Little Tansu Inspired Case #1: Carcase and Dividers

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Dorje posted 02-12-2008 04:48 AM 7470 reads 6 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Little Tansu Inspired Case series Part 2: Keyed Miters and Drawer Parts »

I’ve had the urge to just make something small for some time now…I’ve been working on a bed with what little shop time I have, and haven’t had much time for other stuff. I wanted one of those projects that you could just take the materials at hand and go for it.

Also, something that wouldn’t take forever to build and would give some (relatively) instant gratification.

I had some scrap cedar, fir, poplar, and walnut that’ll be used in this little box/case. Milled the assorted woods to 5/8” for the main carcase and drawer fronts, 1/2” for dividers and drawer sides, and 1/4” for the drawer bottoms and back.

Here are the carcase sides made up. After cutting to length, I rabbeted the back edge 1/4”x1/4”, plowed stopped dadoes for the drawer dividers, and mitered the ends.

This next photo is simply the dry fit to see how the miters came together. I’ll tell you, they’re not perfect, I don’t have a jig to perfect miters on stock this wide. I suppose I could’ve built one, but didn’t want to spend my time doing that at this point. I used the tip that Karson picked up from Franz Klausz – that is: to use the inside of the board as the outside (show) surface. I like the idea in this case especially because, if the boards were to cup, they’d want to push on the outside corners, rather than split the corners open. With the keys that’ll come, I have no fear that this case will want to come apart down the line.

All the corners/sides were nice and square at glue up time:

A couple shots from the front, after cutting and fitting divider stock to the case:

- and in color too!:

Here’s a shot from the back – the dividers are sticking out in the back because they are not assembled yet. Still need to run tongue and grooves for those, as well as put in a guide block for the upper divider in the center. It will have a central muntin.

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

24 comments so far

View gizmodyne's profile


1779 posts in 4086 days

#1 posted 02-12-2008 04:53 AM

Looking good. You are taking the mitered box up a notch. Good tip on using the inside of the board. Hmmm….Busting out “wonder boy” I see (shoulder plane).

Why don’t you run the miters on the table saw or did you? Time for a miter sled?
Are you going to put the tanzu stlye hardware on it?

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3993 days

#2 posted 02-12-2008 05:06 AM

Wonder boy was used to clean up the rabbets is all. I cut the miters on the miter saw, just cause it was quick and dirty. Table saw next time.

It won’t have any hardware; finger pulls will be 3/4 (or so) of a circle cut outs…

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3987 days

#3 posted 02-12-2008 05:07 AM

Looking really nice so far Dorje. After the bed I made I had the same urge, the result being my last two projects. Have you considered mitering the front too, so the front is recessed, might look neat…

(Love the b+w shots, looks just like a feature from Woodworking magazine :)

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3993 days

#4 posted 02-12-2008 05:14 AM

Thanks Damien – Tell me more about what you mean about the recessed front. My minds eye is seeing a couple different things.

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4110 days

#5 posted 02-12-2008 05:29 AM

Hey Dorje,

Nice looking cabinet. I need to build something “small” too. I haven’t completed something that wasn’t for the shop for a while now. Now I just have to find the time to get out there.

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 3811 days

#6 posted 02-12-2008 05:38 AM

That’s coming along great. I’ll be following this one. I really have fun with joinery and from the looks of it, so do you. Figuring it out is 50% of the fun the other half is executing it.

-- Scott - Chico California

View Grumpy's profile


23916 posts in 3847 days

#7 posted 02-12-2008 05:52 AM

Great job Dorje. Aren’t those black & white photos good !.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4018 days

#8 posted 02-12-2008 06:09 AM

Neat little project. I like the tip about flipping the boards inside out to help prevent the corners from opening.
So much to learn.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4090 days

#9 posted 02-12-2008 06:57 AM

Great project to give one the all important feeling of accomplishment. And, a well written blog as usual. I’m loving the black and white as others have mentioned. I think it helps the viewer focus on the subject at hand and not be distracted by all the brightly colored tools and what have you that ends up on the bench. Thanks for the post.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3780 days

#10 posted 02-12-2008 07:23 AM

Wow. Very cool. Something like this would take me weeks to build (once I thought and planned for months)!

-- Eric at

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3984 days

#11 posted 02-12-2008 07:44 AM

Looks like a nice quick little project that’s coming along great!

I had to google “tansu” style. Very cool.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3792 days

#12 posted 02-12-2008 12:31 PM

Cool little project Dorje. Tansu chests are just plain neat to me. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing it finished.

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3818 days

#13 posted 02-12-2008 03:20 PM

Nice project Dorje, as always. I will have to follow Gary’s trail and google Tansu. I am completely in the dark about the style but this gives me a chance to learn something new today- and that is what this site is about.

I like the tip on turning the boards inside out. I am not sure I can quite visualize this yet but it makes me want to run out to the shop and cut some miters to find out. This is definitely “thinking outside the box”.

Thanks for the post I’m anxious to see the finished product (but don’t be shy about posting some more construction pictures if you have an opportunity).

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View SteveL's profile


167 posts in 3764 days

#14 posted 02-12-2008 03:54 PM

I don’t know what you would consider to be “perfect” miters but those look pretty darn tight to me. You are going to “key” these with sliding dovetail keys, or what? I’ll be looking forward to seeing the finished result, but it sure looks like it’s going to turn out very nice. I like the grain and figure you chose for the carcase sides.

-- SteveL

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3987 days

#15 posted 02-12-2008 04:18 PM

How to explain.. I’m thinking you could chamfer, or even roundover ala Maloof, the inside edges of the case, and then recess the drawers. Currently at the corners you have a miter running in the x – y plane, the roundover /chamfer would be in the x – z plane (front to back). The dividers would then scooch back a little, and be flush with the newly chamfered/rounded over edges. Make any sense at all?

Something along the lines of this

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

showing 1 through 15 of 24 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics