Help Me Refine a Shaker Sideboard Design

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Forum topic by jdmaher posted 03-22-2012 05:13 PM 2383 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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437 posts in 2776 days

03-22-2012 05:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: design question

I’ve been putting off this project for a couple of years now, because I lack confidence in both my skills and my design. I have two large boards of well-figured 8/4 cherry that I’ve been hoarding for about 7 years, and I’m afraid to waste the material. They should be enough for most of this piece (though I’ll probably have to buy a bit of 4/4 and some plywood for the panels). Time to get going, though. My wife’s waited long enough.

This will be used as a cabinet to hold/hide electronic components. It will be placed next to a fireplace (flat screen above the mantle). Top will be left free for decorative “stuff” (flower baskets and what-all). It’s sized to use up virually all the space available, and is intenionally tall to complement the fireplace surround (overall, 52” wide x 38” tall).

I’d love to get some input on the design. I’d like general feedback, but I have a few aspects that I’m particularly worried about.

1. Face frame has no exterior stiles. I’m planning the face flush to front of the legs. But that means the left-most inset door will have hinges mounted to the leg. Am I buying trouble here?

2. Face frame interior stiles too wide? They are shown same width as legs (1.75”). I’ve done similiar configurations before, and “in the wood” the interior stiles always seem too wide. Maybe 1.25” or 1.5”?

3. Beveled lower edge to top. The top will be the full thickness of the 8/4 boards, but I believe I need to “lighten” the look. Question is, what’s the safe way to do this? I’m thinking tablesaw with a high auxilary fence will work for the length. But depth cut?

What else?

I’ll appreciate any feedback I can get.


-- Jim Maher, Illinois

10 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5797 posts in 3009 days

#1 posted 03-22-2012 05:32 PM

I left some compartments open on mine so the remotes to the stereo and dvd would work correctly. I considered the three door look at first, then switched to drawers in the center. There was something I didn’t like about the layout of the doorknobs when you have three doors.
I think 8/4 might look too heavy for the top on a sideboard. I reserve very heavy tops for large pieces like dining tables. I would either bevel 6/4 down to a 1” reveal, or better yet just plane the boards to 5/4 to make your top.
The scale in your drawing looks good.
I like 1.5” rails and stiles, anything wider tends to waste space.
As far as the rails attaching directly to the legs, that is a time honored technique and works fine. I like to create a 3/16” setback on the rails though, but that is just personal preference. The hinges may need a block of wood to be fully supported, but that is easy to do.
Good luck on the project!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View MattinCincy's profile


128 posts in 3349 days

#2 posted 03-22-2012 07:07 PM

I agree with everything pintodeluxe said. If you’re going to house electronics, you’ll need to open the doors in order to use the remotes unless you use some glass in the doors or make open shelves. Don’t forget about ventilation, too. You have to provide some way for heat to escape – vent holes in the back will work. I built a corner unit from QSWO recently and I had to consider the same things. I didn’t create any setbacks like pintodeluxe suggested, and I’m sorry I didn’t . The shadowlines created by offsetting planes really adds visual interest. Be sure to post pics when you’re done, and good luck!

-- Wag more, bark less.

View Marlow's profile


178 posts in 2867 days

#3 posted 03-22-2012 09:38 PM

1. If there is some reason not to do this, I’m not smart enough to know why.
2. I’ve used 1 1/2” on FF rails/stiles on pieces of similar and much larger scale, and they look great.
3. My personal opinion: top way too thick, if your going for traditional Shaker. I’d thin it down, and put a significant bevel on the underside.

View vbwoodworks's profile


4 posts in 2685 days

#4 posted 03-25-2012 02:29 PM

The cabinet looks fine, but the top definately needs to be 4/4 or 5/4 beveled down to approx. 3/4 on the sides and front to give it the proper look for a shaker piece

View jdmaher's profile


437 posts in 2776 days

#5 posted 03-26-2012 03:33 PM

Thanks for all the feedback.

While I was at first reluctant, I’ve redrawn the top as 5/4 with a bevel to bring the edges to 3/4”. I now believe you’re all right about this.

I’ll also redraw the door rails and stiles to 1.5”.

Then I’ll tweak.

I may start looking for some highly figured 6/4 cherry, and keep a lot of the 8/4 I have for a later project.

Thanks again!

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3773 days

#6 posted 03-26-2012 03:46 PM

I’m still stuck on the style supposedly shaker IMO the shaker influence needs to be more refined .
here are some good examples.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2482 days

#7 posted 03-26-2012 04:10 PM

You can put an IR repeater in this to get the remote IR signals to the components if you want to have them completely hidden. The problem with enclosing the components is shortening their life due to heat. You’ll need a LOT of ventilation in the back to compensate. You may also want to incorporate a slot across the front of the “floor” of the cabinet. Some of this, of course, depends on what type and how many components you have. I have an AV receiver, satellite receiver, DVD changer and a game console. My biggest concern is the AV receiver and satellite receiver, both of which generate considerable heat. You may want to go to and look at 120mm fans. They’re big, they turn slow, and they’re quiet, but they move a lot of air.

View jdmaher's profile


437 posts in 2776 days

#8 posted 03-26-2012 05:09 PM


What refinements are you suggesting? Maybe, proportions; is it too “clunky”? Maybe a bit more leg showing before the lower face frame rail?

I don’t need to be slavish to Shaker style; that’s just an inspiration. Its sort of loosely based on a Thos Moser cabinet.


I’ll use an IR repeater. Bottom front will have a slot for airflow, as will case back. Cable box, dvd player, maybe an A/V receiver – all will be “raised” on wire mesh boxes that sit on the shelves. All these (plus a cdplayer) are currently sitting in a glass-fronted “modern” case with less space and less ariflow. They’ve been working fine for years. I’ll add a fan only if I have to.


-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3773 days

#9 posted 03-26-2012 05:38 PM

Hey Jim
It’s up to you what your design is, I’m not a design snob how could I be with the things I make. Who could fault having Thos Moser as a inspiration for a piece of furniture. As far as what my thoughts were ,I would guess that a shaker piece might have tapered legs and a thinner top,but some of the shaker pieces I’ve seen I don’t think they follow the true shaker style either and they were shakers LOL It doesn’t really matter what style you select as long as it works for you. I look forward to seeing your completed project.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3047 days

#10 posted 03-26-2012 06:39 PM

Here’s a piece I did in the same vernacular:

This is an electronics cabinet. A couple of things for you to note:

No face frame showing.


I ventilated it like crazy inside—slot in the floor in the front, exits high in the back for convection.

Beware of the trap of symmetry. Some things just look too pinched, too mirror-image to be interesting or attractive if they are symmetrical.

You mentioned the location kin to the mantel, and suggest this is the same height. Again, I’d question that. If its being the same height as the mantel throws the proportions off, I’d let the proportions trump the height similarity.

You’ll have more flexibility in the cabinet (and who knows what’s around the home entertainment corner) if you have one bay 2/3 and the other 1/3. And the 1/3 door doesn’t have to be the same size as the pair. And the pair should meet in the middle (of the bay, not the cabinet).

I like the three against two elements of drawers to doors, but the drawers are going to be quite wide. Not undoable, but worth being sensitive to.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

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