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Torah Cabinet

I built this cabinet as a prop for Vacation Bible School at my church. The entire week was set during Jesus's time. Each day the kids went to see a rabbi, who would ceremoniously remove the Torah from this cabinet and read the scripture of the day to the kids. The rod at the the top of the cabinet is for a cloth curtain made by another volunteer to hide the Torah inside the cabinet.


The wood is hackberry harvested from my front yard. I did not apply a finish to make it match the scroll, which was given to me.

This is the first project in which I've used hackberry. We had a large tree removed from the front yard and I had it milled into 2" thick planks. It air dried for about nine months before making this project. The piece of wood I used for this cabinet was almost perfectly quartersawn. When I resawed it, the wood was incredibly stable; it didn't warp at all. Overall, it was a pleasure to work with.

The first picture on the right is the top of the cabinet. The bookmatched grain produced a nice pattern.

The back of the cabinet shows the outside of the boards which were drying outside. If the hackberry gets even a little wet, it grows mold as shown here, but you can easily cut those parts away. I liked the idea of having the outside of the board, including the mold, on the back of the cabinet as a reminder that the physical things in this world really are temporary. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have given somebody a piece of work with mold on it since everybody is paranoid about having mold in their houses now. Oh well.

To make construction fast and easy, I used butt joints with screws and then plugged the screw holes.

I made the plugs using a Veritas Tapered Snug-Plug Cutter in my drill press. The cutter burned badly as I used it, even at the lowest speed in my drill press, which is 650 RPM. Lee Valley's customer service later told me that the maximum speed for the cutter is 600 RPM in softwood and 350 RPM in hardwood. Hackberry is a hardwood. I had run it as high as 1100 RPM. They graciously send me a new one since I had burned the first one so badly that it lost its temper.

Overall, this was a fun, easy project.

Measured Drawing

If you would like to build one for yourself, e-mail me and I'll send you a measured drawing.