I have been busy working on the cabinet, trying to make the most of the two weeks I took off work to get done as much as I could accomplish. The carcase has now been glued up, a process that consisted of several stages in order to simplify assembly.
The stages I used were: (1) Cloud lifts; (2) Drilling shelf holes; (3) Carcase sides; (4) Door divider into front stretchers; (5) Web frame; (6) Final carcase glueup.
Since I hand cut all the tenons there were inevitable small gaps where the pieces mated together even after I back-beveled the shoulders slightly. I have seen recommendations to smear wood glue in the joint line and sanding the area to make a ‘putty’ that fills the gaps and it does work, but in my experience fails to take stain or oil very well. I prefer to use plane shavings and glue them in place at the time of clamping. You just have to make sure that you apply glue to both sides of the shaving so that you get a solid bond through the joint. It also acts as a kind of ‘gasket’ in that you can compress the shaving to help with a very tight fitting joint line.
When the glue dries you take a sharp chisel and just pare it off flush to the surface. Here are two examples of joints that have been pared flush.
While the small parts dried I drilled my shelf pin holes. This would be far easier when the sides were still easily accessible but I’ve had some bad experiences in the past where holes didn’t line up properly and thus the shelves all rocked. My only hope was to measure off my distance from the one solidly known point of the cabinet..the bottom of each post. No shelf drilling jig was going to be long enough to allow me to index off the bottom of the post and drill holes in a reasonable position in the carcase so I made my own template from some 1/4” plywood. I used Rockler shelf pin bits and with a micrometer determined that the OD of the bit collar was 3/8”. Actual practice showed me that I needed to make the holes 1/64” larger to avoid forcing the collar in and tugging it back out. Could have been my drill bits being imprecise or perhaps they were VERY precise..but either way 25/64” was a snug but not overly tight fit. I chose to drill my holes at 1 1/8” intervals because industry standard is 1 1/4” and I wanted to maintain the ‘shop-made’ appearance. I also didn’t know about the industry standard until after I drilled my holes in the template. But the first explanation sounds better to me! I labeled the template so that I would have the same edge facing the corner each time. Overkill and probably useless since I centered the holes on the template but I just have this dread of misaligned shelf pin holes.
I used a straight piece of scrap to help me flush the template to bottom of the posts, clamped it into place and drilled lots of holes. Four times.
Once I was satisfied the small pieces had dried the rest of the sides went into clamps. Note- Extend glue is your friend!! I am not at all certain that regular woodglue would have given me the open time I needed to do my assembly and clamping before setting up. As it was I felt that I was pushing the extend glue to the maximum. I was very glad that I’d done several dry runs and the clamps were preset and prestaged for rapid use. I paid extra attention to get both of the ‘feet’ perfectly aligned with each other so they should meet the floor in coplanar fashion, essential for the shelf pin holes.
Normally you can remove clamps after one hour, four hours if the joints are going to be stressed further, but since I was using a slow drying glue I left the sides in clamps over night before proceeding to the next step. I had bad visions of joints slowly pulling themselves apart if I didn’t allow plenty of curing time.
Gluing the divider in place is nothing more than a large scale version of the small cloud lifts so I didn’t photograph it. The only difference being that my clamps weren’t long enough so I used my bench dogs and tail vise to clamp it together (with waxed paper protecting my workbench top).
I needed to reinforce the structure of the cabinet, essentially a 3/4” thick walled ‘tube’ held together with glue, against the rigors of end user use. Cabinets get shoved sideways on floors and carpets rather than lifted, get bumped into, and in this case, will be subjected to Navy movers, all of which means that the structure needed more rigidity. While the divider dried I made up some alder web frames held together with pocket hole screws and glue. I chose alder because it’s a traditional secondary furniture wood, it’s cheaper than cherry, and it’s frequently used to mimic cherry due to its natural coloration and grain characteristics. Note, however, it is softer than cherry and that should be considered when using it as a substitute! The lower web frame will also give me a good mounting point for the bottom of the cabinet. When the dividers had dried I dry fit the cabinet one last time so I could fine tune the web frames using a block plane. The lower frame will be completely hidden and the top one will only be visible if you stick your head inside the cabinet and go looking for it. But you can see that it color matches the cherry quite well.
I verified that the carcase would be square and then glued the whole thing up, a repeat of the side glue up but with even more time concerns as I had LOTS of wobbly large pieces to get set up and I was the only pair of hands available. I also had to ensure that the post bottoms matched up front to back, side to side and diagonally..damn you shelf pins!! I chose to set the carcase up on its feet during the drying to help ensure the posts remained level with one another. The web frames were clamped in place at this time but I screwed them in after I removed the clamps the next day.
Anyone know why the cabinet is sitting on melamine? Anyone? Bueller? It’s because concrete is hygrophillic and likes to suck moisture out of anything it touches..like the bottom of the cabinet posts. In fact it is so good at it that one of my posts cracked and had to be repaired with epoxy and clamps. So try not to let raw wood sit on concrete for any length of time or you risk uneven moisture loss and all the woes that come with it. Even wood with finish shouldn’t sit directly on concrete..you’ve been warned :D. Melamine also provides a more level surface than standard garage floor concrete does.
The next morning I came out, removed the clamps, fine tuned the carcase bottom and cut the back panel..which left me with this:
Compared to the original pictures I think we’re doing just fine!
Next installment will cover door making..
Thanks for reading!
-- Mistake? No, that's just an unexpected design opportunity....