Sunday, November 30, 2014

Upgrading the dividers

Last week I posted about the vertical drawer dividers, and posted this picture:

It looked kind of nice, but not quite good enough. When browsing through my stack of pictures I found ancient cabinets with the dividers like this. The vertical ones butt up square to the underside of the horizontal shelf. Sometimes they are recessed a bit, sometimes they are even with the shelf on the frontside. In other cabinets I found a neater aproach. The dividers are mitered into the shelf.

So I said to myself, I also want mitered dividers! I cut a cm from the front of my dividers and started all over. First chiseling a miter into the bottom of the shelf. I used a block of wood cut at 45 degrees and chiseled a small triangle in the front of the dado.

With everything assembled again I could mark this new triangle on the front edge of the dividers, and paired them with a sharp chisel carefully up to the pencil mark.

I had to give it a few tries. Actually I wasn't happy with the first attempt, so sawed the dividers a little shorter again and gave it a second chance. Now I am reasonably happy with how they look. With a bit of glue and some sawdust to fill in the last small gaps, this is going to look like a nice upgrade.

(Sorry about the poor picture. The Iphone decided that the files in the background were more interesting then my mitered dividers!)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Shelves and dividers

All the shelves are fitted to the cabinet with the sliding dovetails presented in the previous blog. Just three shelves, but quite a job! When assembling they tried to push the sidewalls of the cabinet apart with gaping joints as a result, but some more fiddling sorted that and I am pretty happy with the result.

Next where the drawer dividers. These spice cabinets always came with a complete array of drawers, like in this little cabinet:
But I need all the storage space I can get in this one, so I opt for only three drawers alomg the bottom, as a tribute to the original design. To seperate these drawers I must install two vertical dividers. I could make these with sliding dovetails too, but I choose the easy way out and use normal straight dado's.

Here's how I cut these dado's. After marking out where I want them to be, I cut a small mortice first. This is across the grain, so you have to be carefull with splintering of the surface which would be unsightly. I chop down within the marking lines first, and remove the material in between. When finished to the required depth I pair down in the marking lines.

The marking lines are then deepened with a wide chisel, and a knifewall  is created with the same chisel. This creates a shallow trench for the saw. Next up is sawing down the walls of the dado with a fine tooth crosscut saw.

The waste in between the sawcuts is chiseled out, and the bottom of the dado is smoothed out to the required depth with a routerplane.

And that's the last bit of carcass of this cabinet. I'll have to clean up everything. Smooth the inside faces of the panels, remove the markings and ease the edges. When I have enough courage I am ready for the glueup!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sliding dovetails

To make things as difficult as possible I decided not to use normal dado's for the shelves, but a sliding dovetail joint. Never done that before, so I had to ask around what the best method is to make these with handtools. Luckily someone replied that the fit isn't too critical, because there is plenty of glueing surface and éverything is hidden from sight.

First I had to prep the wood. Most of this was done with powertools. Cutting a piece of wood from the last cherry plank, planing, resawing it on the table saw, and more planing and thicknessing, They ended up at the 10mm thickness I wanted them to be, It was a squeeze though, the thick tablesaw blade eats up a lot of wood. I really need a bandsaw!

Then I marked out the exact position of all the cutlines. I don't really measure at all, every mark is taken from the other parts, like here, the inside width of the cabinet. This method is much more precise then measuring with a rule.

For the sliding dovetail I first chop a small mortise at the end and mark the sides with a deep knife wall.

And then it's a matter of sawing the sides of the sliding dovetail socket. It';s going to be a half dovetail, so one side is straight, just keep the saw vertical, the other side is at an angle. To give myself an idea about this angle while sawing I set a sliding bevel in front of the board.

The male part is cut likewise. I didn't shoot a picture (sorry), but it is a matter of sawing the baseline and cutting the sloping part with a chisel. Only a little bit of material needs to be removed, so this is quick work.

And here is the result. Not perfect, but not too bad for the first time either.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gappy dovetails

When you set out with the idea that the work you are going to do doesn't need to be top notch, then the chance that it will turn out great is pretty limited! The dovetails of the carcass of this cabinet won't be very visible after everything is completed. The top ones are hidden behind the moulding, the bottom ones are half blind and will only be visible when you crawl down under the cabinet. So I tried to just bang them out. But I find that just taking care to make it presentable doesn't take much more time, and it is always good for practice.

Anyway, these are the worst, most gappy dovetails, I've ever had in a project. So please, don't zoom in too much into the pictures!

I want the cabinet assembled so that it won't fall apart when the glue loosens its strength. The top and bottom have the pins, thus the bottom won't fall on the floor when the glue fails. And this is the top of the cabinet, the sides are "hanging"on the pins (gappy!) from the top.

Another thing I learned (again) is the importance of good lighting. It is easy to put the scribe line into the shadow of the saw when the light comes mostly from one side. So I dug out an old tablelamp so I have a spotlight in  excatly the right place. That simple thing alone greatly increases the quality of the work.

The bottom is sticking out a bit on the front side. Combine that with the half blind dovetails and it means that the edge isn't straight all the way across. I had to cut out part of it. I choose to use a handsaw and cut as close and straight as I could to the line, pairing the result a bit with a chisel to make the side as straight as possible. I learn now (again) that accurate dovetails are easier to make when all parts are straight and square. You can compensate for errors here, but it is just easier to start with straight stuff. That means that I have to revise my view on shooting boards in regards to dovetail cutting. The shooting board makes life easier in this regard. Anyway, here is a picture of the cut, to  make it easier to understand my ramblings.

Another "learning oportunity" was my choice of pin width. I made them so narrow, combined with the rather strong slope of the dovetail sides, that the opening of the pin sockets was too narrow for my smallest chisel, which is 3mm wide. Luckily I had a 1mm #1 carving chisel which saved the day. That tiny little thing with the very flexible blade was brilliant. It holds up admiringly well under the tough work of clearing out dovetail waste!

So, after much struggling, mostly due to my own making, I managed to assemble the carcas. Next job is the shelfs.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Hardware

Just a quick shot of the hardware I purchased. A lock with the key, one of the hinges, three drawer pulls and some forged nails.

Oh, and why is blogger turning my images over 90 degrees? All by itself without me asking?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The medicine cabinet

A new project! For the big bathroom renovation project, scheduled in 2018 or so, this is a great start. The medicine cabinet, inspired by the spice cabinets from the 17th century. I wrote about my inspiration some weeks before: Looking for inspiration.

My cabinet will be a bit more posh then the very simple ones that were just nailed together. I am going to use dovetails to assemble the box. At the top I will put a moulding. Hinges on the outside, just as if it is a barndoor. And a peculiar design detail that I like very much. The left side is extending beyond the door. In later times the door would cover the sides and looking straight on you could only see the door. But in this one you can see the left side too, maybe they needed extra wood for the lock? My lock is going inside, so I could have left this detail out, but I like it. It makes for a bit asymetrical look which spices up this little cabinet.

Inside I think I am going to put three little drawers, and the rest is going to be shelves. All drawers would be fun, but it also would be too impractical.

So, here is the design. Not fancy Sketchup, just a simple pencil drawing.

And a detail view of the crown mulding. This took the most time to design! I am absolutely new to these kinds of classic cabinets, never made a moulding before, so I am very exited to see how it goes. The design isn't really mine, you can see similar shapes in period cabinets.

Today I made a start with machining the lumber. Not all handtool work this time, I take the easy way out! Here you can see how I cut up the cherry boards in a pleasing and economical way. I hope you can see the grain pattern of the boards a bit, they are mostly flatsawn. Clicking on the image will enlarge it,

The front panel P is the full width of the board, so that was easy, It doesn't matter too much how it looks, because I am going to carve it. The long board is mostly flatsawn with cathedral grain, but on the right side the grain runs out to a more rift sawn orientation. That produces a simple striped grain pattern, ideal for the rails and styles of the door. So that part (the r's) is going to be used for those. That leaves a wide area on the left side of this board for the sides (S), the top (T) and the bottom. In between the sides S and the rails r is a long narrow piece which is ideal for the moulding. Nice straight grain in there.

These boards are kiln dried. They are a lot cleaner then the air dried ones I often use, Because air drying takes so much longer, they are often very dirty which makes reading the grain a lot more difficult.

After cutting and ripping and planing and thicknessing, this is the result of an afternoon of hard work: