Building a Credenza #6: The Tedious Part... (Lots of Photos)

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Blog entry by Blake posted 06-01-2010 06:09 PM 8413 reads 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Curvaceous Legs Part 6 of Building a Credenza series Part 7: Finished Assembling the Case »

The following photos represent several days of building. This definitely feels like the SLOW part in the middle of the project. But by the end of today I felt like I was over the hump.

The “Stretchers”

There is something indescribably beautiful about a heavy chunk of lumber before it gets milled. Here is the piece I will use for what I call the “stretchers” that run from side to side along the bottom edges of the cabinet.










Stop to enjoy the view outside my shop




These pieces will be mortised into the mahogany legs. I cut the tenons on my radial arm saw. This is the quickest and easiest way I know to cut tenons. Almost no set up time at all. A stop block on one side makes the length of each tenon the same and the cuts are made freehand until I hit the stop. Then I break out the waste chips with my thumb and slide the tenon back and forth under the spinning blade (up to the stop each time) and it skims the surface until its smooth and flat.





Dados and Rabbets

Next I cut the various rabbets and Dadoes that will receive the drawer fronts, the plywood bottom of the cabinet and the back panel.



Laying out the mortises in the legs which will receive the stretchers:



I hog out most of the waste with a forstner bit.


Then finish off with a mortise chisel:



There is no shame in adding a veneer to the face of a loose-fitting tenon…




The four legs and stretchers joined (no glue yet)


Back Panel

The back panel is solid 1/4” thick Jatoba that was cut from the same slab that the top and sides were originally cut from. On this piece its important to me that even the back is as beautiful as the rest of the cabinet.

I carefully used my biscuit jointer to slot the thin stock:



The back panel joined and glued:


Isn’t Jatoba gorgeous?


Here is another one of those “stretchers.” This one is actually glued and screwed to the underside of the cabinet TOP in the back of the cabinet. It will receive the top of the back panel and strengthen the top against sagging. In this photo the cabinet is upside-down on my bench:


Then I put slots on the inside-edges of my legs to receive the sides of the back panel:


And here is the resulting joint:


This photo is out of order (it shows part of the back panel before it was glued up) ...but it shows how the back panel goes in the slots:


Since the back is solid wood it will be a floating panel. These rubber “space balls” sit in the slots above and below the panel and hold it tightly in place but allow it to move over time.


“Space balls” in the slot:


The MASSIVE glue up

These dowels align the sides with the legs:


The dry fit:


And finally, the glue-up. This turned out to be a BEAR of a glue-up job. I had a hell of a time getting everything together, aligned and clamped in time for it to set.


Total building time so far: 48 hours

-- Happy woodworking!

14 comments so far

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 3929 days

#1 posted 06-01-2010 06:25 PM

Let me be the first to say, beautiful work, Blake!

-- Robb

View bigfish_95008's profile


250 posts in 3099 days

#2 posted 06-01-2010 06:26 PM

Wow, nice work and the photo history really tells the story of how we “waste” time. Only 48 hours, I could double that and still not be where you are.

-- bigfish "I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it." Vincent Van Gogh

View albachippie's profile


772 posts in 3030 days

#3 posted 06-01-2010 06:34 PM

Great work. Thanks for the detailed post. I love learning from masters!

-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3877 days

#4 posted 06-01-2010 06:49 PM

Yup, That is a lot of work.
Fantastic as always. It is beautiful.
And I really enjoy such a step by step blog.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 3492 days

#5 posted 06-01-2010 06:51 PM

Wow, this is going to be one gorgeous unit! Can’t wait to see the finished product.
Your work is fantastic, as always.

Great job on the detailed descriptions, photos etc…........... a big help to alot of us for sure.

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3572 days

#6 posted 06-01-2010 07:20 PM

Wow that’s a great build and beautiful project. It take lots of time to take a photo layout like that thanks so much for sharing Blake

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3111 days

#7 posted 06-01-2010 07:49 PM

another fantasstic picture book from you Blake
ThankĀ“s for taking your time to do it
realy looking forward to see this gordius piece finished


View Cato's profile


701 posts in 3308 days

#8 posted 06-01-2010 08:02 PM

Wow Blake I kind of wandered into this blog and was impressed not even knowing what you were building.

I backed up to the previous blogs to get caught up.

Although this is woodworking way way over my head/skill level to even begin to think my way through it, your steps are very nice and I can tell you can see in your mind how you want to proceed.

I have to have that image before I can do anything with the wood.

Way to go, I love all the photos and steps you are documenting. Makes all the more sense to me seeing the timeline on this project.

View Dave T's profile

Dave T

196 posts in 3615 days

#9 posted 06-01-2010 08:28 PM

Great progress Blake. Love your documentary on the progress. That’s some sweet looking wood, love the color.

View degoose's profile


7233 posts in 3350 days

#10 posted 06-01-2010 10:00 PM

Progress is good and documentation of the entire process is brilliant..

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3668 days

#11 posted 06-01-2010 11:22 PM

Nice progress, Blake!

View Dale J Struhar Sr's profile

Dale J Struhar Sr

493 posts in 3126 days

#12 posted 06-01-2010 11:48 PM

Very nice work can’t wait to see it finished.

-- Dale, Ohio

View sras's profile


4796 posts in 3125 days

#13 posted 06-02-2010 04:31 AM

Looking good! The final piece is going to be AWESOME!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View deeman's profile


379 posts in 3076 days

#14 posted 06-02-2010 05:25 AM

I agree with all that has been said.

-- Dennis Trenton Ohio And life is worth the living just because He lives!

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