John’s Armoire — First Cuts

John's Armoire Plan

John’s Armoire Plan

With apologies to Rod Stewart and Cat Stevens who wrote the song — The First Cut is the Deepest but in a woodworkers point of view, the first cuts are the hardest!  As you know, I just bought quite a lot of 8/4 Genuine Mahogany for this personal project.   If you read the previous post about this it is inspired by Dr. White’s Chest, a popular item in the Thos Moser line of furniture.  If you’re familiar with that piece you’ll notice I’ve thrown in my own design twists and am now faced with the challenge of bringing this from my mind and paper to a three dimensional, piece of furniture.  I haven’t come across anything like this in my research so either the techniques I’m thinking of using to create this  are revolutionary or have been tried before unsuccessfully!  The main area of concern is the small, three tiered drawer section in the middle of the piece.  The joinery there is tricky as is the area below the door separating the larger, bottom drawers from the rest of the piece.  On paper things are looking doable so I’m proceeding cautiously and really thinking through the entire project of this piece.

The first step was to double check the cutting list I used when I selected the lumber at Woodworkers Source in Phoenix.  Good thing too because an error was made in my thinking there when I found this beautiful piece that was more than 15″ wide.  Initially I thought this could be resawn into three 5/8″ thick pieces for the panels.  Driving home I realized that my bandsaw has a capacity of 12″ so there went that thought!  After much head scratching I finally came up with a process to use that piece to it’s best advantage.  Matching the grain pattern for the side panels will be a challenge since each 8/4 piece will be resawn into three pieces.  This makes the book match interesting and hopefully I’ll be able to come up with a good match.  The door panels will come from a single board and book matched the traditional way.  Can’t wait to see these since this particular piece of Mahogany has some birds eye figuration to it — haven’t seen that before!

At The Bandsaw

At The Bandsaw

The work started with planing a square edge and then re-sawing the pieces as needed.  The blade used is a 1/2″ Wood Slicer from Highland Woodworking.  Although you can’t see it in this picture there is an auxiliary fence made out of a piece of MDF attached to the stock fence of the bandsaw.  I’ve found that once you adjust the stock fence for drift it works well, why pay a ton of money for an aftermarket one when this can be adjusted to suit your needs?  Here’s where working in a “hybrid” manner is an advantage.  After squaring an edge with a #7 Jointer Plane each of the 8/4 pieces were run through the bandsaw.

First slice for the end panels

First slice for the end panels

For the side panels this piece was about 5/8″ thick, the remaining piece was then run through the planer to smooth out that face.  Now that piece was once again resawn to yield the 3 pieces.  These will be stickered to stabilize the wood and (fingers crossed!) not too much warping, twisting, or other nasty changes will take place in them.  The plan is to see what type of changes do take place and then flatten them as needed with hand planes.  The panels will end up being about 17″ wide which is too wide for my planer so all leveling will be done by hand for the side panels of the armoire.  The door panels are about 13″ wide so these were resawn and book matched from one, 6 1/2″ wide piece.

Stepping off the Width

Stepping off the Width

The thickness of the 8/4 stock is 1 13/16″ so I’d like to yield around 1 5/8″ for the posts.  The first part of this process was using dividers to step off the width of these parts.  After ripping these pieces down they too were stickered to let nature take it’s course.  The project will need 2 posts at 6’at the right side, 2 more at about 4′ for the center and then the other end needs 2 at about 5′.   The other materials that were cut to rough dimensions were the drawer dividers.  You may notice in the drawing that they increase in thickness as they go from top to bottom.  I’ve planned them out as 7/8″ for the upper drawers then 1 1/8″ for the middle and 1 5/8″ for the bottom.

As with any new work there will be challenges and no doubt some unforeseen problems as this piece takes place.  That’s what makes things interesting and challenging — why do the same thing all of the time; I prefer the risk and excitement of the unknown!  Diane was said that when she works on a painting she will work until she runs into a problem, overcome that one and then work to the next problem.  Of course, it’s much easier to remove and change paint then it is to stretch a board because you cut it too short but that’s okay, it’s her philosophy I like.  At the end of the day, this is what the shop looked like with all of the materials for the panels and frame resawn, stickered, and ready for the next steps.



About woodworksbyjohn

I'm a retired woodshop teacher. I build one of a kind furniture pieces and custom picture frames. You can see some of my currently available work, boxes, carvings through my Etsy store: Contact me about your project -- always up for the challenge of unique work.
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6 Responses to John’s Armoire — First Cuts

  1. ROBERT R LINDH says:

    BIG PROJECT,I’am sure it will go well for you and will turn out great.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lupe says:

    That is going to be an amazing looking cabinet, John! Actually, I had a similar project in mind for the upcoming year. Because our living room is “oriental” in decor, I was thinking of making a Japanese style kaidan dansu cabinet. If you Google these cabinets, they are quite elegant, and they have a “step-like design”. Storage is a premium in Japan because of their small living spaces, and designs like these are quite practical.

    I look forward to seeing the progress on your project, and eventually the finished product. I am sure I will learn vicariously and might be able to get tips from your expertise in cabinet making. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lupe, I too appreciate the Japanese style cabinets, I remember learning that the reason their Tansu chests have handles is because house fires were so common and they used them to quickly get their stuff out in case of one. Lots of hand joinery on the Armoire — stay tuned!


  3. bobeaston says:

    That’s a VERY interesting design John!
    I’m not a furniture builder, but I do appreciate the artistic treatment of what looks to be a very practical armoire. I’m already sorting the sock drawer. 🙂

    It would have also been fun to hand resaw the 15 inch boards to retain their width. (justifies a few more chocolate bars with chocolate powered woodworking.)

    This will be another beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought you may feel that way about the bandsaw! As it turns out though I need the side panels to be closer to 17″ so a glue up is in order. I had some concern too about the possibility of them splitting but that’s the beauty of wood, you just can’t know what it will want to do.


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