|Project by Bill||posted 01-01-2008 08:46 PM||8328 views||10 times favorited||19 comments|
My latest project was to build a TV stand to match a customer’s existing entertainment center (the two vertical cabinets in the first picture are the originals, mine is the middle section under the TV). The basic structure was simple, a cabinet that had 2 drawers in the middle, raised panel doors on each end, and a design that matched the existing cabinets. While it seemed simple enough, there were many challenges along the way. However, the end results were worth it.
First, the height and width of the stand was designed to support a 60” tv, so again no real problem. Just simply make a box big enough. But, I went about it a bit differently. I made the base out of poplar, with supports in the middle. Then I attached a piece of plywood on top to make the base of the cabinet. So far so good.
Next, I decided to add internal supports inside the cabinet, and cover the outside with plywood. These inside supports were simple squares, that I attached with screws to the base, and then attached together at the tops to form a box. This would allow me to attach the sides without screws showing, and add extra support for the top. Plus, the top would now have a nice support to attach to as well.
The sections with the doors needed to have sides added to match the existing cabinets. I attached these, again with no screws showing (screwed in from the back side of the plywood through the poplar supports). I elected to skip the back pieces, and proceed with the outside edges.
The next step was to add Red Oak trim around the edges of the sides and back to support the plywood. A little work on the router made this easy enough to complete. Still no major problems, ok, that is a good thing. As this was my first real cabinet job, I thought I was doing pretty well at this point. Ok, now I should know trouble is coming soon.
After the basic cabinet is complete, it is time to begin the front. Again, I use Red Oak to build the front frame. A few minor off measurements, nothing that does not happen to all of us. But, work is still proceeding well. To help move things along, I cut the raised panels for the doors, check for the basic sizes, and then lay the pieces aside (hmm, nothing so far or so I thought). I then continue with the frame, cutting and matching up each section. I build a middle frame to go between the drawers, glue it together and set it aside. Things are still looking good at this point.
I had previously finished the inside of the cabinet before assembly, since it would be difficult to reach. I also did not want to deal with the glue issues, so finish was a good idea. Since it was on the inside, I did not stain it, but simply applied the varnish. Then I notice the color is not the same as the existing cabinets. Ok, so it is inside so it does not really matter. But, the outside will be a problem. So, I head to the local big box store, and pick up some stain. I thought Mission Oak in a very light coat would do. I also have some traditional cherry and golden oak stains, so I should be able to use one of those to make the cabinets match. Hmm, tricky, but it should work. I also pick up the drawer slides and return to work. The rest of the hardware I had ordered online, and was already here.
I built the drawers out of 1/2” thick poplar, with dovetails to match the existing drawers. These came out well., so I proceed with the making the doors. I had cut the rails and stiles ahead of time, and left them a little big for later trimming. The raised panels had been glued up using my Festool Domino to join the boards together. The grains matched really well and I was feeling quite pleased with myself. I cut the raised panels on my table saw, again a nice look. I then start to stain the frame pieces and panels and call it a day.
When I returned, I decided to check the panels against the customer’s existing cabinets. Wow, the stain did not match! Their cabinets had a distinct yellow hue, while the Mission Oak was definitely brown even with the thin coat I applied. Ok, not to worry, I can sand the panels again and then re-stain them and the frame again. I take a small piece from the customer to use as a match, and head back to the shop. I sand all the pieces down again, and then take a scrap piece to dry various stains. None of them match, and mixing the stains is no help either. Finally, I head to the local paint store and have them mix up a special stain to allow this Red Oak to match their existing cabinets. A few hours later, I have a stain that looks like a yellow highlighter. But, they had stained the scrap piece I gave them and showed me it matched. So, back to the shop.
With my new stain in hand, I began on the frame pieces first. It was a bright yellow stain, but with just a light application and much rubbing, it was working. Once the pieces were stained, I proceeded with the cabinet. It was Red Oak plywood, and came out a bit more yellow than with the frame pieces. Some light sanding cured that, and I began applying the finish. Work on the doors stopped while the finish dried.
When I was able to return to the doors, I received another rude surprise. I had cut the panels the right size, but not the right way for the grain. To fit into the rails and stiles, the grain would be running sideways instead of up and down. Ok, so no problem, just make some more panels, recut them, and then finish them.
My second set of raised panels was assembled like the first, with dominos and glue for a set of nicely matched panels. When I cut them to size and the make the raised panels, parts of the domino’s show through. Arrgh, I had not allowed enough space from the ends to the dominos to account for the beveled edge. Ok, so I make a third set of panels, and use biscuits instead. However, I make the same mistake again! The biscuits show through the bevel. On to a fourth set of panels, with biscuits that are places well away from the edges. Finally, the panels come out ok. I stain and finish them, and then assemble the doors. Finally, the cabinet was finished.
Ok, so this was a bit of a long winded story to say I built my first cabinet, matched stain and finish to an existing cabinet set, and then delivered the cabinet a month later than planed. Despite all the challenges, the results were worth it. I am actually looking forward to building more cabinets in the future, just not in quite the same way.
-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com