A veneered curly koa, James Krenov style cabinet on a sculpted, curved leg, stand. The doors are bookmatched with a strip of sapwood down the middle. The turned Gaboon ebony handles accent the koa’s colors.
This was a joint project with expert woodworker and friend, Jack Hutchison from Houston TX. and it was built in six days.
But first I want to thank everyone who visited and responded to my last blog;
I’ve admired Jack’s work on the woodworking forums for years. His specialty is 18th Century reproductions and mine, well…..mine is whatever I can get someone to pay me to make! After many emails and private messages, Jack said “Hey! Why don’t we get together for a joint project. Your shop or mine, and we’ll do it on a “work for food” basis.” So we worked out the deal. The host keeps the project, or sells it to his client, and the guest gets room and board and we both get the opportunity to meet each other and work with someone we admire. The only preliminary work we did prior to his arrival was to decide on the project…..A Krenov style cabinet in curly fiddleback koa.
The entire carcass is veneered. The inside is done in white maple. The elegance of the sweeping curved legs is complimented by the sculpted and curved form of the apron’s bottom edge and the rounded-over upper edges of the stand.
A detail shot of the dovetailed mini drawers, their ebony pulls, and the careful mating of the cabinet to stand.
We wanted the back to be as beautiful as the front so the piece could be placed anywhere in a room. We bookmatched the maple inside, and bookmatched the koa in back.
We started by re-sawing the all the veneers, both koa and maple. We did this first because we were forced to let the “net width” of the prettiest piece of koa dictate the finished width of our doors, and therefore the cabinet.
The veneer slices went straight to the drum sander for a few quick passes. Jack inspects a slice of koa that will become one of the doors as he starts sanding the maple flitch.
We started to break down the 12/4 rough plank of walnut for the stand by cutting it to rough length on the RAS.
We planed to a “clean” thickness and I jointed one edge to prep for ripping our leg blanks.
We laid out our desired curve on a piece of ¼ inch hardboard and Jack cut it out on the band saw and sanded to final shape.
While Jack started on the legs, I edge glued all the veneers that would be bookmatched. Before veneering, some carcass panels needed to be edged with solid koa to accommodate rabbets and some strictly for edge appearance. Then I set up the vacuum bag and started pressing veneers.
These are the two sides of the carcass, fresh out of the press. Each panel is bookmatched koa.
While I’m veneering, Jack works on the legs. First, one side of each leg is sawn close to the pattern’s pencil line. Then he hot glued the cut-off back onto the sawn side of the leg for support while he cut the second side.
Because the legs are curved on two planes, he used the hand sander for most of the sanding. The spindle sander and edge sander could only be used for small portions of the legs.
After Jack had finished the basic sanding on the legs, and we had completed the veneering of the front doors, we were able to determine the final dimensions of our cabinet. With this information, we could cut our aprons to final size and took the stand’s pieces to the FMT and I cut all the mortise and tenons.
Here is a shot of leg parts ready for the dry fit.
Jack drew up a gentle curve for the bottom edge of the aprons to compliment the leg’s curve, made templates for both dimensions needed for the aprons, and flush trimmed them all on the router table. The stand is ready for a dry fitting and glue up!
After the glue up, Jack started the hand sculpting of the upper aprons and routing the softened edges of the legs.
Here it is, all sculpted, sanded, and wiped down.
Meanwhile, I have been scraping and smoothing all the carcass panels. They were then cut to dimension and the carcass is getting closer to glue up.
After I glued up the walnut edging on the top and bottom of the carcass, Jack went to work on the dados for the dividers, shelf, and the knife hinges.
After pre-sanding all the parts and a complete dry fit with doors, it’s time to glue up the carcass. We taped all the parts to assist in any glue squeeze out and glued it up.
Our cabinet design calls for four small drawers. Here is where Jack’s experience doing drop front secretaries and period desks really came into play. He is the master of the tiny drawer, secret compartments, and hidden drawer locks. He set up, cut the parts, and built the gallery framework.
After the drawers were glued up, he hand sanded each one to get that perfect “piston fit”.
I made up and installed some Gaboon ebony pulls, and the final drawer fit was completed.
We wanted a perfect “piston fit” on the carcass back too, so the rabbet was “cornered” by hand chisel, and the back was carefully fit to size.
The first coats of an oil/varnish blend have been applied. The doors, stand, and drawers are starting to show some sheen. The back panel has been glued in and clamped. After the back has been scraped smooth and sanded, we will mount the base to the stand and complete the final finishing process. Tomorrow is “day six” and appears that we will get it done and shoot pictures before Jack has to get on the plane.
This detail shot shows the tight fit of the veneered back panel.
This shot shows the detail of the wooden drawer lock spring. It takes a tiny pushpin sized key in an almost invisible spot to release the catch and open the drawer.
I am a one man shop and I have never worked with anyone before. I have always said that I am a completely self taught woodworker, but after working with someone of Jack’s caliber, and being able to watch someone of his knowledge and confidence, I probably can no longer make that claim.
Creating this cabinet was a great experience for me. We have since made a Federal Period game table at his shop. I will post that one soon.
Thanks for looking,
-- John, Chisel and Bit Custom Crafted Furniture, www.chiselandbit.com