Roubo Cabinet #8: Dados and Partitions

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 05-20-2011 05:29 AM 3241 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Mitered Dovetails Part 8 of Roubo Cabinet series Part 9: Framed Backpanel »

I’ve got a carcase that needs to be divided into sections to house five drawers for hand tools at the Roubo. As is usually the case with my shop work, there are more efficient ways to put drawers in cabinets than the methods I’ve chosen. Part of the answer to that is this Cabinet will be matched up to a bench that, as a pair of shop tools, will be productive way beyond my time with both of them. The balance falls into the mantra ‘practice with a purpose.’ I build things for the shop using tools and joinery I’d like to use in the future on heirloom furniture for my kids. Heady stuff, right? So enough of that – on to the Update!

The first pair of dados will carry the main vertical partition; the one that defines and separates The Large Drawer from the three rows of drawers elsewhere on the cabinet’s face. And the first dado was cut by clamping down a stop across the top panel and cutting a pair of boundary lines with my 14” tenon saw for routing. A little cutting w/ a chisel, then the Stanley “Old Woman’s Tooth” kicked in.

That experience, ie: clamping and cutting alongside a stop to an imprecise depth, didn’t excite me much; that I had to chop alongside the saw lines was too much work and I used that method exactly one time. From that point it was ‘strike a deep line w/ an Exacto knife, then chop (deepen) those etched lines with a chisel.’ If I had the right sized #39 skew-angle dado plane, with sharp cutter and spurs, that’d be the dandy tool to use here. But, I don’t. sigh

Either way, with a depth that defined a nice track for the Stanley #71 router, there was a method for cutting all of the dado cuts needed in the cabinet (eight of them for those keeping score at home). The first picture shows the chopping being done w/ a vintage Everlasting; I did that to see if I missed the feel of hitting steel vs. the wood on wood of the 750 socket chisels. Wood won…

And a couple more routing pictures, with nice clean dados! Process was pretty successful after several rounds of it.

On the router, tried the v-blade first but went with the 3/8” (or 1/2”?) square blade after some fine honing on the 1200 diamond stone. With both dados cut (top and bottom panels), I re-assembled the carcase to mark and then cut a piece of partition panel to length and checked it for square.

Slid panel into carcase, and fit was snug (but not too much so). With partition in place, time to mark it at the top and bottom for a stopped (stepped) cut with an Exacto knife.

To cut each of these “step cuts” at either end of all four partitions, follow the pics below. With the face of the to-length partition etched, I clamped the partition into the bench for easy edge work

and chiseled (flicked, actually) the waste so the gents dovetail saw would have a nice edge to follow.

Depth was marked w/ the 6” combination square,

and cuts were made.

First panel / partition in, with pics of ‘step cuts’ revealed at the top and bottom.

Left-hand side panel needed a couple of dado cuts to handle the three rows of drawers (same as the new vertical partition). So I marked it,

scored the lines,

set those lines a little deeper with chisel and then did the router thing.

I did have a couple of partitions that were too tight for my liking (very hard to slide in and out – I was afraid they’d split!). I used a block plane and some wax to ease things along. Note that I didn’t apply wax to the front ends of any of the panels; the intent is to apply glue at these (dado-housed) leading ends to keep the partitions in place while allowing the rest of the panel to float (expand / contract) over time, uninhibited.

And now, once again, it’s time to leverage the power of the web and move this project forward at a rate that simply doesn’t convey the amount of effort required to actually get stuff done.
Each partition was cut to length, notched and fitted into a carcase that was ‘rough clamped’ to ensure sizing would indeed fit within the dimensions of a cabinet that is glued up and clamped tight. Yes, it was a bear doing all the inserts and re-inserts, but the end result is worth all of the effort.

The last pic in this chapter shows the in-work cabinet set on top of the bench that will house it when all is said and done. Note all of the clutter underneath… Ah, I can’t wait to get that space moved into the Productive column. Soon, I hope.

Next steps include fabricating a back panel as well as a frame and panel drawer front for The Big Drawer, and these will be unique challenges. Material selection is now a critical issue in that the donor table has little to offer in the way of quality pieces to be re-purposed. Especially for the back panel. I don’t want to depart from the walnut theme of this piece, so I’ll have to scrounge the woodpile for decent (not prime) material good for nothing but the back of a carcase. Additionally, I’d like the back panel to be floating; no metal fasteners (nails, brads, screws, etc) at all. Not that I intend to drag this thing through airport screening, but I want it so that if I wanted to… The mitered dovetails should enable me to cut a fully hidden dado if I want to go with a tongue and groove fit, but man that certainly complicates glue-up because the panel will have to be in place while the sides are drawn in tight at the dovetails. Yuck. With glue that is drying in place. Double Yuck. And the Big Drawer front will have a pull on its face, so it can’t be a thin panel. Triple Yuck! Oh, isn’t it fun to design on the fly? Make no mistake, it may seem like this is all thought out, but it’s an illusion. If I waited for all planning to be complete before cutting wood, nothing would get done. That would equal No Fun…

Thanks for reading!

EDIT: I have a combination of flickr and photo(scum)bucket images in this post. This will be addressed soon. Smitty

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

7 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15353 posts in 2617 days

#1 posted 05-20-2011 05:54 AM

All – Had extreme difficulty with Photobucket earlier this evening while trying to post this blog entry – if you received multiple notices of an update but couldn’t find the entry, sorry, but I deleted it until there was time to correct it by moving pics to Flickr. Not sure I like the photo sizes that are the defaults above, but I don’t know how to change them. Ah, isn’t technology grand???

And this Comment gets me to 100 posts in 54 days – Huzzah!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View kenn's profile


810 posts in 3719 days

#2 posted 05-20-2011 07:22 AM

Nice update Smitty. I’ve got some tricky dados to cut in a while and you’ve just complicated it for me with another alternative on how to cut them … Thanks. You’ll have your clutter cleared up soon.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2839 days

#3 posted 05-20-2011 01:02 PM

Smitty I commented on this once and uhh it disappeared. Oh well, very nicely done. I do like the widows tooth she is very nice. A wonderful carcase you have built by hand. Will she have a little hideaway in her somewhere? Great job.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15353 posts in 2617 days

#4 posted 05-20-2011 02:45 PM

@Super – Thanks very much for the ear worm, re: secret compartment… Now I will be aggravating myself even further by incorporating something! :-) It does make a lot of sense! Hmmm…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2653 days

#5 posted 05-20-2011 02:57 PM

I am the same way. I might make a sketch or something when I start but for the most part I find a logical place to start on a workpiece and I go from there.

Is that a Record knuckle-joint block plane? I have one just like it waiting for restore, did you notice some slop in the mouth adjustment when you got yours?

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15353 posts in 2617 days

#6 posted 05-20-2011 03:56 PM

@RG – Don’t know if I’ll ever learn sketch-up at this rate, but I’m probably one massive screw up away. :-)

That block plane in the pic is an old Craftsman knuckle joint, made (most likely) by Sargent from what I’ve been able to research on-line in the two years I’ve owned it. $12 at auction, and I love it ‘cept for the lack of a lateral adjustment lever. No slop in the mouth, and enough blade to last my lifetime, I think. Thanks for looking!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3672 days

#7 posted 05-20-2011 04:08 PM

Cabinet looks good!

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