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Thorsen House Cabinet #10: First cabinet door...."J'adore/j'ai a door"

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Blog entry by EläväPuu posted 04-03-2015 10:36 AM 1518 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 9: A little more on finishing.... Part 10 of Thorsen House Cabinet series Part 11: Reworking the muntins »

Apologies for mangling French irretrievably there just to force out a pun….

The doors presented a few logistical challenges. Surprisingly, the internal rebate angles were the least of these. The largest challenge was in the form of how best to clamp the main outer frame whilst gluing. The frame comprises morticed hinge and lock stiles with two tenoned upper/lower rails.


(the mortice and tenon sizes increased in height which the drawing does not indicate)

Prior to any shaping the door is checked in the recess for basic fit. I want a good tight-ish fit that pops in without pressure, but not so sloppy that large gaps exist. I was asked as to whether the frame would “slump” under the weight of gravity from the glass. Quite possibly it will in a normal window or a door, however unless the cabinet doors are left open regularly, this is not an issue. The dry fit demonstrated an excellent fit with the mating surfaces joining cleanly. No massive amount of clamping required. Simply enough, the cabinet was laid back and the glued and heavily-taped frame laid into the recess. A couple of quick clamps provided a little pressure to keep the seams tight whilst a plywood board with weight added kept the door flat to the frame. Wonderfully low-tech but highly effective! Attention to getting the joinery clean and tight when dry does far more work than trying to “fix it in the clamps”.

The frame was passed through the drum sander to achieve a uniform thickness (unfortunately, this adds cross-grain scratches) before taking the frame to the spindle moulder for shaping into the frame. A rebate cutter set to 8° made short work of the internal angle. Several passes were made both for the reasons of cleanliness (end grain, tearout) and creeping up on the final fit. The finished frame places confidently as it is required.

The muntins required a degree of patience and thinking. The main vertical muntin is the only one milled from a single solid piece of Birch. All of the muntins have a “T” profile with some very fine dimensions; apart from the vertical muntin, all are too fine to safely and efficiently carry out using routers, table saws, etc.

The fine muntins are instead made up from a facing and a rear glazing divider. In spite of the glazing itself having significant weight, the fine horizontal muntins bear little to none of this. The vertical muntin is the only part other than the outer frame lending structure. The largest panels bear onto the lower rail, hinge/lock stiles and weightier vertical muntin whilst the rest only require the most minimal of support.

The decision to “go light” with the muntin weighting has no bearing on the structural aspect of the door. As Joe McGlynn pointed out to me, the muntins in the original are surprisingly light themselves. Partially this does not surprise me….more Greene & Greene showboating….?

After a brief break I’ll be heading onto the central and remaining doors plus shelves. Beyond this, the rest of the work is purely finish and fit. Dependant on requirement, the cabinet may end up with a full surround similar to the original. The destined location is not the strongest wall in the house and short of ripping down and rebuilding will need creative work to safely mount this monster!

For the glasswork, we are hoping to locate some more vintage-looking drawn glass rather than the modern overly-sterile flat equivalent…..

-- "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence"



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