The last post on the Mechanical Cellarette found the top of the unit ready for final details. This is one of those projects where I have the artistic license to adjust the sizes a bit to utilize the available lumber. The 8/4 Bubinga was mail ordered from Woodworkers Source in Arizona. There was enough to make the top, legs, and supporting framework for the lift unit. I planned my cuts to have enough of that beautiful 8/4 stock to resaw into the panels needed for the sides and front of the unit. The remaining material is 4/4 Bubinga which I was able to source locally from Peterman Lumber. I’m glad that I was able to mill enough material for the panels from the 8/4 as the grain and figure in it is much more pronounced and showy than the material from Peterman.
There are always plusses and minuses when it comes to exotic lumber. With the plus of showy grain comes the minus of it being more difficult to work with. Wood that’s a bit easier to work, even if it’s the same species, usually doesn’t exhibit that wild and crazy grain! In this instance though I was happy the 4/4 material from Peterman was easier to work. These pieces were approximately 6″ wide so that determined the sizes of the frame for the Cellarette. After running all of the material through the planer to achieve a uniform thickness, pieces were cut to the approximate length needed, one edge planed smooth and square, then ripped on the table saw to the required widths.
These were then carefully laid out and labeled for the next step which was to cut the cope and stick joinery. Shown here are the two frames for the ends. The pieces you see clamped together are the seven panels ripped from the 8/4 stock that will fill those frames. Lots of chalk, arrows, tape, etc. to keep from getting confused and mistakenly shape the wrong edge or side of those pieces — no time to daydream!
Next step is setting up the shaper. I have an almost antique, Rockwell Shaper model 43-120. This has a 1/2″ spindle, 1 1/2 hp motor, and runs on 110 volts. Rated as light duty but has always done the job for me. A set of matched cutters from Freeborn work just fine but it is critical that everything is as square as possible. This starts with the miter gauge used for making the cope cuts. Shapers have a bad reputation with many woodworkers. Accidents on them are particularly bad because the cutters will just make mince meat out of any body part it comes in contact with!
The first step of the process is to cut the coped part of the joint, that is the end grain. Here’s a video I made to illustrate that:
After the pieces are all coped, this is what is referred to as the “stick” part of the joint. This cut is made with the grain of the wood:
The results are laying on the shop floor, the horizontal pieces are longer than needed as they will have tenons on the end to fit into legs. In the class I recently taught there was some reluctance and unfamiliarity with working with rulers and fractions. Oh boy, is this ever a skill needed for building furniture. Most of the calculations have to do with locating the center of the spaces that need to be filled with the panels. Then you need to add for the grooves, subtract for expansion, and go from there! Believe me, I will also cut scrap pieces before cutting the actual panel stock. There isn’t enough material left to make a mistake. Even if the wood was easy to obtain (which it isn’t) every board will finish differently. When making a piece that will only have natural oil finish on it you can’t dye or stain all of the pieces that have different coloration to look like one, unified piece. So, that saying “measure twice, cut once” is one I live by!
All of that made for a pretty long couple of days, especially since my eyes were dilated from a morning optometrist visit. The goal tomorrow is to begin the finish on the panels. They’ll need to have at least two coats of oil before glueing them up.
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