Making a Penn spice cabinet using mostly hand tools. #1: And so it begins.

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Blog entry by JeremyPringle posted 09-26-2011 03:31 AM 3247 reads 11 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Making a Penn spice cabinet using mostly hand tools. series Part 2: Half blinds for the top. »

A few months ago I bought two nice pieces of highly figured maple. 8/4, 9” wide and about 4’ long. And the best part… I got it cheap. So it has been in my shop while I sat around trying to decide what to do with it. I made up my mind. About 16 months ago I made a spice cabinet out of pine and dyed it to look like walnut. I love it, loved everything about it. But I want to make another one, a better one, one from awesome wood. So, thats what I am going to do. This is a blog of the process.

So to start it all off, I had to have it resawn, and because I only have a few power tools (tabel saw, routers, drill press and power planer more on that thing later) I had to take it down to my local hardwood dealer to have it cut for me. Below is the second board cut in half, I decided to do this blog after I had already cut up the one that will become the main case.

So, a small note on my power tools. Yes, I have a 12” craftsman planer, and my relationship with that tool is on the rocks. I dont like it, and it does not like me. And it only gets used when I have tons and tons of planing to do and its all soft wood, like pine. I think the last time I used it was about a year ago when I had to plane 3/4 pine to 1/2 for all the drawer material for my daughters dresser that I made. Something like 50 boards. Now a note on my routers. I have a router table with dedicated router, and a hand held router with set and plunge base, and I also have a bosch colt. None of these will be used in this project. Drill press, not likely to be used, and then there is the table saw. I love my table saw. There is not a chance that it is going anywhere any time soon. The table saw is the only power tool that I will be using in this project, and that is only for rough milling of some of the material. Eg, I need the maple 9” wide. I will cut it about 9.125 and then use hand planes to get it to final width. Ok, now that is out of the way.

Once I got the boards home and let them sit for a few days, I then took my veritas LA jack plane with a fresh edge and went to work. Got all the band saw marks out and everything nice and even and smooth and flat. The to the TS to cut the top, bottom and two sides to rough dimension. Then they were stickered and left to sit for another few days.

Then today, back at it. Used winding sticks to reflatten the 4 boards (as they did move a little bit). Once I was good on the flattness, I scribed the desired thickness on all the boards and went to town. Once close, I put a toothed blade in my LA smoothing plane and took a few passes making the cross hatch. Then put in the 25° blade and took the cross hatch off leaving a perfectly smooth surface.

Thats it for today, thats a lot of planing. Next time: half blind and through dovetails.

7 comments so far

View therookie's profile


887 posts in 2880 days

#1 posted 09-26-2011 03:37 AM

Cant wait for the next entry, and btw nice wood


View mpmitche's profile


428 posts in 3029 days

#2 posted 09-26-2011 03:42 AM

Looks like you have a great start. Can’t wait to see it come together.

-- Mike, Western New York

View kenn's profile


810 posts in 3772 days

#3 posted 09-26-2011 07:23 AM

This is a blog I am looking forward to following, keep us posted on your progress.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View BenR's profile


340 posts in 2681 days

#4 posted 09-28-2011 06:14 PM

Love the Penn spice cabinets also. Have one (or two) on my list. Will be following along with your build.
Wondering if you are using a set of plans or just designing it as you go? Nice find on the wood.

-- Ben in Va

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2975 days

#5 posted 09-28-2011 07:44 PM

If this turns out anything like your previous projects you are on your way to another winner.!. Keep us posted.

-- Life is good.

View JeremyPringle's profile


321 posts in 2526 days

#6 posted 09-29-2011 02:02 AM

Thanks everyone. I am currently cutting the DT’s and should have the next part posted in the next day or so.

Nikki. No, I am not following plans. For the most part I am flying by the seat of my pants. But there are certain things that I am still undecided on. For example, I still dont know if I should have the back of the case in grooves in the case sides, or if I am just going to rabbet the case sides and set the back in after I have the case done. OR…. if I am going to have the back on hidden hinges to reveal secret compartments… which is likely. Basically, I am going to make the main case, then figure out the drawer configuration and then make final decisions on the other things. So it is going to be interesting.

View SPHinTampa's profile


567 posts in 3738 days

#7 posted 07-17-2012 12:28 PM

Amazing wood. Interesting blog.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

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