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ShopCam HiLites for 11/9/00
Little Cabinets

Today had another morning with a late start. After driving my neighbor to pick up his truck, a side-trip to the grocery store was in order. But this is the least of my problems. In re-reading the last couple installments, I see there is little humor in my prose. Dang election has me distracted - I need a catharsis!

I don't want to go into the problem but I have a solution. Handcuff both guys together until one of them says "Uncle". The loser will sign a contract agreeing to never snipe, gripe, grumble, whine or insinuate any disparaging comments for the term of the winner's presidency. And if neither of them gives in, maybe they'll learn to get along with each other and stop the polarizing rhetoric which has the US populace so divided.

Sorry - I feel better now...;)

Where were we - oh yeah, Mr. D.'s wall unit. We're assembling the drawers. The procedure is very straightforward. I put a blob of glue in each space between the pins and swish it around with my acid brush. I don't bother putting glue on the tails. As tight as these joints fit, there isn't much need for excess glue. All that's required is enough glue to hold the tail between the pins.

I glue both ends of the drawer face and then slip both sides into place and bang them together using a thick caul to spread the impact. Hitting the side with a bare mallet will likely split the drawer side.

With the drawer face laying down on the bench, I'll squeeze a stripe of glue into it's drawer bottom groove and slide in the plywood bottom. The back is dropped in behind the bottom by spreading the sides outward, and it, too, has glue applied to the spaces between it's pins and drawer bottom groove. Then the drawer is flipped over and the back ends of the sides are banged home using the mallet and caul.

No clamping required!

Because the bottom is cut slightly undersize, there is a little wiggle room for square. With the front of the drawer laying flat on the bench again, I check for square using the bench as a reference, and lock the drawer in position with some slivers of wood jammed into the bottom groove. You can also measure diagonals if you want - doesn't matter.
After the glue has grabbed the drawer square, the box is flipped upside down on the bench and a bead of hotmelt is applied all around the perimeter of the drawer-bottom joint. As most of you know, most 1/4" plywood isn't, and hasn't been for a long time, a full 1/4" thick. This leaves about 1/32" of space for the hotmelt to flow into, and when done, the little cabinet beats like a drum.
Pictured at right is the dovetail joint at this stage of the process. Glue that squeezed out is mashed into the wood by the banging on the caul. Hopefully, all the tails are flush with the ends of the pins and there are no little chips missing in the joint. As you can see, I only get half my wish today...:(

To fill any gaps or replace any chips which were lost in the dovetailing process, I wipe a whole putty knife of walnut putty along the joint. I suspect I could skip this step if I slowed down in the machining process. Something tells me I'm never going to do that so I don't agonize over it.

Let's leave our drawers alone for a while so the glue and putty can set up hard.

There are two small chores to get out of the way before we can assemble the upper units. The tops of the base cabinets are assembled to the upper unit verticals and they get a heavy edging 1 1/2" high by 1 1/4" deep. In the photo at right, I'm planing the board in preparation for making this edging.

The shape of the edging is pretty simple - a bullnose with ogee underneath. It's fortunate I have the necessary bits in my router bit drawer...


did I design the edge to match the bits...;)

After lunch, I take out my election frustrations on the diminutive drawer boxes. This is about the only time I use a belt sander anymore. Backing up the drawer against my knee prevents the drawer from escaping!
In the end, the corners look really good after the 100 grit belt sanding. I won't do anything more to them until after their drawer slides and other hardware is mounted. We could do that now but I want to get the upper cabinets assembled before Saturday afternoon - the end of this work-week...groan...:(

The second chore for the day is fashioning an electrical access door in one of the upper unit verticals. In Mr. D.'s home office, the fireplace juts out 12" in the long wall getting the wall unit. due to proportional considerations of the cabinets and columns which flank the fireplace, there is about a 4" cavity behind this vertical. This is where we'll snake the needed power, phone and networking cables for the equipment he wants to place on the right cabinet top.

The plan for the door is 6" x 6" and I intend for it to go reasonably un-noticed. This means invisible cylinder hinges mounted at the top of the opening. Since the opening is too small the drill the holes for the hinges, I decide to cut the whole bottom out of the vertical along the side lines of the hidden door. The razor knife is used to score the top edge of the door opening.

To cut out the top of the small opening, I'm relying on the Glider and it's locking table (Chrome knob in photo center). I lock the table about where raising the blade will bring it up about center in the small door opening.
Here's the finished cut. I had to bump the panel a couple times, to the right, to get the saw to raise up right next to the razored score line across the grain of the walnut veneer. The I use a jigsaw to rough out the rest of the cuts and a sharp chisel in the corners cleans them up square.
To bore the 14mm holes for the cylinder hinges, I need to make a jig. I crosscut a piece of scrap exactly the width of the opening and use a stop block to make sure the holes are the same length from the end of the scrap.
A fence screwed to the boring template locates the height of the holes and the tape measure tells me when I've bored the holes deep enough to accept the hinges.
Once the holes are drilled in the vertical, a piece is fitted tightly to the opening - the hidden door - and the bottom 2" is crosscut off the door bottom for re-connecting the two tines of the vertical. I wanted to biscuit this part in there but in the end, the biscuit machine missed fitting between the tines by 1/16". Better luck next time! :)
The next step is using the boring jig to drill the cylinder holes in the top of the hidden door.
Here's the door mounted to the hinges. Because this feature was added to the job after I cut out most of the plywood parts, I couldn't match the grain exactly. That would have meant cutting up one of the other verticals which were already bored for the shelf pin holes. Mr. D. plans to put a printer in front of this door so the grain mismatch won't be that obvious.

While the glue is drying on the panel bottom, I go back to my top edges. The board I chose for the molded edge has some pretty irregular grain which crooked and bowed during ripping. That's OK, I saw that coming and ripped the pieces oversize.

Here I am re-jointing the edges square. I only need to do two edges for each piece and then it's back to the planer for final sizing. When jointing to exacting straightness, a light touch is required to negate any chance the board will be artificially straightened by the push blocks while feeding across the jointer.

Since I'm removing wood from all sides of each piece, I have to mark the ends so I can keep track of which edge is straight and which one isn't. The black marker streak tells me this strip's orientation in the whole board before ripping. The right-angle pencil line tells me the edges straightened and squared on the jointer.

When the glue is dry, I pull it out of the clamps and fit the door. In this photo, I'm fussing with one of the holes which didn't get bored perfectly. I haven't used cylinder hinges for quite some time and it might be a while before I use them again.

In retrospect, a couple behind-the-faceframe 35mm hinges might have worked much better and would have been faster to install. Oh well, I'm still learning! :)

If you have any questions or comments about Mr. D's Walnut Wall Unit, please post them at the Info Exchange.

Jim Mattson

 Onward to the Next Installment

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