own switch?

 

I assume the cabinet will sit against a wall?

 

Low voltage is an option if you have room in the cabinet to hide the driver?

 

How thick are you planning to make the top and the shelves?

 

 

This isn't the first time one of these has been built so, there are solutions to your questions.  Pre-planning is the key to achieving the results you want.

 

Have you considered sketchup to help you design this?  Might point out a thing or 2 that you've over looked.

 

 

Good luck with the cabinet, I sincerely hope you'll post some build picks! 

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Tiods, I will plan it in sketch up. It was just things I was thinking of while planing down some cherry. I really don't have a plan, although I do have a look I want to achieve. Maybe sometime tomorrow I will sit and make a sketch up image. 

 

The shelves will be glass, so I don't see any way of lighting them. Unless I have lights on the back panel. But then I'm not sure how they would look. 

 

The cabinet will sit against the wall. I plan on having the electrical cord coming out of the bottom so that it isn't having from the top.

 

As far as the thickness of the top, I just plan on using 3/4 cherry. But I may make a false top to have space for electrical and whatnot.

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Tiods, I will plan it in sketch up. It was just things I was thinking of while planing down some cherry. I really don't have a plan, although I do have a look I want to achieve. Maybe sometime tomorrow I will sit and make a sketch up image. 

 

The shelves will be glass, so I don't see any way of lighting them. Unless I have lights on the back panel. But then I'm not sure how they would look. 

 

The cabinet will sit against the wall. I plan on having the electrical cord coming out of the bottom so that it isn't having from the top.

 

As far as the thickness of the top, I just plan on using 3/4 cherry. But I may make a false top to have space for electrical and whatnot.

 

I agree with Byrdie that I wouldn't want the lights coming from the bottom.  So, if the light is in the top, the question becomes how to get the cord down to where the plug should be.  

 

I would consider mounting the light in the top with the cord coming out the top.  A dado in the top and the back could house the cord. Or a double thickness top with a groove routed in it? Unless your plan calls for a thick vertical piece that you could laminate with a slot in it for the cord?

 

Another option would be battery puck lights but, that's a PITA!  Constantly changing batteries, reaching inside to turn the lights on etc.

 

Lots of options.  You should probably decide on what you want it to look like and where the boss wants the light(s) before trying to figure out how to run the electrical.

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CurioCabinetPic_zps0e8071b7.jpg

 

I started on the BASIC way I want it to look. Im not sure if I want a cabinet door, or 2 drawers on the bottom, but I know that I can never have enough storage space lol.

 

I will have a lot of room in the top to hide wires. I'm not sure if I should have 2 bigger lights, or 4 smaller lights. 

 

My dining room china cabinet has lights. It has 3 lights and looks pretty nice when lit up. It also has a switch that turns the lights on by touching the door hinge. I found a switch that I could buy to make this curio cabinet work the same. A pretty cool feature that looks easy enough to install. 

 

But while designing, I realized that I'm not sure how I am going to support the shelves. With the current design, the shelves would need notched around the "legs". I'm not sure if that will be easy or hard. Or if I should find another way to support them. I also don't know how to attach the glass to the sides. 

 

I will probably need to rabbet the inside corners of the legs, inset the glass, then trim around. But that approach seems like it will make it harder to attach the glass shelves. 

 

I am going to have to sleep on this... <_<

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I agree with Byrdie that I wouldn't want the lights coming from the bottom.  So, if the light is in the top, the question becomes how to get the cord down to where the plug should be.  

 

I would consider mounting the light in the top with the cord coming out the top.  A dado in the top and the back could house the cord. Or a double thickness top with a groove routed in it? Unless your plan calls for a thick vertical piece that you could laminate with a slot in it for the cord?

 

 

As the plan sits, the legs are 1 1/2" thick. I think I could possibly resaw a leg in half, dado down the middle and glue back together to hide the wires. That may actually be a great idea as long as it doesn't get in the way of joinery.

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A double layer top would probably be a good idea to get the electrical out of the top.  With the small verticals, the joinery could prove to be difficult if you try to run the electrical there.

 

Not sure on the glass.  Would certainly look awesome to notch and install those during assembly but, they'd be permanent at that point and not replaceable if one broke.  A rabbit in side panels with some trim should work well there.   

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The number of lights depends on how visible you are tolerant to them being and how much area you intend to light.  One thing I haven't caught is if you intend to put a mirror in the back but I wouldn't underestimate the effects of having one and how it can amplify a much smaller amount of light - and the less light you can get away with using means the less power supply you have to figure out how to hide.

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The number of lights depends on how visible you are tolerant to them being and how much area you intend to light.  One thing I haven't caught is if you intend to put a mirror in the back but I wouldn't underestimate the effects of having one and how it can amplify a much smaller amount of light - and the less light you can get away with using means the less power supply you have to figure out how to hide.

You know Byrdie, that is a great idea! I didn't think about having a mirror in the back!

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Small strip lights are a good idea. Since the back of the cabinet appears to be wood, not glass, you might consider a small cleat to act as support at the back of each shelf. Small LED strips could be added under each cleat to illuminate the objects below.

Another option is LED spotlights. I used some of these to highlight points of interest in a museum display case a while back. They are very small, yet bright enough to really show of your crystal pieces. Another pro is that they can use very small wire, I think 24 awg was what I used. There is a small power supply to hide in your cabinet somewhere, though.

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Not sure what design "style" you are going with but, I've done quite a few built ins in my day. Nine times out of ten I hardwired the built-in to a light switch in the room. (Yeah, it's a lot of work requiring crawling around in an attic with a wire chaser.) However, the point I'm making here is that very often the top molding on the piece hid the light cord just fine. If you have molding that sticks up it will hide the cord just fine, then run a channel down the back someplace and Bob's your Uncle.

Here’s an example of a couple of built-ins I did way back when for a family. These had lights in the top and the cord was simply hidden by the molding. – (Of course, later the family stuck fake plants up there and that REALLY hid the cords, but believe me you wouldn’t see them even before the plants.)

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Have you considered "Touch LED Lights " they're not the prityest lights but they do come in various shapes, sizes and colors, they also have strip and pencil versions. There is hardly any heat and the best part is no wires at all so the cabinet can be placed anywhere and you don't have to worry about a power source and the battery life is fairly decent. I usually recess them into the top of the unit so that only the lights are visible ..

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There's a build (was it a curio?) in the latest issue of Woodsmith magazine (Cabinet, Bookcases, and shelves?) that shows a way to do this, but I cannot verify which issue it is.  
Their website is a nightmare to navigate.
 
It lists where you can buy the illustrated low voltage light kit.  I was wondering how to do this as well which is why I perused the issue at the newsstand.  It still might be there which is why I'm mentioning it.  The problem is is that the issue?
 
I think a single pot light kit on top, hidden by a cornice would suffice.  These magazines don't go into detail regarding any kind of electrical work but basically you want to tap into an existing outlet.  Install a new receptacle in the wall at the top where you plan to place your cabinet.  Then plug in your low voltage transformer there.  It's very similiar to installing under cabinet kitchen lighting.        
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