Saturday, April 18, 2009

Euro Cherry leg joinery

The stand has been going pretty well. I don't want to jinx it but I might say pretty smoothly considering all the non-planer angles and "crammed" joinery. Here we are at the horizontal motiser with xy again. The mortises for the legs are set up with stop blocks, height shim, depth shims, and angled leg support. I don't remember the last time I actually used notes on an operation but there was a fair amount going on here... Three different mortise depths, haunched mortises, what shim goes in what order as they are different sizes, and I needed to aim at certain sides of my lines due to refitting the shoulders afterwards.

So for the long stretcher side the haunched hole was bored first. It goes the middle depth to make it past the haunch shoulder but not into the overlapping tenon.

Here is the single shim for the haunch.

The the remaining shoulder portion of the tenon was bored.

Add a shim for the shoulder.

Last the overlapping mortise was bored with no shim to go the full depth of the end mill bit.

Fast forward the fitting of the "loose tenons" and this is was the the joint looks like, pulled apart a bit as to see what's going on. By the way the laminated stretcher is just a bit under 3/4" thick. The tenons are 5/32" thick.

After fine tuning the fit of the legs to the stretchers with the tenons in place (yep it seems as though these structures need to be fit after everything you add for a precise fit) I went to the dowels that will go into the cabinet and the leg.
This is a little single dowel jig that I used with a hand held power drill.

The stretchers were placed with legs to the cabinet, clamped down and the legs removed. Dowel center finders put in the holes and legs loaded once again to lightly press into the center finders. I would normally press the finders more firmly but I am looking for a draw-pin action here. SO, the legs are then taken off and light center marks found. I used a awl to remark the dowel ever so slightly to the inside of the original mark. The off center mark will draw the leg into the side of the joint.
Now the a bulk of the nit-picky (yet pretty enjoyable) part is done... it's shaping time!!! (for the stretchers and legs)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Moving On to the Cherry

Finally! Time to work on the leg system of this Elm Cabinet. This Euro Cherry is wonderful to work. I've had these block cut and sitting around for quit some time. This week I finally brought them out to have a more serious look. Two beautiful pieces of at least 8/4 rift-sawn material with mild fare curves. One was a bit over a foot long and the other verging on two feet each about 7" wide. Why am I going on describing these? Because it was pretty hard for me to do what I did. I was thinking of getting the two short stretchers of on the one shorter plank and hanging on to the bigger one for another project another day. It was big enough that I could have done a whole small cabinet out of! super nice drawer stock or box or frames or whatever. Especially coming from a comercial cabinet school my first reaction is to get the most efficient use of the material. But this is not what I'm here at IP for. I thought about it and knew that the graphics of the two stretchers cut from the same length side by side would not match. Even if it was a slight difference as this Cherry is more mellow than other woods. I thought this is part of what separates a good piece from a great one.
So after a little more thought I marked the two separate pieces. I knew I was going to cut them on a curve and wanted a subtle curve in the grain to flow with it. so I aimed for a very mellow rift cut heavily on the quarter-sawn side.

This is what came out. I approved with a little chuckle to myself at the band saw.

Back to the legs. The cabinet has notches cut out of the corners to integrate the legs. The five sided legs offer a few slight difficulties over a four sided one, for one holding it has you work. There is a 45 degree cradle under the leg so that I can hit the back sides of the leg with a hand plain to fine tune the fit to the cabinet notches.

Then I flipped the cabinet upside down and clamped the stretcher peices where I wanted them and scored them with a knife. A sharp knife can offer a finer line to work to though it's harder to adjust than a pencil of course.

Here I'm working to those knife lines on the table saw using a quickly put together yet ACCURATE 90 degree cross-cut sled. the riser block props the work piece to help find the angle and to act as a contact point so the angle of the cut doesn't change as more matireal gets cut.

Thanks to the accuracy of the knife marking, cross-cutting, and the human eye there really wasn't a lot of fitting to do. It was a bit stressful work. The integrated legs at another side of complexity and need for accuracy than a separate stand especially on a curved cabinet such as this where there are no repeating angles. The next steps are equally, if not more critical. The preservation of the joinery location without repeating mortise alignment.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Yep, pulls are here. Pulls for some reason have been a difficult area for me, or maybe I make it seem difficult for myself. I don't feel as though I have great ideas for pulls. The main thoughts I have had about them is that I don't want them to ruin the rest of the piece ha. I don't consider myself a carver, there are reasons I mainly played drums instead of guitar.
I spent a whole day with pull mock-ups and ended up going with (as often is the case) with the first idea I had. I thankfully acquired some bits of Ornamental Maple from Jody that I used for the pulls. Thee wood more resembles Olive wood than maple and it has a smell which I think of a more subdued King Wood fragrance. Whatever the case it is a great match for the cabinet. I also used this wood for the flipper-flopper and leveler for the door.

Contrary to my previous statement I did not have the worst of times carving these little guys, but it was much more time consuming than I would have liked. Reflecting on it though I find that the pulls are a very important part of as piece. Sure people can touch and caress a cabinet all they want but the pulls are the only point of contact for performing the function of a drawer or door. If the pulls feel wrong then people will feel put off by using them. Maybe they wont pull out the drawer so often to notice how it grabs a bit as it almost comes out. Maybe they wont notice the playful cushion of air softening the closing of a door but think instead about an awkwardness.

Anywho on the technical side. The picture above shows wholes being drilled for dowels. I used tiny dowels instead of live tenons because the grain of the pull in oriented along its length. This means that the "post" only offer short grain. The dowels act as cross reinforcement to the pull.

Ah the slot mortiser with x-y table. Such a beneficial tool to have! I'm not often a fan of sophisticated jigs (which the xy table basically is) but this is one that denfinently will pay off. Here I just used it for the dowel plunge drilling. I clamped the drawer to the table at the angle I needed then drilled a whole, WITHOUT touching the clamp I moved the table and drilled the next whole perfectly parallel to the first.

Drawers are done and finished, pulls are done and attatched, feels good.

The drawer sides and bottoms of woods I got from Dan (yes one could call him "the man") from Vancouver. Beautiful material that these and probably not any picture could do justice... but these are especially poor. I'm afraid of how many pictures I will want to take of the whole cabinet in proper light when it is done... even the bottom of the drawers! Which leads me to another topic that I don't think I'll write about tonight... maybe another night.