So this is one of those moments you wait for to see the results of all of your work. So far there are 30+ hours into this project. I was very anxious to get the base assembled so that I could put it together and here it is! If you click on the pictures they will become full sized and you can see how the cabinet is pretty close to the cardboard mockup. Can’t wait to replace that high quality MDF sliding door with the Big Leaf Maple though.
To get to this point I needed to assemble the base. Essentially it’s all mortise and tenon joinery for connecting the sides to the front and then a glued/screwed support mortised into the back leg for the rear stretcher. As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I consider myself to be a hybrid woodworker. What I mean by that is machines are used to perform most of the grunt work and then hand tools do the final work. For example, tenons are first cut with the table saw. I begin by setting up a stop block on a sled to cut the shoulders. That is followed with a tenoning jig to cut them ever so slightly over-sized and then the using chisels, back saws, and a rabbet block plane to achieve that final fit.
After the joinery work was complete I turned my attention to the curve at the bottom. The first step was to lay out the design on a piece of graph paper and then transfer that to a piece of masonite. Once that was cut out it needed to be drawn onto the wood. By using a piece of green masking tape I was able to see the lines making it easier to cut on the bandsaw. The blade I used for this is 1/4″ wide with 6 tpi. Spokeshaves and a block plane were used to smooth the bandsaws cut.
It is very easy to get your parts mixed up, especially during the stress of glue up. Standard advice is always to do a dry fit with your clamps, cauls, etc. but I find it’s helpful to mark the pieces with a more permanent marking system than a pencil. I use a set of metal working alphabet stamps and mark corresponding pieces where they won’t show but are obvious during assembly. The strategy was to first assemble the two sides allowing them to dry overnight. Next the back stretcher was fitted while the front piece was clamped between the sides.
So, what’s next? I need to build the panel and frame section for the back, dovetail the drawers, create the sliding doors, and of course, finish the top. Before I start any other phase of this project I decided it would be wise to begin some of the finishing. If I wait until all of the work, finishing all of those parts will seem overwhelming to me. As much as I prefer my Danish Oil, hand rubbed finish I really want to preserve the natural coloration of this wood. The ribbon stripe grain is beautiful! The best choice for that will be using a super platinum or blonde shellac. With most of the cabinet being flat panels the technique to use will be padding on the finish. These pictures show my sample board with about 4 coats of shellac padded on. I’ve never attempted doing so much surface area at one time with shellac so this will add to the challenge of the piece! I get my shellac on line from a place called Shellac.Net and have always been pleased with their products and customer service. They’re located near Napa, California.
I taught a plane class today at Woodworker’s Emporium which showed me my smoothing plane needed to be sharpened. That’s now done so it’s on to the wood.