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.


Nick Brygidyr said...

is that isnt low-tech then i donno what is! hah!

Nicholas Nelson said...

Ha, love it.
I know some people that would frown/laugh (well I giggle a little too) at that, buuuut they probably wouldn't do a curved rebate to begin with heh ;)

Dan McCallum said...

Hope you have the glass supplier dialed in this time - wasn't that a big problem for you last time?

PS Keep up the good work, it's inspiring!

Nicholas Nelson said...

Thanks Dan!
Yeah, I'm leaning towards cutting my own glass. As Jacques said, it's a good skill to have/learn. And it being such thin glass this time, it should be manageable for learning.
Now, when I get to a cabinet I want to do with CURVED glass... we'll see. I might have to go with that shop in Coquitlam Ha.

ps Turns out I may be heading your way in March! Perhaps I'll ransack your piles after all haha

Dan McCallum said...


I see you are mentioned on the IP website update, hope to get a chance to see you and do some woodpile ransacking while you are here!