Saturday, June 27, 2009


I really have to get my dust collector set up. Unfortunately I don't have any room for it yet, so until I do I have to put up with crap like this:

This is the carnage left on my table saw after milling up a bunch of window sill material for my house.

I milled the wood for my cabinet doors last weekend. I had already bought some wide planks of birch and was hoping that I could resaw them to get rift to quarter sawn material. Turns out though that I couldn't get what I wanted out of it so I spent a great deal of time hunting around for some 12/4 birch. I'm not sure why, but 12/4 birch or quarter-rift sawn birch is really hard to find. I ended up finding what I was looking for in Sherwood Park, a 'suburb' of Edmonton. There's a guy there who builds baseball bats and all his material is 3x3 blanks of air dried ash, maple, and birch. I was a bit dissappointed to find out that it was milled green, and with drying had shrunk almost a quarter inch. Fortunately though, being air-dried, it didn't move a hair when I resawed it all into rail & stile stock. I squeezed three strips out of each blank, and they ended up at a skinny 7/8" thick. I'm really hoping I can get 3/4" out of them. The nice thing about building all your own doors though is that if I have to make them 11/16" it isn't a big deal.

I knew that cabinets would take me a long time to build, but I didn't realize it would go into the 6 month mark! I've had a pile of other things going on with my house renovation that diverted my attention, but the trim carpenter starts this week and the last few things I have to do should get ticked off this weekend. All there's left on my list before I move in is cabinet doors and countertops, and I'm getting help with the concrete countertops. So anyways, it's getting close! Housewarming invitations are in the mail!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

NY Chairs

I forgot I had taken these pictures.

While I was in NY I snapped a few shots of some chairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum. There was tons of furniture there but most was crazy ornately carved/upholstered/gilded european stuff. There was a few interesting plywood chairs though.

The plaque on this chair just said 'Ray Komai. Side Chair 1949' but I looked it up on the museum's website:

At the MET there was a display that shows how their artifacts are stored and cataloged, and in that display there were a bunch of interesting chairs with no details whatsoever. Unfortunately the chairs I was trying to take pictures of were up on the top shelf, so I had to hold the camera up over my head, and flash photography is strictly prohibited. Anyway, here's the couple of pictures that sort of turned out... sort of.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Drawer Making

I started working on drawers a few weeks back and have been picking away at them since. I keep getting side-tracked by other things but I'm pretty much done now - I just have to put a quick coat of finish on them.

I don't like lower cabinets, because I hate bending over or getting on my knees trying to rescue something from the depths of the cabinet. Instead I built lower drawers, 24 of them, including a large drawer that a trash can will fit inside. I used baltic birch plywood for all the drawers, 1/2" for the smaller drawers and 5/8" for the larger ones, although I think now that 5/8" was a bit of overkill. I built the drawers in three batches. The first was the upper drawers, then the larger second and third row, and finally the remaining 5 in the island. The picture above is the last batch, all cut to size and ready for joinery.

I looked around for quick & strong drawer joinery and finally settled on a 'groove & rabbett' joint because it was simple, quick, and if oriented properly and tightly fit I'm sure it'll be very strong. Especially with a high-quality material like baltic birch ply. I don't think it would be very strong with solid wood because of the short grain the joint would cause. Also, I'm not sure it would work great with domestic plywood because the plys are so thick. The bit of holding wood left after the groove is cut might want to tear off if the joint is too tight.

First I cut the groove. On the first run of drawers I used my router table but I had inconsistent results with each test joint I cut (for some reason) so I switched to the dado blade. It worked more consistently but I had to scribe each cut to prevent tear out.

For Euro-style bottom mount slides the drawer bottom must be captured which adds another step into the drawer construction. I made sure to reference the fence to the top side of the drawer so that the top was all flush during glue-up. It means that I had to re-setup for every different drawer height but it made for less clean up after glue up.

I cut the rabbett last, using a sacrifical fence.

The final joint, ready for glue-up. When I had the joints together and the drawer box square I shot 3 or 4 crown molding staples through the joint for some added security. Like I said, I'm just a CNC router and a drinking porblem away from being a production cabinetmaker!