Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cabinet Sides... more frames

Moving along to the cabinet sides. They will also be frames with glass set in them, however these are flat and square which made life easier with them! Above, "the spectator sport of free-hand mortising" with no one to spectate heh. I'm using 3/8" thick mortise and tenons in these frames. There's little reason to go with twin tenons here as the sides are fully supported in the cabinet and there's enough width in the styles.
I'd rather not go back to an x-y table until I get get a REAL one ha but if I'm in a bind I can make do with my plywood one.

Tenons are cut slightly too large on the table and band saws.

Then round over and trim/file/sand the tenons to fit the mortises they will be joining.

Because I cannot count on precise cuts with the tables saw I have available I have a little extra work to do. Even if you DO have a nice saw there will probably some clean up to do on the shoulders. I just have to account for a smidge extra in my measurements to be able to get a clean shoulder using my chopping block. Handy things they are.

Rebates made in the back of the frames for glass and more rounded corners to chop square.

Fast forward the edge treatment and pre-finishing the side frames are glued up.
Whilst glue was drying I started on some lumber-core for the top and bottom of the cabinet. I have a little mixed feeling about building lumber-core at the moment, but we'll see once I get them done. Thing is it's tedious, time consuming, and dusty on the band saw if you don't have dust control like myself. I like it because you can do things with it that you just can't do/would be a real pain with plywood such as tapered/curved parts. It is also an "old school" way of making substrate and doesn't use the nasty adhesives that plywood does. I'm using Poplar also so it's relatively light, stable, and is a fast growing tree.
Ha one probably doesn't have to make as small strips as I did, perhaps next time I'll make them larger.

Ok back to the frames, the doors. Before I get going TOO far on the substrates I have to know pretty exactly how big the cabinet will be. I came back to the door frames to make the overlap where the doors will meet, you do have to plan this from the beginning.
Done on the router table with a modified bit to give a nice little round on the inside corner. Because the styles are capped by the rails which are end-grain to the router operation, REMEMBER to use a backer block when finishing each pass! I don't want chips flying out of these nice doors!

The overlap may look about equal here but the styles are set back 3/32" from the rails. So the majority of the overlap seam is thicker at the back and thinner towards the front. I don't like the idea of a cavernous divide ha. So if there's light that shines through the meeting of the doors or when opening the doors the "back" will be right there giving a more delicate overlap with a hardier backer.
Perhaps this is a lot of thought about a little detail, but that's what this kind of craft is about :).

Boy, this seems to be taking me some time to do. I suppose it's because I'm usually using "solid" sides. Cut the plank of wood, or make a veneered substrate and go with it. With these sides each has a number of joints, rebates, lines and details that need to meet up. Now that they are basically done I can start building the cabinet like I only started working on it a couple days ago HA!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Showcase Doors

Boy, these doors are taking me some time! Though the doors arguably being the most important part of a cabinet, I guess it's alright. That and the fact that these are curved frame doors, which I've never done, with glass "faceted" along the curve, which I've never done, with a compounded curve the to top rail, which I've never done, all using stub tenons including baby twin tenons, which I think take a bit more time than slip/bridal joints. HA! Well why not do it all the things I haven't done before at once!? hmmm
Anywho, The joinery for the frames are done. As I may have mentioned I made the styles (vertical pieces) a bit thicker than the rails (horizontal pieces) which can be see above. This was to allow for any wiggle room when joint making. Just hand plane them flat and "planer" to the rails and one can move on.

Now time for probably the most critical part of the whole cabinet... the rebates for glass in the curved doors. If the doors were flat, this would be relatively straight forward, but no. Curves. ha
Before going at this I read through the Showcase section in JK's Impractical Cabinetmaker where he talks about these doors (minus the compound curve). Though I found the pictures a little vague/not of the operations I was looking for. JK didn't have the flexibility of an online source though so it can't be helped. Hopefully what I have done here makes sense heh, made sense to me anyway, maybe others can think of easier/better ways...
Make a template. I'm sure there's more than one way to make more than one kind of template. I used some scrap 1/4 plywood. I drew exactly what I wanted on the plywood. Rough cut it with a band saw, then defined the template precisely by hand and chop block.

JK wrote about making a whole jig for holding your template to the work, I opted for a lower tech option, partially because of the curve in my top rails I wouldn't be able to use the holding jig for 2 of 4 pieces anyway.
Using a router template guide bushing I first set the template close, but not quite the bushing thickness passed my rebate lines. Made a pass with the router and slowly tapped my template back till the bit just skimmed the lines.
I was able to cut full depth of the rebate (3/16") with this set-up for the flat bottom pieces. Not the top curved ones.

Now, before I came to this conclusion I had racked my brain trying to come up with some sort of jigging to cut the curved rebates in my curved rails. I got fed up with trying to think of a jig that would make a clean finish cut and knew that I could get close then finish by hand by the time I may think of a jig.
SO I used the above template to start the rebate and to hit my rebate lines exactly. I could only make a straight cut with the above template set-up (straight rebate but varying rebate depth due to visual curve).
I took the template and bushing off. and set the curved rails up side by side (held to the bench with double sided tape LOVE THAT STUFF) for the router to stand on. The concave curves allows the router base to always have two points of contact along the curve (4 points counting both pieces) thus giving it stability, and the ability to cut a smoothly curved rebate "bottom".
This may be a little brow-raising to most but using the actual pieces as aids is something I have done a number of times before. Everything is exactly as I want it, why make and try to duplicate shapes with scrap wood when you don't have to!? ha.
I changed the bit to a smaller diameter so I could better see what was going on. Now, just free-hand route as close to the already exact starting point as one feels comfortable down to finish depth.

That resulted in a little bit of material I needed to clean up by hand to hit the desired line.
Then make the rebates in the styles with standard router table and chop the corners out of the rail rebates!
Phew! It seemed to have worked out, though I don't have glass to put in yet heh.

Now, I want to get the doors all glued up before moving on too far with the cabinet. To be able to do that I had to do some finish prep and edge treatment on some parts because these are frames and other parts because of the steps I've made between frame elements.
Above is the bench during edge treatment. Using a number of techniques depending on grain the edges are applied to. Block plane for long grain, files and paper for end grain.

So here they are, dry-fit with all the prep needed to do some prefinishing before assembly. Soon it will be on to FLAT pieces for the rest of the cabinet!!! ... until I get to the stand ha.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Where's the flow?

Hey, I'm still alive. Just haven't been able to create a decent work flow lately. Working more hours at the other job to "make up" for time off, it being so hot and thick out here that it's a struggle to move, and problem-solving for these the cabinet doors racking my brain... alas a little relief with some good work done.

Above is a "book-matched" pair of air-dried Maple I got locally about this time last year (crazy to think a year has gone by). I cut some of this maple up for my table tops... kind of wish I hadn't because once again I'm calling it close for usable material. The tone of this maple is lovely, a much more "buttery" color than commercial Maple and a creamy texture. This is my Cabinet material.

I work at the door rails first, in my opinion the most important pieces for this cabinet. I haven't cut anything else at this point. If for some reason one of these is to not work out I need the next best selection.
A lot of the time these kinds of doors are made using bent lamination but it being Maple and with the end grain to be used as aesthetic features I don't want all those seams... also I just wanted to use solid material.
Note the nice curve of the grain accentuating the curve of the pieces because of the way arranged the cuts. Also the stronger grain curve on the top piece that will work well with the shape to come.

The outsides were shaped first, the the inside cut.

Save the off-cuts of the outside shape to use as supports for further work with the components.
I used spoke shaves for the inside shaping. Don't forget to keep things square! (that is if that's what you want)

Using those off cuts again. Cross cut the pieces to size on the table saw.

Here is the top rail with another curve introduced. I originally made the rails about 5/16" taller than they need to be so that I can get 3/16" thick strips to use to hold the glass in place.

Door joinery. This was one of the things I was losing sleep over... what to do. Most of the time one would use slip-tenons (aka bridal joints) BUT because my bottom rail is so tall (2-5/8") I didn't feel it was appropriate aesthetically and mainly due to wood movement potentially breaking/weakening the joints. I can get adequate stub tenons in the outer styles but the middle ones are pretty narrow... particularly the right side because of both the rebate for glass and lay-over for the meeting of the doors.
I came up with a couple options and was wanting to lean towards small double tenons but felt that they may be too small. After sleeping on it (or trying to) I reasoned that the middle style joints aren't baring a whole ton of load. The outside corners, where the hinges go, are going to be the real load bearing points. I think these double tenons will be quite adequate.