My Battle with Birch!!

With our recent move, we now have a guest bedroom with a bed but no dresser or drawer space for guests to use. The room is large enough for a small chest so rather than going to Home Goods, Mayfair, etc. as a woodworker I figured there’s always time for a project and this is the design I came up with.

My initial plan was to make it out of Ash but the price and selection at my local supply didn’t meet my needs. Their Ash had a very pronounced and vivid grain plus they won’t cut boards and what they had wasn’t suitable. You may remember my recent Danish cord entry bench project. It was made of Birch. I really liked the workability and the way it finished so decided this project would be Birch as well — not all Birches are created equal!

I purchased 8/4 and the main goal was to get 7″-8″ width so I could resaw and book match them yield panels around 16″ wide. My usual sequence is to plane a good edge, resaw, then run through the planer to get both pieces the same thickness. After establishing a good edge on both pieces with my old #7 Stanley corrugated plane they are glued up with Gorilla glue and panel clamped overnight. For some unknown reason every one of the panels cupped and if anyone who reads this has an idea why I would certainly appreciate your thoughts! This piece was designed based on my 15″ planer. What I do is plane the cup out of one side as good as I can, then rip the panel to where it just fits in the planer to smooth out the other face which will be finished off with hand planes. This cupping of the panels is what caused my battle with the Birch!

Every step of the project became a hassle due to that cupping. Reminded me of starting my carpenter apprenticeship after Nam; my first boss always stressed that if we screwed up on the foundation we’d be fighting it every step of the way and he was right. It’s been a long time since that I’ve made this many dovetails on a project (8 tails) so this became a personal challenge. That cup threw the layout off so things didn’t fit “right off the saw”! One thing that helped somewhat was clamping a caul to the panels when transferring tails to the pin board. I also used that when glueing the piece up. Since this is a personal piece for me I can accept the results, if it was for a client I’d have to start over. Here’s a collage of the process.

At this point the case is glued up and the divider has been installed to separate the drawers and door. Since this has turned into a project where I can challenge myself to do techniques I haven’t done before I may use a double bridle joint for the stand — heck, mortise and tenons are no challenge. I am also working on a Tabernacle Frame for Diane’s latest work, something I’ve wanted for quite some time. Anything to stay off the couch right?

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: https://www.etsy.com/shop/WoodworksbyJohn?ref=si_shop Contact me about your project -- always up for the challenge of unique work.
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4 Responses to My Battle with Birch!!

  1. Cool design. I’ve found it best to wait a few days after re-sawing so the moisture differences can equalize. I remember taking the cup out of a panel and having it cup back the other way when it had a chance to properly acclimate. A thing I experimented with during COVID was glueing up my carcasses from dimensioned pine that was straight from the lumber yard and kind of wet. Most of it cupped to some degree in the time it took me to get underway but I clamped them flat for dovetailing and tried to get any twisting pieces to oppose each other. Each of the cabinets stayed a lot squarer than I expected.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ….I say “during COVID” like it’s over. I meant during the first lockdown.

    Like

  3. Thanks, I’ll follow your advice as I resaw for the drawer fronts, stand, and maybe drawer sides too. Appreciate it — John

    Like

  4. Pingback: Guestroom Cabinet or The Battle of Birch is Over! | Woodworks by John

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