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Where can I find reference material (books, plans, etc.) for building old style cabinets?

by brian310207
posted 10-08-2012 09:33 AM


31 replies so far

View schroeder's profile

schroeder

681 posts in 2871 days


#1 posted 10-08-2012 12:06 PM

Hi Brian,
The cabinets your looking to build are actually stand alone pieces of furniture. Lumberjacks is a great place for techniques, design and advice. Anyone here would be glad to help. Any woodworking store or Amazon will have reference books. I suggest you look at “stckley” or craftsman designs and methods. Sketchup, YouTube and the video forums here are great references as well.

Hope this helps.
Schroeder

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View huff's profile

huff

2810 posts in 2031 days


#2 posted 10-08-2012 12:41 PM

Brian,

Check out shaker style furniture also. Schroeder is right, these cabinets were designed to look like a base to a hutch or dry sink, but with all the modern accessories. The base cabinets have more of a furniture base instead of the regular toe kick that we see with regular kitchen cabinets. The doors and drawers are inset and it looked like they used regular mortised butt hinges. I would venture to guess that instead of using wood on wood drawer slides like in that time period of furniture, I’m sure they are using a more modern mechanical slide. How you actually construct the cabinets would be up to you with your level of building experience and tools. As you can tell, the big difference from this type cabinet/furniture compared to a lot of todays cabinets is: WOOD! If you build your cabinets like the originals, then the sides, bottoms, backs, shelves and everything would be made of wood, where in todays construction, plywood or melamine would be used for the interior construction and only use wood for the face frames, doors and drawer fronts. It will be up to you how much you want to blend the old with the new. Just like if you look at the kitchen in the picture. Even though the cabinets look old as far as style, hardware and finish, it’s hard to say what the interiors are made with. Electric coffee maker, track lighting, modern plumbing, marble/granite countertops and a slew of other modern conveinences show how you can blend old with new. Good luck and let us know how you make out.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1715 days


#3 posted 10-08-2012 08:18 PM

I really like that old farmhouse kitchen. You can tell it’s English by the jar of Nescafé and the Fairy Liquid at the sink.
Probably constructed using wide planks, but essentially a face frame construction – the face frame will all be mortice and tenon (you can see where it’s pegged), and although you may think it was lovingly crafted, I’d put money on it that there are a whole load of triangular blocks holding it together with slotted steel screws.
If you are going all wood, you can buy 8×4 sheets of laminated pine to make the carcases, which would speed it up a great deal.
If you are looking for authentic ways of working, try George Ellis, Modern Practical Joinery – though there are only a few pages devoted to cabinet construction – it’s all rabbet joints.

View brian310207's profile

brian310207

16 posts in 1216 days


#4 posted 10-08-2012 08:39 PM

Thanks for the input everyone. Renners, I’m curious as to what other methods exist besides face frame construction for cabinet making.

I found a couple of books which look like they might be helpful, one of which I bought and one which I found in the local library’s “card catalog” :

Four Centuries of American Furniture

The Encyclopedia of Furniture

-- Brian, Maine, http://digital-traffic.net

View Loren's profile

Loren

7822 posts in 2394 days


#5 posted 10-08-2012 08:46 PM

Those are face frame cabinets. The frames are mortised and pegged.

Lacking machinery you’ll want to look at hand tool furniture construction
methods. You’ll need a solid and flat bench to do the dimensioning
of parts.

Books on reproducing Shaker casework would be a good place to
start. Books published before the 1960s won’t assume you
have access to machinery.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Moron's profile

Moron

4724 posts in 2640 days


#6 posted 10-08-2012 10:19 PM

You might consider going to an antique flea market, and adapting oldies to fit as you can most often buy something for less then the price of materials ? Even if if you buy something smaller, at least you have a reference for building what you want.

That said, the local library will have countless books on making face framed cabinets and early american furniture, as will U tube and google

Albeit HD and Lowes sells what most can afford, doesnt mean that modular cabinetry is junk, as melamines, plywoods, hardware, and methodology are not created equally in that you can build functional, high quality boxes with flawless hardware and make the “fronts” look as old as Noahs Ark

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View huff's profile

huff

2810 posts in 2031 days


#7 posted 10-08-2012 10:42 PM

Brian,

To answer your question about what other type cabinet construction other than face frame cabinets. Euro style cabinets don’t use a face frame on the cabinet. The doors and drawer fronts totally overlay the front of the cabinets. This usually gives a more contemporary look.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View Moron's profile

Moron

4724 posts in 2640 days


#8 posted 10-08-2012 10:45 PM

Yo Huff, thats not entirely true as it is absolutely possible to make old world cabinets with euro technology, you just have to apply thinking that is slightly out of the “Box”

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View JJohnston's profile

JJohnston

1593 posts in 2037 days


#9 posted 10-08-2012 10:54 PM

Anybody know what those copper discs with handles are, hanging over the sink?

-- "Sometimes even now, when I'm feeling lonely and beat, I drift back in time, and I find my feet...Down on Main Street." - Bob Seger

View huff's profile

huff

2810 posts in 2031 days


#10 posted 10-08-2012 11:05 PM

Moron, you’re right. I’ve seen a few antique pieces of furniture that the doors and drawer fronts were actually inset with nothing other than the sides and top and bottom stringers exposed, but I guess I was thinking more down the line of todays cabinetry that we see more often. Anyway; Brian, if you like the style of the cabinets in the picture, then you will be building cabinets with face frames.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View Moron's profile

Moron

4724 posts in 2640 days


#11 posted 10-08-2012 11:06 PM

lids ?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View OggieOglethorpe's profile

OggieOglethorpe

907 posts in 856 days


#12 posted 10-08-2012 11:21 PM

Read up on inset drawers and doors, and mortised hinges, in solid wood face frames.

Unless you’re shooting for historical reproduction accuracy, and in the wrong home, this can actually HURT the value…

As far as boxes go, the plywood boxes used today are actually a preferable way to go, unless you enjoy spending lots of time for no gain. Once upon a time, cabinets were built in place, of solid wood. While that sounds romantic, glue and fastener technology has progressed to a point where composite boxes with solid wood face frames and doors are a better choice, performance-wise.

In the case of cabinetry, it’s usually better to use modern material in the boxes, like prefinished plywood, and to make the exterior LOOK old, than to truly duplicate old construction. There is lots of nice, reproduction hardware available today , from places like Horton Brasses, that Euro hardware is not a must.

Furniture is a different story, but you asked about cabinets.

View Moron's profile

Moron

4724 posts in 2640 days


#13 posted 10-08-2012 11:28 PM

it would have been of no consequence to build this vanity using beat up barn board to create a face frame with drawer fronts and doors that looked like it was really old, while still incorporating hardware that is flawless, comes with out the aggravation of fighting old fashioned “wood on wood” drawer slides and hinges that are unforgiving, while still maintaining “units” of cabinetry that go beyond that of most fine furniture and leave behind an interior that is not only functional but easy to keep clean.

that said, for some weird reason, I find comfort in antiques where only experience can close a drawer and my soul feels at home : ))

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View OggieOglethorpe's profile

OggieOglethorpe

907 posts in 856 days


#14 posted 10-08-2012 11:34 PM

Moron,

I would have built that vanity exactly the same, except with mortised leaf hinges on the doors. I really like Blum undermount slides.

My main beef with adjustable cup hinges is how often I see maladjusted doors a year or two later. I’ve seen inset doors on mortise hinges that still have even gaps 90-100 years later.

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1715 days


#15 posted 10-08-2012 11:36 PM

Anybody know what those copper discs with handles are, hanging over the sink?

They could be bed warmers.

View Moron's profile

Moron

4724 posts in 2640 days


#16 posted 10-08-2012 11:50 PM

Pewter Butt Hinges throughout.

No Modular Cabinets, Single face frames make for big ass cabinets and the bigger the piece of furniture, the bigger the error becomes for installation madness. Thus why the europeans invented cabinet making for dummies : ))

I would very cautious

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile

Moron

4724 posts in 2640 days


#17 posted 10-08-2012 11:58 PM

doing it and talking about it are different. Experience is tough to gain.

face framing something is a matter of opinion in that a hammer and a few nails and some semi straight stock can be whacked onto just about anything and made to look like everything antique is ?

making a kitchen that is better then most furniture we buy, where doors work pretty darn good for a hundred years or more ………..aint that simple : ))

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile

Moron

4724 posts in 2640 days


#18 posted 10-09-2012 12:03 AM

bed warmers ?

what a great idea, even if they are not what they appear to be

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View brian310207's profile

brian310207

16 posts in 1216 days


#19 posted 10-09-2012 01:32 AM

Well, I’ve made some headway on the design. Here’s what I’ve got so far; I’d love to know what you think:

The opening on the upper-right is for a farm house / apron style sink. I’m a bit worried about the lack of support under a fairly long span, but I added a third support leg in the middle and it looked quite horrible. What do you think… is that going to be a problem? I suppose I could try to find wood with the grain going perpendicular to the length of the wood for the rails, but that’s not going to be easy and I don’t know how much strength it would add.

-- Brian, Maine, http://digital-traffic.net

View huff's profile

huff

2810 posts in 2031 days


#20 posted 10-09-2012 01:54 AM

Brian,

Just a couple questions; what’s your overall width of the cabinet? I’m guessing around 60” from your drawing. What materials do you plan on using for the bottom of your cabinet and the back? Depending on your back material, if you plan on using 1/4” plywood, then you would want to have a stringer along the top back of your cabinet.( for both structual support, counter top support and something solid to screw your cabinet to the wall when installed). What will you be using for a counter top?

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View brian310207's profile

brian310207

16 posts in 1216 days


#21 posted 10-09-2012 02:08 AM

The width of the entire piece is 72”. I’m planning to use .75” thick stock for all sides. I’m thinking pine or poplar, but I’d be willing to go with something else if strength requires it. I’m still very new, idealistic and naive at this point. I have an aversion to anything other than real wood, probably because I’ve dealt with a lot of Ikea furniture in my life :-). I’m not sure how to deal with the warping problem. I know quarter sawn wood would make it less of an issue, but I feel like that would be a huge amount of money.

As for the countertop, I believe that will be maple.

-- Brian, Maine, http://digital-traffic.net

View Moron's profile

Moron

4724 posts in 2640 days


#22 posted 10-09-2012 02:10 AM

a farm sink is heavy. Very heavy. Often casted meaning no two are exactly the same and even if they are need serious support under them. I used to make the customer deliver the sink b4 I committed to making the cabinet to ensure i would put my name on it…….very heavy : )) Some might laugh at angle iron and argue the merits of wood but pick your poison, both work to support a sink of unbearable weight

the face frame works for me, the cabinet is nothing more then ego buried behind what no one will c

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View huff's profile

huff

2810 posts in 2031 days


#23 posted 10-09-2012 02:35 AM

Brian,

You might want to modify your design just a little to make sure you can handle the weight of the farm sink since your spanning almost 6’ without any support in the middle to carry the weight to the floor. Since you’re doing a post leg construction on the outside corners, you could put another post leg in the middle and that would carry all the weight without worry about sagging, especially if you plan on doing inset doors and drawer fronts. Inset doors and drawers don’t allow much allowance for cabinet movement. Like CessnaPilotBarry said in post #12; even though you would prefer doing everything in solid wood, you would probably be better off working with a good quality cabinet plywood for the bottom, center divider and I would even do the end panels daddoed into the post. Post legs, face frames, doors and drawers and drawer fronts with solid wood.

Do you plan to have a drawer in the cabinet?

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View brian310207's profile

brian310207

16 posts in 1216 days


#24 posted 10-09-2012 08:05 PM

I’m not planning on a drawer at this time, just a big cabinet on the left. I modified the design a bit so that there is some support under the base. I think this will also help keep dust and other such nastiness from collecting under it.

Is this likely to be able to support the weight? I will, of course need to put some extra support directly under where the sink is going to mount. I just haven’t gotten that far yet.

-- Brian, Maine, http://digital-traffic.net

View OggieOglethorpe's profile

OggieOglethorpe

907 posts in 856 days


#25 posted 10-09-2012 08:45 PM

“Pewter Butt Hinges throughout.”

Outstanding work!

View huff's profile

huff

2810 posts in 2031 days


#26 posted 10-09-2012 08:51 PM

Brian,

Good design. That should carry your weight and finish it off well. Looks like you’re good to go. You will be able to decide on your support for the sink once you have the sink and see what you need and get exact dimensions.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View Moron's profile

Moron

4724 posts in 2640 days


#27 posted 10-10-2012 12:19 AM

If its a cast iron, porcelain sink, you might consider adding a rail ( like a 1×4 hardwood) behind the drain of the sink as the sink is brought forward more then typical sinks. You might also consider adding hieght to the front rail and width at the stiles that join the sides of the sink because you often have to scribe the sides to fit the radiuses at the bottom edges of the sink.

The back rail can be made lower and use shims to level the sink

I always have the sink on hand before commencing the build to get dimensions from the sink as dimensions often change from mfg., specs to actual sizes.

That front rail that holds the sink, has to be very well joined as even the slightest deflection over time will cause the doors to rub.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View brian310207's profile

brian310207

16 posts in 1216 days


#28 posted 10-10-2012 02:28 AM

Moron, I was thinking the same thing with regards to the rail and stiles around the sink. I will, of course, be adding a lot of support around it, but without having it I don’t have much to reference. As for the joinery, I’m thinking mortise and tenon for the vast majority of the joints. I could drawbore them if necessary, but I’m betting a good mortise and tenon with modern glue should create a very sturdy joint, and drawboring might be a little too much stress on such small stock. Maybe I’ll do some test joints just for the heck of it; it’ll give me practice anyway.

-- Brian, Maine, http://digital-traffic.net

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1268 posts in 1043 days


#29 posted 10-11-2012 01:49 PM

Realize I’m late to the party, but look at the furniture and cabinets of David T. Smith.

https://www.davidtsmith.com/newsite/custom_kit.asp

What I like is that some of his kitchens look like they were built over time, with some built in’s looking like stand alone pieces. My own kitchen is just a few built ins (sink base and cabinets flanking stove) and the rest is Napannee and Sellers cabinet, rolling butcher block and open bookcase type shelving. Cabinet over the sink was made using old 9 pane wavy glass windows as doors to display old dishware.

View brian310207's profile

brian310207

16 posts in 1216 days


#30 posted 10-11-2012 01:55 PM

Thanks for the link. I’ve seen one of his kitchens and I was inspired by it greatly (that’s where I got the idea for a maple countertop). It’s nice to know there’s more that I can look at.

-- Brian, Maine, http://digital-traffic.net

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1268 posts in 1043 days


#31 posted 10-11-2012 09:49 PM

I have his furniture book, too Brian. Lot’s of nice pieces.

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