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2 x 4 coopered cabinet

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Project by DHS posted 700 days ago 1996 views 8 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just joined my local woodworker’s association and the meeting this week includes a classic challenge – build something beautiful out of an 8-ft construction-grade 2×4. I recently read James Krenov’s book The Fine Art of Cabinet Making and, inspired by his description of a coopered cabinet, I decided to make one from this 2×4. Now, it occurred to me that Krenov might roll over in his grave at the idea that someone would copy his cabinet using a 2×4 but then I thought, maybe he could use the exercise.

I ripped sections of the 2×4 into 3/4” x 1.5” wide lengths and then ripped those at a 5 degree angle and glued them up to make the curved door. I probably should have glued them up in several parts, but I only had one day in the shop to finish the cabinet so I clamped all the pieces together in my end vise and draped SCUBA weight belts over the top to keep the whole curved structure aligned. It worked! I then planed the door to create a smooth, rounded surface. I also rounded the cabinet sides and cut a curved top and bottom to match the curve of the door. Krenov used dowels to hold his cabinet together, but I decided to experiment with sliding dovetails. My first. They worked OK, but next time perhaps I’ll get a tighter fit if I’m more patient. I had some material left over so I built a small shelf and carved a little door pull.

I finished the cabinet with a coat of paste wax that I thought would allow an unhindered view of the exquisite grain of this $1.53 2×4 from Lowes. You know, hardware included, this cabinet cost only ten bucks. I might start making more of my projects from this stuff.

-- Dave S., Bellingham, WA





22 comments so far

View MathewBounville's profile

MathewBounville

4 posts in 1059 days


#1 posted 700 days ago

That’s awesome! Nice to see what one can do with simple 2×4s.

View patron's profile

patron

13020 posts in 1977 days


#2 posted 700 days ago

just right

what a great build

what final dimensions did you get

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View DHS's profile

DHS

111 posts in 1860 days


#3 posted 700 days ago

Hmmm… I didn’t do much measuring when I built this, let’s see…. I’ts about 14 inches tall, 10 inches wide, and about 4.5 inches deep.

-- Dave S., Bellingham, WA

View patron's profile

patron

13020 posts in 1977 days


#4 posted 700 days ago

thanks dave

it is bigger than i thought
a very useful size actually

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Monte Pittman's profile (online now)

Monte Pittman

13850 posts in 974 days


#5 posted 700 days ago

Pretty impressive build. Once again showing that regardless of wood type, it’s still the skill of the craftsman that makes a project.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View Wdwerker's profile

Wdwerker

332 posts in 870 days


#6 posted 700 days ago

Very creative use of a 2×4. I love seeing this sort of project, great ideas for 8/4 hardwood scrap in my cabinet shop.Now if I only had more time to work on my own projects…...

-- Fine Custom Woodwork since 1978

View nuttree's profile

nuttree

244 posts in 1960 days


#7 posted 700 days ago

VEry nice indeed – looks like you got your $10 worth :)

-- I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. -John Muir

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

5562 posts in 2065 days


#8 posted 700 days ago

I have long admired the design of that Krenov cabinet. You have rendered it exquisitly. And, as Monte so correctly observed, your craftsmanship elevates the materials.
Truely a beautiful piece.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View joewilliams's profile

joewilliams

88 posts in 761 days


#9 posted 700 days ago

How did you smooth the inside of the curved door?

-- Joe - - - something witty should go here - - -

View DHS's profile

DHS

111 posts in 1860 days


#10 posted 700 days ago

Joe – That is a very good question. I attempted to plane it by using a hand plane with a cambered blade, but that did not work well at all. (I think I’d need to build a plane with a curved sole that matched the inside radius.) So, I cheated. I used my random-orbital sander and held it at an angle so that the curvature of the sanding disk matched the inside of the door and sanded for a very long time. (It might have only been a few minutes, but I hate sanding so it seemed like a really long time.) In time I managed to get the inside reasonably smooth.

-- Dave S., Bellingham, WA

View joewilliams's profile

joewilliams

88 posts in 761 days


#11 posted 700 days ago

Don’t recall what it’s called but I imagine one of those curved spoke shave thingys could do that too. I also wonder if there is some sort of tricky router jig that could be made to do this? I suppose a curved cabinet scraper for the final passes before hand sanding? Your ROS solution got the job done!

-- Joe - - - something witty should go here - - -

View BTimmons's profile

BTimmons

2117 posts in 1121 days


#12 posted 700 days ago

Fantastic work! It’s good to see that you don’t always have to shell out the big bucks on fancy lumber to make something really nice.

-- Brian Timmons - http://www.BigTWoodworks.com

View DHS's profile

DHS

111 posts in 1860 days


#13 posted 700 days ago

Hi Joe – Yeah, as I was sanding the inside of the door I was thinking, “I wish I knew how to use a spokeshave.”

-- Dave S., Bellingham, WA

View Michael Wilson's profile

Michael Wilson

587 posts in 1127 days


#14 posted 700 days ago

Nicely done. That’s a beautiful piece.

View joewilliams's profile

joewilliams

88 posts in 761 days


#15 posted 700 days ago

spokeshave – Yeah…me too. Maybe I should get one first!

-- Joe - - - something witty should go here - - -

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