No doubt you’ve heard that adage that warns us to be careful what we wish for? Well my work had hit a low spot, probably due to the holidays, so I decided it was time to begin work on the John’s Armoire project I’ve had a few blogs about.
After drawing the plans up and driving to Woodworkers Source in Arizona work began on this project. Work that is designed to stretch my abilities which is something I always want. If you’ve been following the blog you know the progress that I’ve made. Towards the end of December I accepted two other commissions, both of which are fairly large so the shop would be pretty crowded if I attempted to work on all of them at the same time. Luckily, they need parts that are outsourced so I should be able to space the work out — self discipline will be required.
One of these projects is a media stand that will feature a top and drawer section made of reclaimed fence boards. I just received the metal legs for them this evening so now it’s time to start work on this project. I will blog it as work progresses. The other project is for sideboard with a hidden liquor compartment. It will be made of Bubinga which I ordered from Woodworkers Source in Arizona. The shipping shows it should arrive by the end of the week but the heart of this project is an appliance lift manufactured by Auton. It’s been ordered and should be here in about 2 more weeks. So that leaves me with a day to finish up what I can on the Armoire until it needs to be put aside for my paying customers.
I chose to make this a final day to work on the Armoire. You may recall that it is made of Genuine Mahogany and I purchased all 8/4 material so I could resaw and build up the panels. These panels are about 3/8″ thick and since they’re 16+ inches wide will require flattening with the use of hand planes only. That’s okay with me because incorporating hand planed surfaces is a feature of my furniture. You know too, that I’ve recently experimented with adding video’s to this blog. Thought this might be a good time to see how that works out so please, let me know your thoughts.
After setting up the camera on a tripod, the first panel I’ll attempt is the one that goes on the middle section. It only measures 9 7/16″ x 16 1/4″ so is a good candidate for my first attempt at working this Genuine Mahogany. These are only 3/8″ in thickness so flattening may be the wrong word to use, they’ll probably always have a bit of curvature to them but since they fit into a 1/4″ wide by 5/16″ deep dado they should be fine.
My glue of choice for laminating up panels is Gorilla Glue, I’ve never had a failure and I like the fact that it will not show a glue line when the panel is finished. Also, the squeeze out from the polyurethane glue scraps right off without any problem. After surfacing the boards to a uniform thickness they were glued up and the process began. Here I’m using my Lie-Nielsen #5 Jack Plane to begin the process. The corners are radiused slightly to reduce any tendency for the corners of the blade to dig into the wood. Something I enjoy as a woodworker is the sound of the plane as it takes whisper thin shavings off of the wood:
For some reason, the center of the panel where the glue line is was a bit lower. I placed a thin shim below the center of the panel to raise and support it. Then, took a deeper cut with the plane, became a bit aggressive which got the job done as you can see here:
After smoothing out the aggressive cut, slightly deeper cut to level the glue line the final smoothing was done with a #5 Bronze smoother, again from Lie-Nielsen. I’ll make no apologies, I’m a huge fan of theirs and shamefully promote their tools to my students. That being said though I encourage them to work their way up to a quality tool, I think you can learn a lot of technique honing your skills with lesser quality tools. Then when your skill level and love for the craft warrant it it’s time to buy the very best. This is the final video:
Of course, now I had to do a trial fit to see how the panel looks after rabbeting the back of it to fit into the groove. As I suspected, there is a “wave” to the panel but it’s easy enough to fit into the groove. I’ll cut a slight chamfer on the tongue part of the panel to make glue up as stress free as possible. Refer to the plan at the beginning of this blog, this is the center section of the Armoire. You may notice the mortises at the bottom of this picture for the drawer stretchers. The top of the small drawers fits into the bottom of the stretcher in this photo. Can’t hardly wait to begin assembly and oiling of this piece but paying customers always come first!