Wall Hung Cabinet Part II

If you’ve seen Part I hopefully you enjoyed it so this is the follow up from that blog. I’ll start with the drawers which feature half blind dovetails and the Douglas Fir for the drawer fronts. The back and sides are from some 1/4″ thick Beech and measure 3 1/2″ tall. Dovetails are tails first and the only “trick” I can share is that when I scribe the pocket I set the marking gauge to the thickness of a piece of MDF which is more or less 1/4″. For me this makes it easy to pare the final thickness of what I believe is referred to as the web. Traditional style of drawer with a plywood bottom.

The door is typical panel and frame construction using resawn Douglas Fir for the panels and a tongue and groove frame. Since I had 4 panels, decided to finish all of them and choose the best for the door. They sit in a 1/4″ x 3/8″ deep groove. As usual, the panels were finished with Osmo PolyX before assembly.

For the pulls on the door and drawer I did a separate blog that you can see here: https://woodworksbyjohn.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=7144&action=edit

Brusso Knife Hinges

This was one skill I wanted to hone and get more proficient in. If you look on the internet there are dozens of ways that claim to be the best so just like any other process I watched how Matt Kenney did it, watched folks on line, then practiced and came up with what worked best for me. From what I understand it’s the washer on the knife hinge that determines the reveal between the door and the frame. I discovered by accident that the blade of my old General No. 17 was the same thickness which made it easy to set the reveal! I see this tool on Ebay and I’ve had mine for years so it’d be wise to check the thickness of one if you have it. I also used my mortise marking gauge to lay out the size of the knife hinge.

The last step was making and installing the shiplap back. I used the vertical grain Fir horizontally and each piece is approximately 3/8″ x 2 1/2″ with a 3/8″ lap. They are spaced 1/8″ apart with one nail at the junction of each lap. The French cleat (also 3/8″ thick Fir) was nailed and glued to the shiplap so that it was slightly proud of the back. Adding a piece of the same thickness to the bottom of the back side hangs the unit slightly proud of the wall which makes it appear to float. As you can probably tell, I’m very happy with the way this project turned out. Appreciate any comments or questions you may have — John

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Wall Hung Cabinet Part I

Here is a photo of the wall hung cabinet in my entryway. If you recognize the inspiration for this piece from the work of Matt Kenney you’re right! His technique of using a painted liner in a box or cabinet intrigued me so when I saw that he offered a 6 week, online Zoom class I decided to take it and see what I could learn. The class included everything from design considerations, wood selection, and he showed his methods to make this piece. I’m really pleased with how it all came out so will share with you what was required to make a similar item. My cabinet is made from vertical grain Douglas Fir and Basswood for the liner and dividers. Overall measurements are 5 1/2″ deep by 28″ long and 18″ tall. I’ll write this blog with lots of pictures.


Vertical grain Douglas Fir has always been attractive to me, my earliest memory of it is in the mid-60’s as a teenager working in a local lumber yard where it was commonly used then for bullnosed stair tread material. It can be tough to work with since it tends to be “splintery” which I found out. After prepping the material primarily with a Stanley No.80 cabinet scraper it was time to cut the dovetails. Matt showed a technique using a special Forrest blade which cuts the dovetails and requires careful set up of your table saw. I prefer the quietness of hand work so always cut mine by hand. Within the last year of so I opened my wallet up for the Knew Concepts coping saw to cut the waste. After seeing so many others use it thought I’d give it a try. There is a learning curve and for me it works best if I deepen the scribed baseline with a chisel before using that saw. I also use my skew rabbet plane from Veritas to cut a shoulder on the tailboard like the old Stanley 140 trick. This helps to line things up when you transfer to the pin board and leaves a clean, inside corner.

Liner and Dividers

After the case was assembled the outside and front edge were finished with Osmo Polyx oil. The inside was left unfinished since the liner is glued and clamped to it. I used Basswood and painted it with a blend of Casein paint that I use on picture frames. Only the show side and front edge were painted which resulted in some cupping. That was a concern but by using a lot of parallel clamps to hold it down while the glue set seemed to work. The liner was sized to allow space for the 3/8″ thick shiplap plus a French cleat at the back and the front was set back about an eighth of an inch to create a shadow line. The dividers are 1/4″ Basswood and were assembled using a 3/16″ blind dado cut with a router. The method used was to measure the distance the bit cut from the base of the router. I then cut a piece of MDF to the distance of the dado from the bottom of the divider minus the space for the router. This way it was possible to ensure the distance was exactly the same on both sides. The cut starts at the back and stops about 1/2″ from the front. The tongues were cut using a skew rabbet plane after carefully sizing them to fit between the dados with a shooting board. The tongues were then trimmed and everything went together squarely.

That’s enough for this blog, I’ll do part two and explain the drawers and door construction.

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Small Details = Maximum Time

Here is the door and two drawers for the cabinet. It’s interesting how they don’t share the same coloration even though taken in the same spot with the same camera! In any case, the photo on the left is closer to the true coloration of this beautiful vertical grain Douglas Fir. To give you a sense of size, the door is approximately 10″ x 16″ and the drawers are 3 1/2″ tall by 5 1/2 and 9 1/4″ long. It’s real common for people to ask us “how long did that take” and quite honestly I’ve pretty much quit worrying about the time and am more concerned about trying to master the skills and the final result. When I taught junior high woodshop that was a goal — kids never realized the process behind the craft not to mention the math involved in a small detail like these pulls.

This project is for the Wall Hung Cabinet online class from Matt Kenney which is coming to fruition. The 6 week class ended up being a little bit longer due to some scheduling issues with Matt’s cameraman but all in all, it was a good experience that taught me things — that’s what it’s all about. You can see in the picture that the piece is almost complete and I’m only showing one, small portion of it — the pulls for the door and drawers. Although I like the way Matt does his handles with the small blocks, brass rod, and thread I wanted something different for my piece. Something that was light, streamlined, and minimalist and celebrated the vertical grain of the Douglas Fir. The piece I choose had some nice, tight end grain as you can see.

Like the title of this blog says; small details = maximum time! Not so simple, after selecting a piece of 3/8″ thick Douglas Fir with some nice, tight end grain it was ripped to 1 1/4″. After scribing 3/16″ all around one end the skew rabbet plane was used to cut a 1/16″ shoulder. This was carefully checked with a set up block to ensure a snug fit for the pull. Once satisfied with that the pull is cut to length. Lastly, a Dozuki saw is used to trim the tongue on the pull to fit the mortise.

Now it’s time to cut the mortise in the centers of the drawers and door. A plunge router with a 1/4″ bit was used for this step. The rounded corners created by the router bit were squared off with a chisel before the pull is glued and clamped in place. I usually like doing this mortise by hand but since the Douglas Fir tends to chip and splinter decided the router was a safer option. Many small steps that require attention to detail to complete.

I plan to write a complete blog about the construction of this cabinet and the class taught by Matt Kenney in the future. I think anyone who wants to learn some new techniques could benefit from the class.

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Sharpening Opinions Please

Chisel Sharpening Day

I know only too well how true the old saying: “ask 10 woodworkers the same question and you’ll get 12 different answers” but I’m going to take a chance and ask it anyway! I would really like to know opinions of others out there who, like me, probably spend the majority of the time working by yourself in your shop. As the picture shows, I recently sharpened my bench chisels, I use a 30° bevel which I’ve found holds a better edge when using hardwoods and exotics.

Question #1: Micro or secondary bevels — your thoughts. I’ve decided not to do the micro bevels. I never use a power grinder which leaves a hollow ground so micro bevels never get very long. Without a hollow ground that micro bevel can get quite long and then it takes some time re-establish the entire bevel. The sharpening session I had yesterday was quite lengthy since the micro bevels were half way up the edge! I could see that if you used a power grinder you could restore the entire grind quickly but hand work takes much longer. What are your thoughts???

Question #2: As you can see, I use DMT diamond stones and have them in coarse, fine, extra fine, and extra extra fine. The question, if you have them is this — do you use some type of lubricant with them or use them dry? I’ve done it both ways and it seems that even though using some water with a few drops of detergent lifts the swarf off the stone, it also makes a mess! It also seems that using the stone dry the cutting action is more aggressive and the swarf can be removed with a paper towel. Your thoughts???

Question #3: If you use them, how do you clean your DMT diamond stones? I use Bar Keepers Friend and a a grey scrubby.

Question #4: When sharpening chisels do you remove the burr from the back on each stone before going on to the next grit? To restore the edges I spent a lot of time on the coarse stone so I removed the burr from the back on it before going to the fine stone. Then didn’t remove it until after the final strokes on the extra extra fine — what do you do???

That’s enough questions and I’d appreciate some responses. One of the reasons for sharpening the chisels was to prepare for an online class I’m taking from Matt Kenney. It’s about making a small, wall hung cabinet. He has some construction methods I’d like to learn more about. I’m planning to use vertical grain Douglas Fir so wanted to see how it works with hand tools. These dovetails didn’t turn out too badly, the wood is pretty graining so starting the saw cuts requires concentration to stay on the scribed line. Pretty happy with these. To highlight the beautiful vertical grain I plan to use OSMO Polyx which I did on this corner. Anxious to get the first “hands on” lesson in the Matt Kenney class, so far it’s been about design and things to be aware of when selecting lumber. The wood I got is 4/4 and he’s mentioned we’ll probably surface to a thickness around 1/2 to 5/8 inch. Telling the grain direction is tricky with the Douglas Fir, used my smooth plane to surface the dovetails; worked well on one side but not so great on the other!

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Finally — Carving Chisel Holder

Ever since I started carving; having a safe place to lay the chisels I’m using on a project has been a problem. If it’s a picture frame I can lay them on other legs of the frame to keep them “corralled”. If it’s a relief carving I resort to laying a piece of wood on the side of the bench and pray they don’t roll off or get that dreaded metal to metal contact. They end up getting scattered and I waste time looking for the one I happen to need at the time. I carve on a 24″ long bench which is clamped to my 48″ long carving area so that doesn’t leave much room to lay the chisels down. After doing an internet search for some solution to this problem I found a blog by Bob Easton, someone I’ve had many online conversations with but never met in person. Here’s a LINK to it. By the way, he refers to a bench that you clamp onto another bench as a BOB!

I have to admit that I had some difficulties following his blog and pictures. I couldn’t figure out why the bottom shelf that the chisels sit on was angled at 45° and the more I looked at the pictures the more I became confused!! Decided to go ahead and treat this as a good, hand tool project exercise and figure things out as I went. I didn’t use an auger bit as he did, instead a forstner bit did the job. Teaching middle school woodshop for all the years I of course followed his advice and only drilled through one side until the point of the bit came through. The board was then flipped over on the drill press to complete the hole. Made some interesting discs, I also used a divider to set off the spacing for their centers. You can see the tape on the bench used to set the right size. I have room for 13 chisels.

Only two measurements were given; 8″ for the side pieces and 17+” for the pieces between. What I did was count how many chisels I was using for the current project, checked to see how much material I had and decided that 13 was a good number — I used dividers to step off their centers much like you do for laying out dovetails. Bob cut a series of stopped dados for this project so I followed suit. Didn’t have enough material for a full shelf so that too received a stop dado. My angle is about 35°. This was a good exercise in hand chiseled dados and my Stanley 271 router plane insured all of the bottoms were the same. Trick holding the wood for these routers but here’s how it was done, bench hook works to hold this small piece.

With the bottom shelf on my version not going the full width and a at different angle things were different but in a good way! During a dry fit the shelf was inserted into the stopped dados and then marked on the ends. Those lines were extended the length of the shelf and this gave me an opportunity to hand plane a chamfer. If you’re a hand tool woodworker you understand when I say this was fun! I used to teach my junior high school students how to use a block plane to cut chamfers and rounds and this reminded me of those times.

I followed Bob’s directions and used glue and screws for assembly. The rack also hangs on the wall with a French cleat. A coat of Danish Oil will keep it looking good! By the way; now that it’s complete I understand the function of that angled, bottom shelf. Gravity brings the tool down and it gets “wedged” between the top and bottom holes. It works equally for narrow or wide chisels and access is easy. Like Mick Jagger said after singing Like a Rolling Stone on the Stripped album — Thank you Bob!

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Floater Frame Technique

A very popular style of framing a painting these days is using what’s referred to as a “floater” frame. Traditionally used for thicker canvases but it’s also popular for any other size paintings. From what I’ve seen, commercially available molding is usually a simple L-shape slightly deeper than the thickness of the canvas that the art work sits in. As a furniture maker, the method I use is different and if you have some experience and tools you can use this method for your work so I’ll share it with you.

If the frame is to be painted or gilded I’ll use Basswood, some of my clients prefer hardwoods such as Oak, Mahogany, Walnut, etc. and the process is the same except I add splines across the mitered corners after mitering and joining them. These are for strength as well as an added design element. For this blog I’ll be using Basswood, usually 1″ or so thick.

Here is the general profile I use. This frame is for a 1 1/2″ thick canvas and is about 1″ thick and 2 1/4″ wide. The groove is cut first and is the thickness of the 1/4″ plywood used to support the painting. The top of the groove is 1 9/16″ from the top. You could use a dado head or router bit to cut this but in my experience it’s just as quick to set the height of your blade and then make 2 passes on the table saw. Since plywood thickness may vary it’s better to do it this way but do use some scrap to make trial cuts. Next step is to miter these pieces but before I do that I prefer to knock down that sharp edge by cutting a narrow 45° cut on those edges. Now you can miter them to fit the painting — don’t forget to add about 1/2″ to the canvas size which will give a 1/4″ reveal all around the art.

After the pieces are mitered my preference is to use face frame size biscuits in the corners. If you have a biscuit joiner it’s worth the extra step since the biscuits will stabilize the corners and prevent them from slipping during glue-up. The plywood not only supports the art work but also reinforces the corners! On two of the frame legs the plywood is full length so that it inserts into the adjoining leg, see the picture on the left. That will glue into the leg of that piece and give you a very strong joint. The other two legs have the plywood filled in between tightly which gives a square and strong frame. I always glue and clamp my frames overnight.

To mount the canvas I’ll drill an appropriate number of holes through the plywood with a 1/4″ bit. That hole is slightly oversized to allow some “wiggle room” to square the canvas with an even reveal all around. Use a #6 pan head sheet metal screw along with a #6 flat washer for attachment. I use 1/4″ MDF for spacers and predrill the holes in the canvas. You can use whatever method of finishing the frame you like, lately Japan black with some burnt umber mixed in has been my choice. Occasionally I’ll gild the front edge so I’ve added a short video of that in the next paragraph.

One additional step for when the edge of the frame is gilded, either water gilding or oil; is to create some sort of detail to separate the two elements. Without this, it can be a problem getting a clean edge. I’ve used a shop made scratch stock but now that I have a small plow plane (Veritas) from Lee Valley the technique has been refined. I also purchased the beading cutter set which is great too for creating my own profiles. Here’s a video I made of the process, usual disclaimer — I’m not a professional cinematographer!

Here’s a picture of how that process turned out. Notice the mounting holes for the art work. If you decide to use this method and run into something that you’d like to clarify feel free to contact me through my website.

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Danish Cord Hall Bench

This is about the fourth or fifth seat I’ve ever woven and I always get so involved with the process — love watching things come to life! In our new home we needed a bench for the entry hall where you could sit to take off or put on shoes. I’ll talk about making the frame later on and will focus on the process I used to weave the seat first. Traditionally, Danish cord seating uses L-shaped nails to hold the cording in place but in Fine Woodworking there was an article by David Johnson where he demonstrated a way to weave it without using the nails. That was the way that the warp (front to back weave) was created. It involved a number of different knots and splicing in new cord was an interesting process but on the long rails of this bench easy to accomplish.

For the weft (side to side weave) I ended up using a technique demonstrated by Ed Hammond on a YouTube video. I’ve always liked the look of that double side rail weave. Rather than using knots and splices he uses staples to secure the cord to the frame for the weft. I believe his warp is traditional with the nails. There would have been so many splices for this project I could see very quickly that it would become a hassle! With the warp you’re only using a single strand of the cord, for the weft you use a pair of cords. To keep splices to a minimum it’s best to use the longest piece you think you can handle, I began with about 90′ of cord so doubled up means I was weaving with 45′ at the beginning of the process. Here’s a picture essay of the process:

A neighbor asked how long this process took me, my standard reply to this common question is that I really don’t keep track of the time it takes. It’s really about the process and enjoyment I get from the results even when making custom pieces for others. The weaving process is challenging, I’ll admit to having to take out two different courses because I missed a warp and had the weft going either under two or over two rather than over/under/over/under etc. If you’re at all interested in weaving a chair seat I’d suggest you take it on!

The framework for the bench is from a piece of 8/4 Birch lumber purchased from Peterman Lumber here in Las Vegas. It was built using my usual method of first using the table saw to cut pieces to approximate size then hand planing to required sizes. I use a hollow chisel mortiser and then tenoning jig on table saw to cut the tenons. They’re left oversized so I can fine tune with a rabbet block plane. The curved and tapers on the legs are first bandsawn, and again; finalized with a low angle block plane. The glue I prefer is Old Brown Glue and the finish is OSMO Polyoil. Once again, here’s a picture essay to clarify the process:

Now that this project is complete it’s time to do concentrate on a number of picture frames for Diane’s upcoming show at Meyer Vogl Gallery.

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Simplified Method for Sliding Drawers

Granted, this isn’t the greatest of pictures but allow me to explain. While setting up my new shop space I realized I needed drawers so decided to make these. It’s a method I’ve used for a long time but many who have visited my shop have never seen it so I thought it’s time to share with other woodworkers. This is a unit I mounted into a metal cabinet from Home Depot. It’s made from a piece of 3/4″ particle board the builder had in the trash, 1/4″ MDF, and 1/2″ plywood. You can put a more attractive face on them but since these are strictly utilitarian the plywood will suffice. Dimensions were determined by the measurements inside the cabinet.

Particle board may not be the best choice but with the price of materials these days dumpster diving seems to be the right thing to do! My method is to always use some type of joinery, in this case a rabbet cut on the ends of each side and a full rabbet all around the back. Surely not a place for a rabbet plane so I used the tablesaw. First adjust the blade height to the thickness of the particle board. Then adjust the fence to cut a rabbet in a single pass while guiding it the piece upright against the fence. Using a rabbet helps register the pieces and ensure a square case. Before gluing and screwing these parts together a 1/4″ wide by about 3/8″ deep dado is cut to support the MDF shelf bottom. Cut both sides of the case at the same setting so they align. That’s also the “slide”. While the glue is drying it’s time to cut the pieces that will make up the drawer unit. I used some type of “sanded plywood” again from Home Depot and am amazed at the price of it!!!

The 1/4″ dado set used to cut the grooves in the sides is also used to cut the simple tongue and groove joint used for the drawers. Use some scrap pieces to set them up. The drawers were assembled with glue and 1″ long, #18 brads. Using a brad nailer and a speed square to establish square corners is helpful. While that’s drying cut the 1/4″ MDF to fit in the slots. Although it seems flimsy, once you’ve glued and brad nailed the drawer to it it is remarkable strong and stable! These drawers are about 16″ wide, 31″ long, and 5″ deep. Also attached a couple of dividers which makes them even more stable.

Final steps are to ease the corners of the MDF, I also use a beeswax to make them easy to open/close. Simple wooden knobs were added and the unit was bolted to the shelf — works great!

The right hand picture shows the unit bolted into the cabinet, the other was during assembly. If you have enough depth in your case this system can give you “full extension” slides. Simply make the MDF bottom deeper than the drawer box. Hope you find this helpful, fairly quick project that does require a bit of careful measuring. Feel free to ask me any questions — John

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New Year, New Home, and New Shop!

After living in Phoenix for the past 6 years or so Diane and I decided it was time to return to southern Nevada to be closer to family and take advantage of the rising housing market in Phoenix. Although we loved our house there; the 1/3 acre and huge amount of time and effort it took to maintain it was starting to get to us! There were some other factors as well but we began to look for other areas to move to including Tucson and outlying parts of Phoenix but in the long run decided to buy a new home in North Las Vegas. Moved in the first of December and are loving it!

The biggest difference is that now, instead of having an existing “shop” that needs a ton of work to turn it into my “happy place” I now have a blank slate in the form of a 2 car garage! The process began with a scaled drawing but now that I’m here I can visualize the space and eventual results. Our plan was to remove a wall between a bedroom and the den to create an art studio for Diane. As luck would have it, this wall is a bearing wall. We were extremely blessed to have the superintendent of this development help us with this project. He introduced us to some of the original workers who built our house and they were willing to work with us in their off-time on our remodel. Electrician, framers, and drywall is what we needed and they worked efficiently and for a good price! I removed the drywall first, then the electrician changed and re-routed some wiring that was in the wall. Next up were the framers and drywall. Diane and I did the painting and laid a beautiful vinyl plank floor. We’ve ordered a set of French doors with rain glass to close it off. As we speak, Diane is able to work in her new space — a sheet stapled across the main entrance keeps Khali out and off of Diane’s palette!

My shop is another matter but much progress has been made this past month. The unbelievable blessings have continued with this move! When we did our walk-through the superintendent told us an error was made with the kitchen cabinets. The uppers were supposed to be 42″ but 36″ ones were mistakenly installed. Our first thought was that we’d get some kind of refund but he told us that the 42″ ones have already been ordered and to compensate for our “inconvenience” he would install some of the 36″ cabinets in the laundry room and put the rest where ever wanted in the garage, now there’s an “inconvenience” that’s easy to live with!!

In the garage I’ve added a 220v/20a circuit for the big tools and another dedicated 110v/20a circuit for bench tools. Lighting needs to be improved and until the cabinets are installed I’m working out of boxes. With the work on the studio there hasn’t been a lot of time to work out there anyway. Here’s a few pictures of what’s been going on. The workbench is in position and my planes, measuring tools, and others I like to have on hand are in place. Along the back wall I’ve attached ledger strips that serve two purposes; first off they locate and add support to the bottom of the cabinets and will also be used to hang jigs and other tools.

It’s a work in progress but progress is definitely being made!

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Trestle Frame #215

I’m sure I’m not the only one that is inspired by seeing work that others have done. My wife recently completed a painting; At the Station which had a woman sitting on a chair. The chair reminded me of an architectural detail often found in a trestle. Then, I saw this frame in a pizza parlor and it inspired me to refine it. As you can see in the picture I took, it is a barnwood type of frame obviously stapled together which isn’t my style! What attracted me was the diagonal piece place at the corners; it just adds an interesting element which mimicked the chair the subject of the painting is sitting on.

The frame is made of Roasted Oak and is my typical construction. The panel and outer cap are tongue and groove. First step is to miter, biscuit, and glue the panel section. The cap is then mitered and glued and clamped to the panel. I’m old school and keep things clamped over-night. The following day the pieces were milled to put in the corners. To my eye, the inspiration frame looked crude so my goal was to refine that. Rather than just staple that piece into the corner my choice was to inset it across the cap, this way it added a detail on the side of the frame too.

The first step was where to position the angled piece on the corners. Rather than just staple it in (like the inspiration frame) I thought it would better if it was inset into the frame and the end grain would add some interest to the sides of frame. The process was similar to cutting a hinge mortise; locate and cut one side then slide the piece in position to just cover the kerf and mark the other side. I use an old Stanley #271 router plane to not only smooth the bottom but also to mark the depth of the cut. Had to be careful with the chisels since this Oak is pretty grainy and the process used to “roast” it leaves the wood very dry and brittle.

The frame was finished with Osmo Polyx which gives a very nice, deep black color and still allows the wood grain to show. Two coats, wet sanded in followed by a coat of Liberon Black Bison Wax and the frame is ready for the painting. Here’s are the final results, the painting measures 20″ square and is oil on panel:

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