The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Display Cabinet, day 2.

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I put in four solid hours of woodworking today. I put in about four solid hours of raking leaves on Saturday. And I put in about two solid hours of electrical work in my garage on Friday night. After a long work week, I was kind of hoping to relax this weekend, but that didn’t happen. Still, I’m glad that I put the time in, because I got a lot accomplished, namely, I finished the construction portion of my display cabinet project.

I started off the day’s woodworking with the back panel of the cabinet; I had picked up the 1×8 material for that portion of the project on Friday afternoon. I cut the boards to length, but I did not need to touch the width, as I was making the panel with three boards and added together their width would be a nearly perfect fit.

Firstly, I arranged them in what I thought was a pleasing lay-out, I then marked the front faces and the “tongues and grooves”. Last week I sharpened my LN #48 plane just for this task. If you aren’t familiar with the tongue and groove plane, it does a nice job, but you really need to be careful with it. The plane can wander, and that’s not necessarily a design flaw, but because it will follow every little bump, hollow, or bulge on the reference face of a board. I took my time, as well as made an incredible mess, and finished the boards in short order. Once the panel was assembled I only needed to take a few passes from each end with the smoothing plane to get the final width needed.

Lay-out selected.

Lay-out selected.

A lovely bouquet of shavings

A lovely bouquet of shavings

A finished tongue.

A finished tongue.

A finished groove

A finished groove

A finished back panel

A finished back panel

The next task on the list was beading the two “tongue” boards. I had planned on a bead for the back panel from the beginning, and because I am only using three boards, I decided to use the larger 3/8 bead because it is more bold. Before I started I sharpened the beading plane yet again, because I wasn’t taking any chances. Speaking of which, 3M makes a flexible sand paper which does a very nice job of sharpening curved profiles. In this instance, I cut off a piece of 3/8 dowel and wrapped a piece of the paper around it. It worked well.

Flexible sandpaper

Flexible sandpaper

A dowel is all you need

A dowel is all you need

Polished and razor sharp

Polished and razor sharp

Thankfully, the beading process went without a hitch. In fact, it took me longer to get the beading plane set than to actually make the two beads. To finish it off I used the same flexible sandpaper I had used to sharpen the iron.
Obviously a beaded tongue and board panel is the traditional way to dress up the joint, and it serves the purpose of masking any discrepancies in the joint itself. I just happen to like the look, and I think it fits this design nicely.

Finished bead-This angle is the only way I could get it to show up on camera.

Finished bead-This angle is the only way I could get it to show up on camera.

The last task of the day took far longer than I thought it would. I needed to lay out and mortise the bottom of the cabinet to receive the bottom trim board. The mortise lay out and chopping took no time at all, but making the trim board was another matter. In fact, I took few photos of the process because as the kids say “Sh*t just got real!”

I made two boards, one arched and one straight. The arched board did not look right. It just didn’t seem to match the look I was going for. I installed the straight board (which admittedly was there as a backup in case I messed up the first one) and liked the look better. In the meanwhile, it took me a good hour to get the board fitted with tight shoulders and no gaps. But the real conundrum came after.

I dry assembled the case to make sure that everything was okay, and I began looking at the arched board which serves as the top of the cabinet. Like the bottom trim board, I also made two arches: one bold and one more gently curved. The gently curved board seemed to fit the concept better, but once the case was fully assembled something seemed off. I had an extra board left, so I cut it square and put it in place at the top of the cabinet. Though it looks a bit more bland, I also don’t think it looks bad. I called in a second opinion and that second opinion agreed with me. So the squared off top is what I’m leaning towards. Considering the case is still only dry-assembled I have some time to think about it.

An arched top?

An arched top?

Or squared off?

Or squared off?

Next week will consist of the tedious task of prepping the case for finish. For the finish, I am going with a three-pronged attack: Wood Conditioner, Mahogany Gel Stain, and Mahogany Bri-Wax. Next weekend will be a busy one, but I am hoping to at least get the back panels stained, and with that the case fully assembled, glued, and nailed.

Finishing materials

Finishing materials

With that, I will be able to call this a completed project. It was a fun build, and even more enjoyable because I had very few miscues. The good news is that once this cabinet is finished I have the perfect location in my house for it. The really good news is I already have my next project lined up, and I will begin the drawings for it this week.

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8 Comments

  1. Greg Merritt says:

    Its looking really good Bill. For what its worth, I like the flat top version better as well. The arch top just doesn’t transition well with the sides.
    I’ll be watching with great interest to see how the finishing process turns out.

    • billlattpa says:

      Thanks. I am liking the flat top more and more. And considering the sides are curved and arched, yet the front it squared, it sort of fits together nicely.
      For the finish, I’m not going to take any chances. I figure on doing a test piece with the full treatment: planed, sanded to 220, then the conditioner, the gel stain, and the wax. I’m still on the fence whether or not to use nails with heads, or headless nails on the case sides. I’ll have to ask the Misses what she thinks.
      Bill

  2. Randall says:

    I’ll second the flat top version.

    • billlattpa says:

      Yeah, I’ve had a day to think about it and I am sticking with the flat top. Just as the case sides are arched/curved, the front seems to look better squared off.
      Thanks.
      Bill

  3. bloksav says:

    Hi Bill
    Great looking project.
    I must say that I like the look of the slightly arched top. But I can see that it might be a disturbing look, if placed somewhere in the house where there are horizontal lines that can be seen at the same time, like under a window or under a picture etc.
    A beaded tongue and groove panel is not only traditional, it looks great too. I think it really goes well as a back panel for your display case.
    Brgds
    Jonas

    • billlattpa says:

      Thanks Jonas. After thinking about it for a day I’m definitely sticking with the flat top. It seems to work because the front of the case has more of a square feel to it, while the sides have more of a curved look. I’m somewhat surprised, but it fits together more nicely than I thought it would.
      The beaded panel is one of my favorite design elements. I didn’t use it in the past very often because I didn’t have a beading plane. I’ve added beads with an electric router to other projects, but I don’t enjoy using a router, and I’ve never really like how the beads from a router looked regardless. So it was fun to use the beading plane to add them.

      There was quite a bit of hand plane work yesterday, and my right hand is actually sore. Unfortunately I have nerve damage in my hand, nothing horrible, but just years of accumulated damage from work, music, sports etc. I’ve been to doctor who specializes in hands and he said that it would be okay, but there is little I can do to fix it except to not over work the tendons. I think I overdid it a bit this weekend, but it was all worth it.
      Thanks.
      Bill

  4. flat top looks good to me for what its worth, nice job…

    • billlattpa says:

      Thanks very much! Yeah, it’s been almost a week and the flat top is definitely what I’m sticking with. Considering there will be framed photos etc. on that top shelf anyway, the arch would not have really been very prominent to begin with.
      Bill

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