Two summers ago, our shop was contracted to make all of the built in cabinets for a very large, very modern house.
It was a huge project, keeping four of us busy for months working primarily with teak veneer and solid. The general contractor and client were extremely fussy, so much so that our boss vowed to never work for them again. Their work was immaculate – over the top – and we had to match it. For those of you with some experience in site work it was amazing. All walls were dead flat and perfectly vertical, well within a sixteenth. All inside and outside corners were exactly square, so much so that our fillers needed no trimming. You could play billiards on the floors and the balls would never veer.
For my part I made a very elegant wall hung vanity, an interesting wall unit in the master bedroom and for the purposes of this post, and for your vicarious enjoyment, a strange item in the kitchen.
The idea, believe it or not, was to have the living room floor sweep down into the kitchen and turn into a counter top without a break.
The material I had to work with was a very pricey Italian made engineered flooring with a diamond hard surface coat and laser straight edges. No matter how hard I looked at it I could not see how they machined it so flawlessly. That helped for sure but I still had to edge and end glue it into a compound curve over 14 ft long, some 3 ft wide and then join it to the living room floor. No breaks or gaps allowed, no sanding possible and with no flex ridges showing on the surface. Smooth as a baby’s bum or else.
Since it was impossible to layup in one piece (too unwieldy & our press is only 10ft) it was done in three sections and then glued together in a final shop assembly.
To begin with, all strips were multiple grooved with a very thin saw blade and a power feeder. Hours of cutting even at that.
Two curved forms were made to go in the vacuum bag and then the parts were flat glued in three sections after matched fitting with interlocking random finger joints.
Then it was into the bag over a double layer flex-ply substrate followed by an assembly of those sections.
It took an entire day to set up and do this last operation. Getting the long finger joints together was the trickiest part. To finish, a heavy solid front edge was added.
On to site and fit up. There was a temporary wall made and double faced taped to the living room floor to put the building inspector off the scent and then I was done. Baked.
Such is the occasional insanity of custom cabinetry. I burned through about 125 hrs making this and the underlying cabinets and with no real compliment from the client or builder, though my boss said he owed me a stiff drink for pulling it off – which to date has not been forthcoming. The great proof here is that sometimes you need to get by with your own satisfaction I suppose.
That and maybe with someone saying “Nice work dad”.
-- firstname.lastname@example.org : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.