Koa Bath Cabinet (Part 1 of 3) – Concept

Those who know us know our love for Hawaii.  While I had visited Hawaii a few times as a child, I never really truly appreciated the beauty of Koa (a species native and exclusive to the islands of Hawaii) until our honeymoon visit to Maui.  We ventured into Martin and MacArthur and I was blown away by the pieces they had in the store.  

Since then, I have always kept in the back of my mind to find something to make out of this beautiful wood.  

Our powder room doesn’t have any storage.  And since it has become a dedicated “Hawaii room” of our house decorated with  art and photos from our trips to Hawaii, I came up with the idea to build a storage cabinet.  Since it is our Hawaii Room, of course I knew it had to be made out of Koa.

I developed a concept that would fit in the powder room next to the sink.  Although not native to Hawaii, I wanted to incorporate a pineapple into the design since it has become quite synonymous to Hawaii.  I had never really attempted inlay before, so challenge accepted.

Originally I thought I could pull off having the pineapple show through from the front of the door to the back as the renderings show, but as I researched further, I quickly realized that would not be feasible.  For the body of the pineapple, I selected burled maple, since the rings of the burl, I felt, would mimic the look of the skin of the pineapple.  For the leaves, I picked up a few different samples of straight grain craft boards from Woodcraft, but finally settled on walnut.

The pineapple also had as part of its design, heavy outlines that I envisioned as being gold or brass.  I realized that would be tricky, so I investigated different techniques for using brass powder for metal inlay with either epoxy or CA glue.  I would ultimately have to test which technique would give me the results I was looking for (more on that later).

With the concept finalized, I moved on to acquiring the koa.  A while back, with the Wall Mirror concept, I came across a source for koa on ebay, A.M. Ranch.  I figured out the sizes I needed for the cabinet.  Since koa is relatively rare, it is pricey and the ability to find lumber in the sizes needed can be difficult.  So I located pieces that would allow me to resew the lumber and book match the wood for the panel sizes needed.

After some time, I was able to acquire the pieces needed and proceeding to resew, surface plane and joint the pieces into individual pieces for the panels needed.

Continued in Part 2 is the assembly of the cabinet body.