Joe’s Big Closet

This week’s project comes from Joe and boy is it a doozie! Let’s here from Joe himself:
For those who have not seen my closet that I built…here you go. Yet another reason to visit Szeremet Arms Estates. This took me around 6 months to complete and is made of Maple. Lots and lots of maple (Hardwood Maple). You will also notice I built in lighting into each cell with the help from my friend Blake. There are 9 brass bars and the tops are capped and rock solid for holding huge amounts of stuff in bins. All of the plies used were under A1. Good finish work and artful layout reduce the need for premium wood. In fact if you are not totally dedicated to the finish….never buy the best grade its a waste. I always buy wood that is warped or dinged knowing how I am going to use it allows me to help out the reseller and get a better price.


  1. This closet set is a beautiful doozie! And California Closets wants to charge HOW MUCH for particle board closet systems?

  2. runningwood July 25, 2008

    Beautiful job, its almost a shame that it eventually will be going to be filled and partially covered with clothes,

    Did you add a little cedar to keep the moths away ?

  3. The OTHER MikeD July 25, 2008

    Beautiful. Verging on ridiculous but in a GOOD way. Amen to the comment about California closets. Any suggestions on how to fit this into a space that’s 3 feet deep by 5 feet wide with bifold doors?

  4. Pretty impressive! After viewing the pics I had to laugh at the comment “I always buy wood that is warped or dinged…”

  5. Maaaaaaaaaarc can you build me one too ;)

  6. Joe R July 25, 2008

    Very nice. I love the fact that you choose to work with “imperfect” wood. It forces creativity, it’s economical, and with a good finish, you’re there. Great job!

  7. Shannon Huber July 26, 2008

    Joe, great work. I like the contrast in colors. Too bad it has to be filled with clothes. Nice craftsmanship. Keep up the good work

  8. Steve Racz July 26, 2008

    Kudos to the use of less than perfect wood and to the craftsmanship. Likely the builder is not the ultimate user…but come on, does someone really need a closet this big? Doesn’t anyone else think that this is just a bit on the excessive side? Do we really need to be using “Lots and lots of maple (Hardwood Maple)” to be “holding huge amounts of stuff in bins”.

    If we all built one of these then we will all be forced to be using less than perfect in a desert on a treeless planet.

    Excess at its finest…. and most shameful.

  9. Joe Szeremet July 26, 2008

    Well Steve, being a devout environmentalist I have pondered this over the years. In Central America, South East Asia, Africa and other far flung parts of the world, beautiful exotic hardwoods are cut, chipped out and used for cooking or heat energy. The fact is that fine wood workers in the US and Europe add billions of dollars in value to this wood that would not exist without our craftsmanship.

    In response to this market many countries of which Costa Rica comes to mind have vigorously gone about farming these exotic trees for both eco tourism and the hardwood trade. Honestly without our dollars these trees would be clear cut for pasture in most cases. I believe this to be true or otherwise I could not work with this wood.

    In response to the excess nature of the closet … I built it for my wife of 16 years as a labor of love. My latest project is for me … the garage workshop.

    Rgds – Joe

    • Frank Kovach January 27, 2010

      Well spoken.

    • Ron Ryan January 11, 2013

      Truly beautiful and inspiring work. Many things that are beautiful could be thought of as excessive I suppose. This I do not. I only hope that my wife will be as happy with the closet I am building as your wife must be with hers.

      If people want to complain about excess, go hang around a boat marina and see how often those high six figure resource intensive money pits move.

  10. Joe,
    I bet your wife loves her new closet. I’m a green nut, too. While I will probably always try to use substrates when the project allows, I think you’ve shown your respect for a dwindling resource. My partner at work and I deal with an environmental group that wouldn’t let a local dealer display a hybrid car because the dealership also sells Hummers. I’m afraid that kind of thinking will never help persuade the masses in our country. If you want to sell anything in volume, be it an idea or a product, you have to be inclusive. When you start drawing a line with this side as good and that side as bad, you alienate anyone near the line. I’m not going to show my wife your closet, because like Nicole, she’d say, “Viiiiiiic, can you build me one, too :D

  11. Craig July 26, 2008


    Thats very interesting about rare hardwood being used for energy and how craftsman actually add value to these hardwoods and thus save them from the chipper etc. Thanks for sharing that info!

    Great job on the closet!

  12. Steve Racz July 27, 2008

    Hi Joe,

    I totally acknowledge your craftsmanship and your conscious choice of the quality level of materials for this job, You’ve done a wonderful job. Clearly the love for your wife is undeniable. I have no idea what other woods besides maple you used in your project as there was no description of it so I can’t really comment on the sources of these timbers.

    My only point was that you’ve used a lot of resources to build a Hummer size of a closet, when clearly the world should be considering Volkswagen solutions and learning to live with less.

    However, since you brought up this notion that somehow consuming and adding value to quantities of wood in the developed world somehow benefits those in the undeveloped world, I just had to set you straight on this.

    I hardly think that the world’s forests are largely becoming undone by charcoal production or that somehow buying foreign sourced timbers ‘saves’ wood from otherwise ending up in a chipper. That’s not the biggest source of forest depletion.

    There is a website which covers nothing but the issues and extent of illegal logging:

    It has this to say about it in a nutshell:

    “Illegal logging and the international trade in illegally logged timber is a major problem for many timber-producing countries in the developing world. It causes environmental damage, costs governments billions of dollars in lost revenue, promotes corruption, undermines the rule of law and good governance and funds armed conflict. It retards sustainable development in some of the poorest countries of the world. Consumer countries contribute to these problems by importing timber and wood products without ensuring that they are legally sourced. In recent years, however, producer and consumer countries alike have paid increasing attention to illegal logging.”

    And, if you think this is only a foreign issue, Googling “illegal logging” will give you plenty of examples both foreign and domestic.

    So, given that you never really know where your lumber is from unless the source is verifiable, I hope you can see that even decisions made on the size of a project does directly influence what happens in this world, though not in the way that you might have thought.


  13. Tom July 27, 2008

    Nicole, I’m curious as to when Mark said he is going to build you a closet like this!

  14. Just a quick note on sustainable forest certification. There are currently over 50 different forest certification systems in the the world.
    Two of the most prevalent here in the U.S. are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and American Forest and Paper Association’s Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI). The European Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is being developed to create a way to compare all the different certification programs globally. There are also organizations that deal specifically with certifying engineered (man-made) products.
    I would definitely encourage everyone to give thought to the products they are going to use in a project, for that matter, where their tools and other products of normal living originate.
    Remember there are many shades of green and what one person is willing, or can afford to do, others may not.
    I try to always consider my impact and I still sometimes decide it’s not worth it to me, at this point, to go the “greenest” route. In the future, as price points change, some of those choices will change.

  15. Chris Cloutier July 27, 2008

    Awesome job. Keep up the good work!!!!

  16. Tom July 28, 2008

    Very impressive closet! I only have one question, has anyone heard of “Veneer” for a project of that many panels? I would not think that all those panels would be built with lots and lots of solid Maple, (Hardwood Maple). I’m not sure why one would use Hardwood Maple and not just Maple to build a closet, after all, there is a difference between Hard Maple and Maple.

  17. Doug Hadley September 11, 2008

    Joe, beautiful craftsmanship. Glad my wife didn’t see these pictures before I built hers. I stuck with stained birch ply and stained mdf. Turned out nice, but not like yours.

    Steve, how big should my closet be?

  18. Chris O October 15, 2010

    WoW Joe, do you do house calls in Boston???

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