[ Swingley Development ] [ Jump to Content ]
animals baseball beer blog / photolog books bookbinding me other weather woodworking

Magazine Cabinet (page 2 of 2)

Here's my progress and some current photos of my magazine cabinet. The most recent of these images were taken on the 31st of March, 2001.

Other Woodworking pages:

Projects Plans Tools OldTools Archive

Sawing sliding dovetail Now that we've finished cutting the joints for the main carcase, we can start forming the joints that will hold the other pieces into the case. The first joint to form is the female half of the sliding dovetail joint that will securely hold the middle shelf in position.

I chose a sliding dovetail joint because it serves to pull the sides together, and I was concerned that the middle shelf might bow enough that it could come out of a normal dado. An alternative might be to use a wedged mortise and tenon joint, either with through mortises, or using fox mortises. A sliding dovetail is easier and probably more secure.

Routing out sliding dovetail My sliding dovetail is stopped so it won't show through to the front of the cabinet, and it is tapered to make it easier to assemble. To start, mark the top side of the shelf on the inside face of the side, and then mark the taper of the dovetailed side. The taper should be such that at the back the bottom of the dovetail is no wider than the thickness of the shelf board, and is still large enough at the front that no strength is compromised. Strike these lines with a marking knife.

Shaving dovetail to fit Next, chisel out a space at the front of the joint at least an inch long. This will be the space that the saw will run into while cutting the remainder of the slot. To actually cut the sides of the slot, place a batten against the struck lines, and use the batten to guide the saw. In the picture above you can see the chiseled space that the saw slides into. The bottom side of the dovetail slot should be cut at an angle (I used 9 degrees off perpendicular). You can also dovetail the top edge, but I left this side at 90 degrees.

Once you've sawed down to the depth desired, chisel out most of the waste, and finish the bottom of the groove with a router plane. If the saw cuts are uneven or rough, clean them up with a side rabbet plane (#79 or a #98 / #99 pair). You can also use a side rabbet to increase or decrease the dovetail angle as you try to get the shelf to match.

Testing the fit Creating the dovetailed ends on the shelves themselves starts by marking the depth of the groove on the ends of the shelf. Next, cut out the material from the front corner of each side of the shelf so the shelf will fit into the stopped groove. I used a dovetail saw to cut down to the scribed line, a coping saw to remove most of the waste, and then chiseled the remainder down to the lines.

I cut a very shallow rabbet on the top side of the ends of the shelf to hide the top of the groove. It's much easier to make this rabbet smooth, straight, and sharply defined than it is to keep the dado in good condition.

Making rear dado with a #45 After cutting this rabbet, carefully transfer the taper of the top of the dovetail to the shelves. These marks will indicate the depth to cut along the scribed lines. I made this cut the same way I did it earlier using a batten and a back saw.

Once the deepest part of the tapered dovetail has been defined, chisel away some of the material at the correct angle. A guide block may help keep the chisel oriented correctly. A side rabbet plane is an excellent tool for cleaning up the dovetail until it fits smoothly into it's housing.

Routing out the top of the back dado In the pictures above you can see me trimming the dovetail with my side rabbet plane (a Stanley #79), and then testing the fit of the shelf with the side of the case. At the back of the shelf you can see the shallow rabbet on the top side of the shelf and the dovetail profile on the bottom. The dark marks on the side are from my router plane and will be planed / scraped off before the final assembly.

Thicknessing stiles with a #40 Next, we need to form the dado that run around the back edges of the carcase. This could very easily be done using a plow plane or it's iron equivalent, except that the dado can only run to the end of the boards in certain directions. For example, along the sides, the dado can run out the bottom of the side, but it can't be cut all the way to the top because it would show through at the top of the case (depending on where the dovetails are cut). The dado in the bottom piece is even more difficult because the dado can't run out on either side.

Grooving stile with a #45 I used a Stanley #45 combination plane to cut the majority of the dado. To clean up the rest of the dado, and to insure the dado is flat bottomed and evenly cut, I chiseled out most of the waste at the very top of the stopped portion, and then cleaned it up using a router plane (a Stanley #71). When using the router plane you need to be careful to watch the orientation of the blade so it doesn't cut into the sides of the dado.

After chopping the small mortises in the sides for the French cleat, we can begin forming the back assembly.

A mortise in the stile The first step in making the back assembly is to reduce the thickness of the 4/4 lumber to 1/2 inch thick boards. I used a #40 scrub plane to remove most of the waste, by hogging the wood along the edges down to the lines I marked, and then removing most of the wood in the middle. To get the board flat, I used a Marsh #5 1/2, the wooden jack plane I made, and finally a smoothing plane.

Putting the groove along the insides of the pieces was done with my #45 combination plane. At this stage, the rails and stiles are all longer than their final dimension. This allows some leeway in case the grooving breaks out the sides at one end, and will also help when pounding out the mortises in the stiles.

Once the grooves have been cut, form mortises in stiles where the rails will go. I used a breast drill with a 1/4 inch bit to remove most of the waste, and finished the mortises with a pair of chisels.

Making shoulder cuts Tenons are formed on the ends of the rails by cutting the shoulders with a back saw, chiseling away most of the cheeks, and finishing the cheeks and shoulders with a block plane (#60 1/2) and a shoulder plane (#92). The haunches on the top and bottom rails was cut with a dovetail saw. Once the rails and stiles fit together properly, trim the stiles to length.

The panels for the back assembly are made by reducing the thickness of the 4/4 red oak to 1/2" thick using the methods introduced earlier (scrub plane, jointer plane, jack, smoother). A rabbet is cut all the way around both sides (using a #78) to form a 1/4" thick, 1/2" wide tongue that will fit into the grooves in the rails and stiles. Be sure to leave some room for expansion and contraction in the panels by leaving some space between the tongues and the bottom of the grooves.

Making cheek cuts For example, the widest panel is 10 1/2", and my shop is currently at approximately 8% moisture content. If I know the maximum moisture content in my area is 11%, I calculate that the panel will expand by approximately 1/8". So if I have 1/16" clearance between the tongue and the bottom of the groove in the top and bottom rail, I've got plenty of room for the maximum expansion the cabinet is likely to experience. The panel can also shrink by an equal amount (moisture content of less than 5%) without exposing the end of the tongue.

The doors are formed using frame and panel techniques similar to those used on the back assembly. The rails and styles are ripped, jointed, smoothed and grooved as was done earlier.

The tenons on the ends of the rails were cut using a miter box and a backsaw. The miter box saw depth is set to the depth of the groove in order to form the shoulder cuts (the tenon is the same thickness as the groove cut in the rails and stiles). This way the cuts are perfectly square and are the correct depth. The cheek cuts were made using my "Disston tenoning jig," as shown above. The tenons are cleaned up using a shoulder plane.

Sealing dye with shellac While making the door frames, it's time to get started on the finish for the project. The panels for the back assembly need to be finished first so the tongue can get the correct coloration -- if this is done after assembly, shrinkage in the panel would expose un-stained wood.

I chose a mission oak style finish based on an article at Jeff Jewitt's web site. It'll take several days to complete the finish for each part, so it's better to get going as soon as individual pieces are completed. Be sure to tape off joints that will require glue so the finish doesn't inhibit a proper glue bond. On this project, this isn't critical except for the tenons on the door rails because the construction techniques used in the carcase are very strong even without glue.

Applying gel stain Start by pre-raising the grain with a wet sponge. After the wood dries (overnight), lightly sand down the grain with 220 or 320 grit sandpaper. Next, apply a dark, water-based dye stain. I used Homestead Finishing's Dark Mission Oak TransTint powder dye, dissolved in water, and applied with a rag. After liberally applying stain to the wood, wipe away any excess and let the wood dry for a few hours. Lightly sand the risen grain, and re-apply the stain.

Wiping gel stain After 24 hours, the stain should have dried completely, and the wood should be smooth. Seal the dye stain using two coats of 2# shellac. I used Paddy's SuperBlonde dewaxed shellac, but you could change the color slightly using a darker shellac like orange or garnet. You can see this step in the picture above.

Once the shellac dries, use a stiff bristle brush to work a dark gel stain into the pores of the wood. I used Varathane Dark Walnut gel stain. Before the stain dries, wipe it off the surface of the wood with a dry rag. This should leave stain in the pores, but the remainder of the wood will be the same color as the original dye stain.

Carcase glue up After the gel stain dries, a couple coats of shellac, followed by some paste wax will finish the job.

After completing the finish on all the carcase parts, we're ready to glue up the case. I used a liquid hide glue because it cleans up with water and because it has a much longer open time than a typical white or yellow glue. First, assemble the top to one of the sides and insert the french cleat tenon into the mortise on the back of case. Next, slip the other side into the dovetails on the top, and seat the other french cleat tenon. When all the pieces are fitted properly, draw the sides together. I used waxed paper between the cauls and the top of the case so any glue that leaks out won't glue the caul to the case.

Second stage glue up The middle shelf will help hold the sides together, so drive the shelf into the sliding dovetail slot in the case. Finally, insert the back assembly into the dados in the back of the case. I used glue on the dovetails at the top of the carcase and put a little glue on the shelf, but the rest of the assembly was dry. After measuring the diagonals, use a diagonal clamp to hold the case square until the glue dries.

After the first glue up dries, fit the tenons at the bottom of the sides into the bottom mortises and drive the wedges into the slots to expand the tenons into the angled mortises. I clamped the bottom to the rest of the case before hammering the wedges so they will force the bottom flush with the case.