A Little Cabinetree #5: Assembly (and a little setback)

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 11-25-2010 03:43 AM 1965 reads 1 time favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Leaves to Dye For (From) Part 5 of A Little Cabinetree series Part 6: Some Pitfalls in the Process »

Don’t you just hate it when this happens !!

Today was supposed to be the day I finished this project. Tomorrow I was hoping to get it to the photographer’s. The next day I was going to post the completed cabinet. Oh well, maybe next week.

As I was finishing up sanding for what I hoped would be the last coat of wb poly on the box, I noticed a little flaw and thought I should probably sand it out. Well, apparently, I probably shouldn’t have. As I sanded the finish thin, it started to lift a little at the feather edge, so I pulled a little, then a little more. The piece in the foreground came off like 2 mil poly off a roll. After peeling the rest of the top I contacted the supplier to see what I had done wrong. Apparently the bond between the spray can poly and the wb poly can take several days to mature and if I had not messed with it it would most likely have been fine once the finish really hardened. .... Damn. The good news is that the dye was not affected so I’m set back a few days and about $25 worth of finish, but the piece will (may) survive.

Enough of my complaining. On with the job.


This segment is not as sexy as the leaf dying stuff but it is a critical part of the job. This is where the alignments that will make or break the piece are made. Because the miters and the hinges are already fitted and can’t be adjusted, it becomes absolutely critical that the veneers go on to the MDF parts with precision. A small movement of a veneer on a panel while being pressed in the vacuum bag and one of the grain matches on a corner will be off or worse the panel crossing inlays won’t line up. There’s really no fixing that. So this photo shows after careful positioning of the part on it’s veneer it is taped in place to prevent movement.

In this one you can see alignment marks in the hinge recesses to double check alignment after the vacuum is applied.

Once out of the press the miters are re-trimmed exactly on the MDF line.

After veneering the outsides the side and door panels must have the veneer chips harvested out of their recesses to be installed on the ends of the corresponding hinge segment in the opposing part. Here they are being fitted in thier new positions. They were marked for re-positioning before being removed. I used the scroll saw to remove them.

Now the inside veneers have been applied and all the interior finishing has been done . Here the parts are laid out in assembly position insides up. The tape was to mask the glue areas before spraying.

I assemble the miter box by first aligning the back and side panels to a straight line at the top and then, with the sharp edges tight together, I tape them with packing tape.

Then, after applying glue, I stand it up and pull the front edges together until the miters are square. The packing tape squeezes the outside edges and prevents glue from escaping onto the outside veneer.

Last to be done are the top and bottom. They are glued down with clamps. There is not a lot of pressure on these clamps but it is vital that all the sharp miter edges are in complete contact. Here the top is being glued in. The bottom is not a miter. It fits up inside in a rebate. There is no metal or fastening other than glue used here.

Finally, when it’s all glued up and it is still in alignment, grain and inlays, you can relax those butt cheeks you’ve been squeezing for the last couple of weeks.

It’s been a long day. I’m done.

Thanks as always and you know the rules: questions, comments critiques welcome as always.

Happy Thanksgiving to my neighbors to the South. And Alaska too.

Thanks again


-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

17 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3083 days

#1 posted 11-25-2010 05:39 AM

bummer , sorry for you and glad it can be fixed
thank´s for sharing the experience , not that I know what poly is
in the way I don´t think I have seen it here
but the day I ran over it I realy will preciate this Blog you have done

take care

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4045 days

#2 posted 11-25-2010 06:24 AM

ooops…you may have to switch a few project titles…”OOOPS II”...

this is getting close…must be fun to learn NEW things…that is what I love about wood working…its all problem solving…too bad it is not being kept in schools…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Schwieb's profile


1857 posts in 3429 days

#3 posted 11-25-2010 02:15 PM


Please clarify for me what wb poly is. The weak bond between the coats is interesting. Won’t we obsessive compulsive types ever learn? It drove me crazy how long it took for the resin to cure on the kayak.

Veneering is something that I know very little about, but I have always been intrigued with. I gather that when you say press that what I am seeing is a vacuum press and the clear plastic is the membrane of the press. Bet they give those presses away too don’t they?

Glue-ups can be stressful, and with mitered corners really so. I like using the packing tape for the corners to keep the aligned and protect from glue. Being clear allows you to see the joint. Apparently you didn’t have a problem with tearing up wood fibers when you removed the tape. Very interesting.

Thanks for taking the time to photograph and post this. After a brief session on the kayak this morning I am in the car for a 2 1/2 hour drive to my mother-in-law’s for a family gathering. No more workshop, but I have a lot to be thankful for and this is good.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View tdv's profile


1188 posts in 3038 days

#4 posted 11-25-2010 02:42 PM

Paul that is absolutely stunning workmanship it’s a work of art
Thanks for sharing your experience I’ve learnt a lot

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View SPalm's profile


5317 posts in 3850 days

#5 posted 11-25-2010 03:13 PM

This has been really fun to watch. You do amazing work.
And I appreciate it when you are willing to show problems and solutions along the way.
Your cheeks deserve a break.

I just wanted to let you know I was watching, and say thanks for the blog,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Maveric777's profile


2693 posts in 3044 days

#6 posted 11-25-2010 03:26 PM

This “Bad Boy” is coming along Awesome Paul! I’m actually a little giddy looking forward to seeing the finished product.

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4214 days

#7 posted 11-25-2010 04:27 PM


-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3053 days

#8 posted 11-25-2010 05:48 PM

Thanks for sharing the problem and the fix, now all I have to do is learn patience, oh well maybe manana.
Happy Thanksgiving day.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View shipwright's profile


7966 posts in 2766 days

#9 posted 11-25-2010 06:19 PM

Thanks everyone.
Dennis and Ken, wb poly is just my contraction for water-based polyurethane. I’m using one from Target Coatings that is water clear, 30% solids and hard as nails when cured.(note to self: nails don’t peel like sheet plastic so it wasn’t cured.)
Ken, Yes it is the vacuum bag that you see but they’re not as pricey as you might think. I made my own from these instructions: and I can apply literally tons of pressure (over an area). I have two vinyl bags, the larger of which once held my 42” x 86” front door.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3083 days

#10 posted 11-25-2010 07:29 PM

thank´s for the explanation Poul

take care

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 2986 days

#11 posted 11-25-2010 08:36 PM

This is very fascinating, thanks for posting!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1106 posts in 2942 days

#12 posted 11-26-2010 03:00 AM

How did you do this with all the snow flying around.
I can’t get anywhere near the garage…and it is too darn cold

BTW cool looking and I agree to the fascinating comment

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View Schwieb's profile


1857 posts in 3429 days

#13 posted 12-02-2010 01:38 PM

Paul, Thank you so much for the JoeWoodworker lead. I’m already gathering materials to build one. I have an aquaintance from a local turning club I belong to that has a huge supply of all sorts of veneers, I’m talking huge. He is the only person I know that does marquetry and veneering. He wants someone to receive his extensive collection because he is older now and able to do very little shopwork any more. He estimated that there was more than $15,000 worth of exotics alone. When I went to visit him awhile back, he loaded me up with a bunch of it to try my hand at it and demonstrated the method of cutting the bevel. Even showed me how to make the fret saw and cutting table. I couldn’t imaging accepting such a gift without really having the ability to work with it. With your help, I’m on my way again.

Thanks for a fascinating (and inspiring) post.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View shipwright's profile


7966 posts in 2766 days

#14 posted 12-02-2010 06:37 PM

You are one lucky man Ken. You may be getting lots of PM’s from the envious. I can’t say enough about the Joe the Woodworker vacuum press plans. I use mine every day for something it seems. One tip – make a big bag. The materials are cheap and you can bag very small stuff in a big bag, not so much Visa versa. I have two, a heavier4’ x 8’ one and a lighter one about 2’ x 5’.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View shipwright's profile


7966 posts in 2766 days

#15 posted 12-07-2010 07:27 PM

Update: I’m still here and haven’t thrown the project in the woodstove or anything. I’ve resolved the peeling problem and am for all intents and purposes finished with it, but in the seemingly never ending learning curve of water-based coatings, I have a milky dullness that I think may need some time to clear before I do the final photos. The possible culprits include temperature, humidity, buildup, coat thickness and on and on but the supplier says that it will clear, so I wait.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

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