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My first REAL cabinetmaking project. #1: The Question, The Plan, and The First Problem.

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Blog entry by TroutGuy posted 04-17-2008 10:52 PM 1025 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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My first real cabinetmaking project started as a simple “Can you make a new frame for the medicine cabinet mirror, dear?”, from my wife. “No problem!”, I replied. The time I have spent here at LJ has convinced me that I not only CAN do it, but that I SHOULD do it! In fact, I SHOULD make a whole new medicine cabinet – a bigger, better medicine cabinet! [Insert Tim Taylor ‘grunt’ here.]

I took some measurements, did a little cypherin’, spent a few hours in TurboCAD and voila, I had ‘The Plan’. Cool! Now I need lumber. After a strangely ‘tangential’ series of mouse clicks, I found myself at www.tcwoods.com. This is a local sawmill that uses a lot of ‘urban lumber’ – they are also a tree care company. If you’re in the area, check them out. [CAUTION: DO NOT go there in a pickup truck, unless you have an empty woodshed!]

After spending an hour at the sawmill, totally entranced by the wide variety of choices, I selected this nice two-tone slab of silver maple, 11” – 13” wide x 75” long x 15/16” thick. The thing that drew me to this particular slab, was that it was showing some ‘curly’ figure. Not ‘highly figured’, but enough to make it interesting.

Step 2, rough milling. I called a friend, who has just what I need (bandsaw and jointer) to turn the slab into stock. Unfortunately, his shop was “closed for remodeling”, and I really couldn’t wait a couple of months… To make a long story short, I found myself on the phone, with my daughter’s boyfriend’s father (a fellow woodworker). He didn’t have what I needed in his shop either. However, he said that he was taking a woodworking class at the community college, and that if I could bring the slab in on an ‘open shop’ night, we could get it done. Needless to say, I accepted his gracious offer!

A couple of nights later, I met him at the college’s wood shop. Sure enough, they had what we needed, and then some! Nice, well equipped shop, although dust collection could be better. A couple of hours later, after a little sawing and resawing, a bit of jointing, and some drum sanding, I have lumber that I can work with, in my small shop. Way cool! Thanks, Mr. L.

The only problem all evening, was the resawing of the top section. I planned to bookmatch the halves for the back panel of the cabinet. Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly), the halves warped quite a bit after resawing. We ran them through the drum sander (to ~1/4” thick), and it helped, but didn’t remove all of the warpage. No way I can use them for the back panel, ‘as is’. Uh oh. Back to the drawing board…

For reference, the two halves are ~10” x 30” ea. I need to end up with a panel ~16” x 24”. I can adjust the design to work with a panel up to 3/8” thick….MAYBE 1/2”.

Help me out here, LJs!

Here’s my ‘New Plan’.

1) Sand the halves down even thinner (3/16” or less). I’d run them through my planer, but I don’t want to blow the knots out.
2) Glue them to a 1/4” MDF or hardboard substrate, as a bookmatched veneer.
3) Re-sand, as needed.

Questions:

1) I’ve heard that you’re supposed to veneer both sides of a panel. Is that still true when the substrate is MDF (i.e.stable)?
2) Would something other than MDF/hardboard make a better substrate?

Thanks in advance, LJ’s!

-- There is nothing in the world more dangerous, than a woodworker who knows how to read a micrometer...



7 comments so far

View Les Hastings's profile

Les Hastings

1284 posts in 2527 days


#1 posted 04-18-2008 12:29 AM

MDF will work fine, but,,,,,,,,yes you will have to veneer both sides or the piece will curl.

-- Les, Wichita, Ks. (I'd rather be covered in saw dust!)

View TroutGuy's profile

TroutGuy

223 posts in 2465 days


#2 posted 04-18-2008 12:58 AM

Even if it’s ‘tied down’?

-- There is nothing in the world more dangerous, than a woodworker who knows how to read a micrometer...

View Les Hastings's profile

Les Hastings

1284 posts in 2527 days


#3 posted 04-18-2008 02:15 AM

Depends on what you mean by tied down? If you are using it for the back panel only the edges will be secured, Right? It will still cup in the middle of the panel, maybe not enough to hurt any thing. If you want it to stay as flat as possible, veneer the back. If your ok with the inside back having some warpage to then don’t worry about veneering the back side of the panel.

Me,,,,,I’d veneer the back side to.

-- Les, Wichita, Ks. (I'd rather be covered in saw dust!)

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8791 posts in 2853 days


#4 posted 04-18-2008 06:41 AM

My spalted maple bookcase was shop sawn veneer 1/8 of an inch thick. After glue up you can send the panels through the sander, do it evenly on both sides (as much as possible.)

The panels have to be veneered both sides or they will curl. They had to be done both sides for this project because of the visual aspect anyway.

The great thing about veneer being 1/8” is that you can easily glue the edges together. 1/8” is also able to be run on the jointer. I had great success doing this but I might offer a word of caution, if you don’t feel comfortable – don’t do it.

Black Walnut Bookcase

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8791 posts in 2853 days


#5 posted 04-18-2008 06:42 AM

With your wood finely sanded and finish applied, it will “pop” nicely.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View jjohn's profile

jjohn

390 posts in 2467 days


#6 posted 04-18-2008 01:39 PM

I know that you most likely don’t want to rip it into smaller pieces, but that is one way to stop the cupping, but they say to flip every other piece over so the rings are up on the first, down on the second, and so on. That would take away the cupping, but also the mirror face LOL. Anyway if you veneer the pieces you could also yield another two pieces by splitting them in half agian. More lumber to play with. Yeah ! You can veneer a piece down to a 16th pretty easy with the right tools. you could possibly get 3 pieces from each slab. That is, a straight board. Its really according to how bad they are cupping.

-- JJohn

View TroutGuy's profile

TroutGuy

223 posts in 2465 days


#7 posted 04-19-2008 06:51 PM

Okay, I hear you. I’m going to have to veneer both sides of the panel.

Now the question becomes, “Do I have to use the same kind of veneer on both sides?”

The back of the cabinet will not be visible, so I really don’t care what it looks like (within reason).

For example, can I veneer one side with 1/8” maple and the other side with 1/8” plywood/MDF/poplar/???

Is the ‘cupping problem’ related to the glue line, or the wood itself?

-- There is nothing in the world more dangerous, than a woodworker who knows how to read a micrometer...

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