The cabinet will have two, side-by-side doors enclosing three shelves. Generally we make the stiles long with rails connecting to the stiles. On occasion I’ll make the rails long for grain presentation benefit. This build is asymmetrical to the max. Grain orientation was a factor. As was material availability. An added feature/challenge is the center stiles protruding below the case (with shaping to follow).
Rather than panels of wood, I will use glass in the openings. To-date I’ve only made one other case using glass. Time to grow.
To allow it all to come together, the lower outside joint is a sliding dovetail. A later post will show this in more detail. The design also made sequencing of glue up important.
Before all that, I was able to enjoy one of the most fun parts of any project for me: selecting material for each element. One board supplied the short rails. Those were rough cut on the band saw to follow the general grain direction. A longer board was selected to supply the long stiles.
The rail material had a number of cracks which I stabilized with epoxy. Mortises were cut with router. I used a jig and bushing guide for the rails because they were so short. For the long stiles I used the Moxon vise as a wide base for routing mortises.
Despite being careful (I thought) to align my layouts, I later discovered discrepancies which messed up the fit and squareness. I had to one-by-one tweak the joinery. Each adjustment of course created mis-alignments in the other joints. Eventually, the doors came together. More on that later.
The poplar case top and bottom are milled and cut to final size then marked for dovetailed case joinery. Defining cuts made with back saw, then bow saw is used to clear the waste.
The sides (mahogany) extend beyond the case bottom. That “extra” material was made thinner than rest of side using a router. A shallow groove is also routed to aid aligning and marking mating top and bottom boards.
After case sides half blind dovetails are cut and chopped, the sliding dovetail slots are routed for three poplar shelves. A frame jig is used to keep the slots aligned. With the sliding dovetail slots cut, the mating dovetails are routed on the shelves at the router table. A tall fence and feather boards are used to keep work pieces vertical and firmly against the fence. Light cuts are made to each side, then tested for fit. The router table micro-adjusting fence (Woodpeckers) is much appreciated to sneak up on the fit.
The case is then dry fit and admired. It is shown here upside down. The side bottoms will be shaped at a later time. The small opening at the top (bottom as shown) will have a drawer. The rest of the opening will be enclosed by two tall doors. The poplar horizontal elements will be painted with black milk paint (plus top coat). At this point I also plan to do the black milk paint treatment for the legs as well.
Rather than contrast to the mahogany, the black is intended to set up a foreground/background characteristic to showcase the figured old-growth mahogany.
I was able to get both sides of the book cabinet from one length of old-growth Honduras Mahogany. This board has attractive figure. The board was rough cut with jig saw, then examined for twist. One piece was true enough to run through the drum sander (width too wide for power planer). The other section required using the jointer plane to take down the high (opposite) corners, then it was also run through the drum sander.
Some cracks and voids were filled with West Systems epoxy with color added. I wiped denatured alcohol on one section just to tease myself with the color to come once the cabinet is completed. Looks promising.
A convergence of inspirations lead me to design a book cabinet. As many woodworkers know, Lost Art Press publishes a unique catalog to very high standards. Such books deserve an honorable and secure home. Bookcases and shelves in our home serve to attract and store dust, lots and lots of dust. so book cabinets are strongly preferred for books that matter to us.
Inspiration Number Two came from an 2015 FineWorking article by Hank Gilpin on his very cool leg design. I wanted to flatter his work by incorporating his ideas into a project.
Inspiration Number Three came from a shipment of sinker Honduras Mahogany from Greener Lumber. They salvage material from rivers in Belize (formerly British Honduras) that had been harvested perhaps 150-180 years ago and floated down the river to ships waiting to take the material to England. Many of those logs sank and have been waiting for us ever since. Check out Rich Petty’s web site for more details including videos. I love working with material with a story.
I began the process by making some legs in poplar to see how the process might go. After milling the leg blanks, I cut some mortises for the stretchers. The long rip cuts are marked on the leg ends. First cuts are 45 degrees, followed by perpendicular cuts to create the “fin.” The fin is tapered at the band saw using a sled to hold the correct orientation. I marked a curve on the outer edge and made the round over with a block plane. Rasps and chisels created a tapered, scalloped look on the inner leg bottom.
I made this mockup back in February and have worked intermittently on the next stages over the past five months. A number of smaller projects and activities also slowed the process. One disadvantage of working in this manner is that you lose continuity and confidence. I create a rough outline of a plan for overall dimensions and material planning, but do not flesh out the details on paper. After being away from a project for a bit it is challenging to remember all the grand ideas and intended sequencing floating around the memory banks.
I believe I am on track now, so I’ll be updating the blog with posts of the process. I like working slowly and savoring the process, but I prefer to work in a more regular fashion when possible. If you’d like to follow along, you can subscribe to the blog on the left of these pages. This should be a good ride. Thank you.
The party goes on forever . . . or at least for one more gallery of images from Tom & Gastil’s Birthday Dance Party. Thanks to all who made the night special and those who were not able to make it, but checked in with us. We are very fortunate to have so many special friends.
Tom & Gastil celebrated the birthday and dear friends at Santa Barbara’s historic Carrillo Ballroom. We danced to the sounds of the Ventura Jazz Sextet plus vocalist, Donna Green. Stories from long ago and recent were shared, visited with friends that we do not see often enough and shared a bounty of pot luck delights.
We brought samples of Tom’s woodworking and mementos from the Graphic Arts Center days, when Tom Buhl Typographers served a wide range of clients and personalities.
A number of Range Animal (softball) players and supporters helped make the night special. It was a fabulous, whirlwind evening. Thanks to all who were there and those who checked in during that week. A special surprise was my brother, Skid, visiting from Michigan. Lucky birthday boy I was. Big smile all night long.
I owe a big shout of gratitude to Karen Derfer, Thomas Rollerson and Rod Lathim who took many of these photos to share. This is the first page of two. Link to page two.
This year we gathered at Rosie’s in Southgate to share memories, life updates and friendship. If I am missing any names or have them incorrect let me, Grace or Sue know and we’ll take care of it. You can leave a note in the comments section below, or with a personal email.
This summer dinner is a great new tradition. Each year some newbies have joined those veterans who appreciate sharing a drink and an evening together. It is incredible to share the journey with friends from an important time of our lives.
Thanks to all who could make it and keep checking your email Inbox for announcements from Grace and Sue regarding future events.
A driveway designer and woodworker sharing thoughts, experiences and impressions of the journey.