Movable parts? You better believe it!

Dremel 4000 blueprint - Hello Kitty cafe fridge door

The refrigerator’s two doors would be attached to rotating dowels. Made with Paper

When the Hello Kitty café was finished, Des did a very good job of hiding her disappointment at the fact that the refrigerator’s doors didn’t open. While this wasn’t high on my list of things to do for the café, or in general, somehow Sunday morning found me pondering how to make it happen.

In my original café blueprint, I had an idea for making a swing door for the kitchen’s entrance, but I suspected that in this case that solution would tend to keep the fridge doors permanently open – no good. I briefly considered using small brad nails as pivots but, upon remembering my one attempt to hammer those into 4mm-thick plywood, that idea was discarded as well. Then, quite by chance, my glance fell on the 10mm wooden dowel and a new plan was born: I would attach the fridge doors to dowels, which would be inserted into holes in the fridge’s roof and floor. This way, the whole door / dowel assembly could rotate, with the dowel acting as the axis.

Without thinking ahead, I placed the dowel holes right next to the fridge’s walls, and paid for it later.

Dremel 4000 blueprint - width of the cut

The cuts can make one part significantly smaller than the other. Made with Paper

Making this plan happen was not terribly challenging, though once again I had to deal with my less-than-perfect sawing etc. Note to self: Remember to take into account the width of the cut! For example, when planning to cut out two identical parts and measuring them out on plywood side-by-side, the cuts between them and on the outside will make one or both of them smaller than intended. (The figure on the left shows the worst case scenario.) I also desperately need a T-square: almost perpendicular is not good enough!

The usual assortment of tools and Dremel accessories was in use: jigsaw for longer straight cuts, fret saw for shorter and/or intricate cuts (without a large drill bit, I had to cut out the dowel holes), 408 and 432 sanding bands for shaping and 932 grinding stone for smoothing edges and corners. As before, I used small supporting triangles to keep the walls and floor / roof at 90° angles while gluing.

The fridge box was put together, the dowels cut to size, I was minutes away from the finish. Luckily, I had the foresight (better late than never, right?) to test the doors’ opening and closing before gluing them to the dowels. Have a look at the first picture: with the dowels placed right near the walls, there was nowhere for the door to fit when it was being opened – it hit the wall and stopped after rotating just a few degrees.. There was some cursing…

Solution #1: trim away some material from the dowels so that the doors fit into them rather than onto their surfaces. Good in theory, but in practice just too imprecise and messy. It started with what must have been the ugliest fret saw cut I’ve ever done and went downhill from there. Solution #2: remove ~1.5 cm from the fronts of the fridge’s walls so that the opening doors don’t hit them. With the fridge box already glued together, I had to resort to some very creative and very uncomfortable fret saw techniques, but in the end it worked.

When I look at the finished product, I sigh a little at the crookedness of some joints that, thankfully, isn’t very evident in the photo below. But I also smile at the memory of that forehead-slapping realization about opening doors needing somewhere to fit, and feel pretty confident that I won’t forget this lesson soon 🙂 .

Dremel 4000 - Hello Kitty cafe fridge

The fact that I had to remove portions of the side walls isn’t so bad since the dowels are there to keep this from looking like gaping holes. The central dowel keeps the doors from swinging inside the refrigerator. I’ll probably cut it, leaving only 1-2 cm at the top and bottom, to make accessing the fridge easier.


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