Monday, December 24, 2007
Some of the detail in closer range. Note the small black diamonds
in each upper corner of the cabinet. I felt the cabinet needed this
for better balance with respect to colors and patterns.It is also a nice,
subtle decorative touch to convey the diamond theme.These photos
are just before I install some additional brass hardware in the area
above the drawers and begin the finishing process. I need to break
now for the Christmas holidays. I wish you all a great Christmas!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
The first phase of the finishing process involves lightly scraping all surfaces, removing any lingering pencil marks , and checking for anything else I would not want to have under the finish. The finish itself is thinned shellac applied in multiple coats with an applicator pad. This is a lengthy process as each coat is thin and only with many coats does the finish begin to attain the right sheen and depth.
I decided a couple of years back to begin using more natural finishes on my furniture pieces. The benefits to this are primarily health motivated and as well the finishes are pleasant to use and with the right consistency can be applied with an applicator pad. My finish of choice is thinned clear or super blonde shellac with a light coat of wax afterwards. I mix my own shellac and set myself up to be able to finish a piece of furniture over a period of a few days. Shellac coats dry rather quickly so the possibility of dust nibs on the surface are next to nil. Many thinned coats almost guarantee a nice, even finish if the strokes of the applicator pad are offset every so often.
It's interesting to notice how much the upper cabinet ( armoire) has already naturally darkened compared to the armoire stand which is only recently put together. This disparity in color will blend together over the next two weeks or so, one of the great features of cherry.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I'm now working on some decorative door pulls. I'm going to embed some holly into the blackwood pulls to carry the blackwood and white holly colors from the stand to the armoire. There will be a subtle inclusion of holly in the door pulls with once again, a diamond theme. The door pulls have a small tenon with four shoulders which fits into a chiseled recess in each of the doors. I carefully marked the door pull recesses and confirmed that the pulls are perfectly aligned in both planes.
In the photo, there are two blackwood half-diamonds on the outside of the apron , with blackwood and holly curved stringing leading to the center of the apron. Just above the center is located the holly diamond. I selected these two woods to provide good contrast once the cherry ages and develops a darker color and patina. I don't apply any stain to my work and instead let the natural aging process of cherry develop its own distinct color, and use as many woods with natural contrasting colors as possible..
There is more work to do for me on the armoire, mostly completion work however. I need to install a couple of brass carousels and brass pegs, create compartments in the drawers, and also line the drawers. Now I can begin to focus on getting the detail correct and lightly scraping the surfaces on the unit to prepare for finishing. I'm also at the point where I can very soon begin finishing the armoire while I work on the drawer compartments.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Afterwards, I proceeded to mark and create the mortises for the mortise and tenon joints at each leg. Since I initially created the stand, I needed to create the stand with the exact dimensions in length and width to appear integral. This was a greater challenge than I anticipated, since the measurements become very critical and need to be exact. The cabinet and stand need to appear to be one unit. Therefore, the aprons need to be measured with allowance for the legs at either end and for the tenon itself. The tenons have four shoulders to be completely housed within the joint, and are offset on the face of the legs towards the front. There was a bit of trial and error and I actually made a small trial joint with similar dimensions to test for measurements, as the apron faces need to be flush with the leg surfaces.. After some deliberation, I decided the safest approach would be to prepare the mortises first, then cut the aprons a little longer than final length and cut the tenons.I had the final measurement of both the front, back and sides and worked back from this, subtracting the thickness of the already prepared leg blanks.
This worked well and I slowly snuck up on the final measurement for the apron. A shoulder plane is a godsend in this situation, as it is specifically designed to trim and tune tenon shoulders. I kept at this while often checking that the tenon and shoulder is square and perpendicular to the apron. Shortly afterwards, I had four aprons ready. I've since assembled the stand using clamps and actually test fit the armoire on it. I am now creating the tapers on the legs. The design on these tapered legs has the taper beginning a few inches below the apron to the foot of the leg. The two inner faces of the legs are tapered. I rough cut the tapers using a bandsaw and then it is strictly handplane work, in this case a jointer plane. It is quite a satisfying operation to watch the tapers being created without too much effort and without use of fancy jigs, just handplanes for the most part.
I'll continue with preparation of the stand components and probably have it together in a day or so after I create some decorative detail work on the front apron.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Preparing the drawer pulls took a little time as I needed to create a shoulder on either side of the blanks and two other shoulders also. I use a rabbet block plane to create the long shoulders. The four shoulders form a tenon and enable the pulls to fit into a smaller mortise where none of the mortise walls are exposed. Due to the sheer number of drawers I decided on creating the mortise groove using the router table with stops. This took some time as I could only remove a very small amount per drawer for eight drawers. The cycle was repeated until the depth of the mortise for each drawer was approx. 5/16 inch, afterwards which I squared the ends of the groove by lightly paring using a small 3/16 inch chisel. Following this, I hand sawed and filed the sides of the pulls in the area of the tenon to create an accurate four-sided tenon to fit into the groove.
In the photo , the drawer pulls are installed and one remaining blackwood blank is also visible. I will use this to create the pulls for the front doors. The blank has already been rabbeted on either side to form a tenon. At this point , I simply need to decide on the length and depth of the pulls for each of the front doors. Part of my decision to create the drawer pulls the size I mentioned above, or 2 inches long and .75 inches deep, is also to have the pull act as a small fulcrum with a large bearing surface for a person to remove and hold the drawer with ease, thus the drawer can easily be removed with a single hand. If I instead made the pulls small, the pull itself could only really be used to pull the drawer open or closed but not help to lift it.
In the past day or so I've spent some time arranging the components of the stand for the jewelry armoire. The stand is comprised of four legs and four aprons, two side and a front and back apron. I want to make sure the grain orientation of the legs and the aprons is straight-grained, this involves some clever ripping of the legs to maintain straight grain on all four faces of each leg. I used a small template of the dimensions of the leg to overlay over each 8/4 inch thick, 36 inch long blank of cherry I have, which allows me to best orient the leg within the blank. The orientation of the grain for each of the aprons was very much the same, although not quite as straight-grained, but very much acceptable. I'm letting the rough sawn leg blanks acclimatize now to let the wood reach a "calm" state before proceeding.
Friday, December 14, 2007
The drawer bottoms need to be measured, cut and inserted next, they are simply pinned at the bottom of the back of the drawer.... this allows the drawer bottom to be removable and replaceable if necessary. There is more than sufficient strength for the drawer bottoms as they are located within a groove on the sides and front of the drawer.The drawers are very lightly oiled at this point and I'll apply wax to them later on in the finishing process. The drawer fronts are for the most part, quartersawn or rift sawn grain orientation, this allows any expansion and contraction to occur in the thickness of the drawer front, and also creates a more stable drawer front. Quartersawn oriented grain also allows the drawer fronts to remain fairly snug in their respective drawer opening with hardly any movement in height, this maintains a consistent reveal around each drawer opening. Each drawer will also be lined and have removable drawer inserts forming small compartments within the drawer. The drawer fronts slowly become darker and the contrast with the drawer sides becomes more enhanced.
I need to begin designing and creating the drawer pulls next. The drawer pulls will be mortised into the center of each drawer front. At this time I'm leaning towards rectangular pulls with a small tenon which fits into a small horizontal groove in the drawer front. I haven't decide whether to use blackwood (original design) or a more subtle wood. I need to take into consideration the fact that the cherry slowly darkens over time, changing the contrast with the drawer pull.
I've been looking forward to seeing these drawers in their drawer openings, it gives me a sense that the completion of this armoire is not far away. Some of the next steps are the completion of a stand for the jewelry armoire, some detailed decorative work time permitting, and of course the finishing process. All this will occur within the next few days.
We need to brace ourselves up here, a huge winter snow storm is on its way and should arrive here this Sunday. Winter doesn't technically begin until next Friday, Dec. 21, but we're well into it already. This contrasts with a relatively mild winter we had last year. I also can't believe how close Christmas is, seems like it was autumn just a short time ago.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
All this in preparation of creation of the dovetails. Marking the pieces also becomes very important at this stage. Each of the outside surfaces and the orientation of the pieces are marked, as in the photo. I've made a small change to the dovetails partly due to a suggestion to a blog reader and partly to strengthen the joint. The tails were fairly large in the mock-up with little pin surface area. I am concerned with the tails telegraphing through the drawer front, so I reduced the size of the tails slightly leaving more wood in the drawer front pins. In the photo, the top drawer has the new dovetail layout.
I use a few tools to make these dovetails as in the photo, most of the chisels used are visible and I keep them sharp with repeated honing during my work. I also have a few more measuring tools than necessary, the duplicates are merely to keep the measurements for making the tails handy. At the the right in the photo, a dovetail jig is partially visible. I use this mostly to orient the tail and pin boards for precise marking and chiseling.The drawer sides are slightly proud of the drawer front edges and I hand plane them down afterwards. During the glue-up, I check and re-check that the sides are perpendicular to the drawer fronts. Later on, I install the drawer backs and drawer bottom for each of the drawers.
Creating and assembling the eight drawers is a bit time consuming, and patience is a necessary virtue here. What I have done is to create the sequence I mentioned above and make sure everything is correctly and visibly marked to avoid any mistakes. So far, so good.
There is nothing quite as satisfying as bringing a dovetail joint together after a few taps with a mallet, well at least in the woodworking world. Hopefully, in the next post I'll have the eight drawers mostly complete except for the drawer pulls, of which the design I haven't finalized yet.
Monday, December 10, 2007
I haven't decided which wood I'll be using for the drawer sides just yet, my criteria is to have a striking contrast with the drawer front. It isn't visible in the photo, but I have also created the grooves for the drawer bottom in the mock-up. The process of laying out dovetails involves locating the drawer bottom groove on the tail and pin board. The groove, in this case .25 inch, is completely contained within the lower tail. This both simplifies the process and does not introduce any issues with overlap of pin and tail with the groove, possibly weakening the joint.. Therefore, consideration of where the drawer bottom groove is located is part of the layout process for the dovetails.
I'm glad to have gone through this exercise and in the process also have the exact measurements with precise settings on my tools to be able to replicate these dovetails. I create the tails first, then use the tails to mark out the pins. I now have two marking gauges preset to the correct depths of both the drawer side and drawer front, I use a divider to mark the dovetails.
Next I will cut and prepare the parts for the eight drawers paying careful attention to the grain orientation of the drawer fronts. I'll also prepare extra components for a complete drawer as extra insurance against any mistakes. The nice part about this process is that every drawer is fairly identical and therefore the initial layout and measurements apply to each set of drawer components. In my next post, I'll have everything laid out and marked and hopefully partially complete.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
At this point I glued and clamped the panels together. A short time later, the clamps are removed and the fitting of the drawer dividers begins...
In the photo, the horizontal dividers are composed of a leading part of cherry and the back part is alder. I'm using alder as a secondary wood in this application. The drawer dividers are utilitarian for the most part except for the leading edge which needs to be consistent with the other panels comprising the drawer case. I've set the edge between the cherry and alder significantly behind the leading edge of the drawer case to be practically unnoticeable. The seam between the cherry and alder is also lightly hand planed and scraped prior to assembly.
I test fit the assemble drawer case into the main armoire case. This is a great example of a case within a case. The drawer case will be pinned to the main case at the bottom, but the remainder of the drawer case will not be attached to the main case. This was another design consideration on my part. I have much more freedom in the design and execution of the drawer case if it is built independently of the main case. In a earlier post I might have mentioned that I'm designing the drawers so they can be individually removed and set onto the drawer case, much like a silver chest design.
In the next few days I will begin assembling and preparing the wood to be used for the drawers, of which there are eight. The drawer front will be half-blind dovetailed to the drawer sides and the drawer back rabbeted and pinned in with a lower groove for the drawer bottom panel. I'll be using a contrasting wood to the cherry drawer fronts. I'm also going to work at getting the graphics of the drawer fronts both continuous and in harmony, this involves quartersawn pieces of cherry. Initially, I will lay out the dovetails both to be aesthetically pleasing and in scale with the drawer pieces. In my next post, I hope to have a dovetail layout I've decided on. It has been a while since I sat at my bench and made dovetail joints, I'm looking forward to this..
Thursday, December 6, 2007
In the photo, I am very lightly planing both surfaces of each of the panels to create a nice, smooth, polished surface, using a planing board. I had already done some of this hand planing prior to creating the dadoes, but the final hand planing cleans any residual ridges on the surfaces. The panel being planed is the center vertical divider, the other panels in the photo are the left and right vertical panels. The drawer case is of black cherry just as the main case. The panel being hand planed was partially covered for a few days and this caused the exposed area to darken considerably as opposed to the lighter portion. Cherry darkens considerably and develops a patina with exposure to light and ambient air.
Within the day, I will be assembling and gluing together this drawer case and fitting the individual drawer dividers. I have also test fit this drawer case into the main armoire case to confirm my previous measurements were correct. The drawer case will be for the most part floating in the main armoire case. To accomplish this I will be pinning the drawer case to the base of the jewelry armoire with four small dowels to prevent it from moving, yet it can be removed if necessary.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Number of drawers
Width and height of individual drawers
The cardboard mock-up is a very important step in my opinion, as it serves to both provide a visual image of the drawer case and to point out any possible subtle issues with the layout. The drawer case is set back from the edge of the main case to allow for drawer handles and a little extra for the armoire door stops. The drawers can be removed and individually placed on the top of the drawer case for better viewing. I debated whether to overlay the horizontal drawer dividers with the door fronts, but since all the wood is uniform and of the same species ( cherry), I will have the horizontal dividers visible. The components of the drawer case are for the most part dadoed and rabbeted together and the horizontal dividers will each slide in between two grooves. The center vertical divider will be permanently attached to the drawer case. The rabbeted sides will also have a couple of dowels in each of four edges for reinforcement.
Since the cardboard mock-up is sized exactly to scale, I have the benefit of using it to size the components of the drawer case for milling and dimensioning. At this point, I have precut the boards I will use for the drawer case and am allowing them to stabilize before any further processing, to remove any inner stresses in the wood.
The individual drawers will have dovetailed drawer fronts and rabbeted backs and the bottom panel will be floating in a small groove on all four sides of the drawer. It will be a few days before I begin to work on the drawers and I'll discuss the detail at that point.
On another note, it appears that my ski season is beginning much quicker than I had planned. We have record amounts of snow here for this time of year and it looks like it's going to stay. It's a winter wonderland out there.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
I made sure the pin portion of the knife hinges is offset from the edge of the case an equivalent distance, this ensures that the doors swing perfectly vertically. I also made sure to maintain a constant reveal between the edges of the doors and the case edges on both the left and right doors. This also ensures the doors swing plumb to the case.
I now move on to the next step in this build sequence which is creating the drawer compartments in the interior. I'm going to follow the original design loosely and possibly modify some of the drawer widths and the number of drawers. I also need to create the small case in which the drawers are located. This is a great opportunity to use a full scale overlay and create a small mock up of the inner case and drawer assembly, which I intend to experiment with in order to get it just right. I had purposely left the dimensioning of this inside drawer case to a later date to have this flexibility with proportions. I do have one criteria I need to meet, since this is a jewelry armoire, the height of the open space above the drawer case needs to be sufficiently high to allow chains to hang freely.
I'll find some suitable material to form a mock up of the inside case and draw the drawers in full scale. This is a good example of "dynamic design" , a term which I described in a earlier post, since I am going to modify some of the original drawer case design. The original design provided a great outline but now that the armoire case is fully assembled, the proportions can be better taken into consideration for the inside drawer case.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Initially, I had placed the door on the already mounted hinge leaves in the carcase, confirmed my measurements and simultaneously made a secondary mark or notch of where to orient the door hinge on the edge of the door. After creating the initial depth of the hinge mortise, I test fit the door to the already installed hinges on the carcase by sliding it in and confirming my markings are correct. You can see I spend a considerable amount of time confirming all measurements and markings are correct since it is not a simple task to correct any of this afterwards as the hinge mortises are already created. This is probably a good place to have practised these steps on some spare boards to get it right.
In the photo above, the knife hinge leaf is inserted into the mortise. The depth of the mortise should be equal to the thickness of the knife hinge leaf, in this case 1/8 inch. I'll continue on with these steps and install and adjust the doors so they are both plumb, level and spaced evenly to both each other and the carcase itself.
It looks like we've been hit with an early winter up here, typically there is little snow on the ground before Christmas. I've taken up downhill skiing again after many years and I'm kind of glad to see the snow, planning the first ski trip already.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The installation consists of mortising hinge recesses in the base and top of the armoire, one per hinge. A complementary recess is mortised into the top or bottom corner of the door frame, again one per hinge. Accuracy is key with knife hinge installs. In the photo above you notice a small spacer behind the knife hinge. This spacer has been measured from the edge of the carcase to the leading edge of the hinge on the door itself. A good reason for using this spacer is that I want to leave a consistent reveal between the rear edge of the door and the carcase edge. In my case, I've decided to leave less than 1/32 inch. This 1/32 inch is combined with the thickness of the remaining wood after hinge is centered on the door. The spacer makes it easy to mark where the hinge should be installed. The other mark for the hinge is the width of the knife hinge itself, or 3/8 inch in this case. The same spacer is used on each of the corners of the carcase.
Hinge installs on the tops and bottoms of the door frames are fairly straightforward. The center of the door frame is used as a reference and the hinge mortise is equal on either side, in this case approximately 3/16 inch. As a precaution, I fit the doors back into the carcase and confirm the outline of the door part of the hinge using the base or top hinge for a reference. Another important consideration is to create each mortise in a straight line and parallel to the carcase or door frames. The depth of the mortise is the thickness of the knife hinge leaf. The hinge pin straddles the corner, however this can be adjusted later in the fitting of the doors by sliding the hinge in or out a fraction of an inch..
I mortise the hinge recesses using a set of bench chisels, and much prefer this method. This method also allows me to install the knife hinges after the carcase is assembled which results in a more accurate installation. If there was a time you ever needed to exercise patience in woodworking, this would definitely be it. Carving out the mortises is a somewhat slow , tedious process, but as you can see the results are very satisfying. You will need very sharp chisels if you use this process. I've completed four base and top hinge installs, next are the door frame mortises and hinge installs. Afterwards, I install the doors and adjust.
I'm anxiously awaiting the final installation of the doors, afterwards I can move on to working on the interior of the armoire. The interior drawer section involves more detailed work.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
dy·nam·ic - Characterized by continuous change, activity, or progress
As a piece of furniture is being handcrafted, sometimes the design we originally envisioned can be improved on at different stages, or the original design can remain as is. Having this flexibility provides a continuous excitement for the furniture maker along with the benefit of improvising on the original design after seeing the furniture piece at various intermediary stages.
An excellent example is the original design of the door frames. I had chosen to form the vertical stiles a little thinner than the horizontal rails to accentuate the horizontal lines running across the door frames into one continuous shadow line.The other design element was the angled horizontal rails. After mocking up the door frames with panels inserted I found these to be a unnecessary details as the focal point of the doors is fundamentally the figured door panels. Often, too many design elements take away from the focus of a piece ... I believe in leaving as few detail elements as possible to have the major element stand out. I have left the door frame members instead at the same thickness, this only really made sense to me after having dry fitted the door frames and panels and applied to the armoire as the photo in an earlier post.
So here we have an instance of what I like to call "dynamic design", sometimes the beauty of a design is in its simplicity. Simplicity is one of the tenets of the minimalism philosophy. I have to admit that I am a fan of "minimalism", and have read one book on the subject so far. You tend to gain a different perspective on design after being exposed to the minimalism philosophy.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The techniques I use is to create the left door middle stile at 1 3/4 inches and keep the right door middle stile at 1 1/2 inches. The overlapping, complementary rabbets, once created, will leave both stiles at 1 1/2 inches width. Design dilemma solved!
The primary reason to have these overlapping rabbets is both a form and function issue. Wood doors tend to expand and contract with seasonal change, although much less with this frame and panel design, but nonetheless there is a small gap that narrows and widens where the doors meet. The overlapping rabbet handles this very well, providing wood behind the small gap resulting in no glaring gap between the doors and the doors interlock. These two features justify this extra step. In the photo above the rabbet detail can be seen and the door stile widths are once again of the same width, or at least the visible parts are.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
The panels were purposely left a fraction of an inch proud of the surface of the rails and stiles when I prepared them earlier. As a sanity check, I intend to fit each panel in its frame as a dry fit and then determine how much more I need to reduce the thickness of the raised part of the panel. This is an extra step, possibly unnecessary, but it leaves me with peace of mind that the panels are exactly flush with the door frame members.
Someone earlier asked to have more information on the rabbet detail where the doors meet, something I referred to in an earlier post. I'll describe it in my next post and also post a photo of the detail. In the photo above, I have the doors glued up with panels in place. Part of the design was to have as small a reveal as possible between the panels and the door frame rails and stiles, this to give the effect of a thick black shadow line surrounding the very light maple panels. I'm very satisfied with the result and from a few feet away this effect is obvious. It was necessary to get the reveal just right and spaced correctly all around. I'm going to spend some time now trimming the doors as I had left some corners with a fractional overhang as a safety margin.The combined width of the doors is wider than the sides of the armoire and I'll explain the logic behind this in my next post along with a paragraph about "dynamic design". The armoire is coming along nicely and beginning to take shape.
If you look out the window just behind the workbench you can see snow. Yes, we had an early winter snow storm up here this past day. Nonetheless, it was nice and toasty in the studio today, something about a pristine snowy setting that makes being in the studio that much more enjoyable.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
My next step after preparing the surfaces of the panels will be to rabbet the outside edges of each panel. The rabbet will match a groove in both the rail and stiles of each door panel. The reveal around the edge of each tiger maple panel and between the panel and door rail or stile needs to be uniform all around, a bit of a time consuming step to get just right.
I'm going to place the panels against the individual door frames, to have the door frame overlay the tiger maple panel, as this will allow me to adjust the graphics of the panels within the door frames for optimal effect. Once I've selected a nice pattern to capture, I'll scribe the outline on the panel and create the edging with this outline as a reference. Hopefully, in my next installment I'll have the door frames completely assembled and glued up.
Monday, November 19, 2007
It is preferable to make a mock-up of the door frame configuration but I did the next best thing and drew the new design and applied it directly to the carcase of jewelry armoire as in the previous photo. I'm taking a blind leap of faith at this point and basing the success of this modified design on a photo of an existing, but different cabinet along with my modified drawing.
At this point, I like the lines of the door frames and panel area and have decided to proceed and prepare the figured maple raised panels. I need to be judicious with this step as the reveal around the raised panel and the door frame needs to be uniform on four sides of the panel. I'm also implementing a cool rabbet between the door frames to have them overlap and not reveal a gap when the door frames expand and contract with seasonal change in humidity and temperature.
A photo of the figured maple door panels will be posted next, after I rabbet the edges and begin to fit them into the door frames. I'm kind of excited at this point and am looking forward to what the completed doors on the carcase look like. It's easy to rush things when anxiety sets in, and patience is a great virtue during some of these delicate and accurate fittings. Steps need to be followed in the correct order before the doors are glued together. Early on when the sketching of this armoire began, one of the proposals was to have one piece veneered doors. A good design alternative, it allows the full width of the individual doors to feature a nicely figured veneer without frame components taking away from the space. Another small advantage is the increased dimensional stability a multiple ply substrate with veneered surfaces provides. I'll be exploring this technique in future designs.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
As luck would have it, with the aid of my wife and some diligent searching, we stumbled onto the correct tiger maple board at a local exotic hardwood dealer. It is just the right width board and substantial thickness to accommodate the raised part. Simultaneous to this, I've had a change of heart about the design of the front doors. I'm beginning to prefer straight lines for the rails instead of the previous curved/angled rail design. I prefer this to be able to add a small design element, shadowing, into the design for the lower and upper rails. I will be discussing this with the client very soon and proceed from there.
In the photo, a layout of the doors with the straight lines is shown. The bottom rail is fractionally wider than the upper rail and the stiles. The vertical stiles would be set back fractionally to create the shadow effect and emphasize the fact that the top and bottom rails are extending to the edges of the door frames.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
The jewelry armoire slowly but surely comes together. I move to the front of the piece next and begin to work on the two hinged doors. These will also be frame and panel and I am hoping to use a figured piece of tiger maple I have. After resawing this piece of tiger maple I'll have a better look at the figure and then determine if the effect is sufficiently dramatic and contrasting to the cherry front door frames. I do all this next beginning with the resawing and then moving on to the sizing of the individual door frame members. Also want to mention that the door panels will be raised with a small flat field or reveal surrounding the individual panels.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
After the back panel components are sized to final sizes I need to create grooves on one edge of each rail and stile. The center stile will have two grooves, one groove for each panel. The grooves are part of the frame and panel construction and allow the two inner panels to float slightly within the frame. Dimensional changes of the two panels will then be accommodated within the frame. Frame and panel construction dates to the late middle ages and became more entrenched as furniture was placed in heated homes and buildings. Temperature and humidity variations cause wood to shrink and expand and some allowance needs to be designed in to accommodate this.
The back frame components are grooved and this operation is performed on the router table. Care is taken to orient the boards correctly against the fence of the table. I made certain to adjust the router bit to be exactly centered in the edges of the frame components. This is important in that the routed grooves will line up correctly when the frame components are assembled. The center stile will be attached differently from the outside rails and stiles.
Monday, November 12, 2007
One of James Krenov's philosophies is to finish the back of a cabinet well and to use frame and panel construction with hardwood panels. This extra step is very often skipped in modern furniture construction as it is considered the back of the furniture. As J. Krenov says, it often doesn't take much more time to complete the back properly, and dramatically enhances the beauty of a cabinet. You can notice the components for the back panel in the photo, these have been prepared and dimensioned to size. The back panel is comprised of two horizontal rails, two outside vertical stiles, a center stile, and two cherry panels.
I use hardwood throughout in this project including the back panels. I must also mention that I let the back panel frame components stabilize or in James Krenov parlance, attain "calmness". This is an important step as wood often reacts to environmental change, especially after milling and might cup or bow slightly until the outside surfaces have attained moisture equilibrium. This step consists of waiting a while after milling and before further processing of the components.The sides of the jewelry armoire are set back to allow for the overlapping front doors. The back frame and panel is inset into a groove on either side of the back of the armoire. The cherry is very light at this point, but over time and exposure to light it will develop a beautiful patina and become a dark shade of honey with reddish undertones.
The next step in this sequence is to create the grooves in the rails and stiles for the two back panels. Something I've learned over the years is to clearly mark all the individual pieces and their orientation, this keeps the confusion level to a bare minimum.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I've gone ahead and used time-proven dowel joints which are ideal for joining end grain to face grain, regardless of any orientation of panels. James Krenov developed a great technique which I am using to align the dowel holes of the side panels with the top and bottom panels. In the photo above, along with a side and bottom panel there is a small doweling jig also present. This jig is essentially an extension of a side panel with the same width and thickness. I accurately bored holes along the width of this jig and then use the jig to bore holes in the top, bottom panels and side panels. This technique ensures great accuracy and an important note is to secure the dowelling jig to any of the surfaces to have holes bored for dowels. To aid in the alignment, I've inserted two pins on either side of the doweling jig which serve to keep the jig aligned with the surface to have holes bored. With this technique, it is important to keep the reference surface of the jig clearly marked so that the holes are correctly transferred. After all this, I forgot to bore one hole as can be seen in the bottom panel, it was a simple thing to correct though .
Next is to finish plane and hand scrape the individual panels and to then assemble these panels into a carcase, I hope to have this done in the next day or two. Slowly but surely the armoire is coming together.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
One soon realizes how much patience and attention to detail this type of fine work demands. It is fairly easy to make a mistake and in the process waste a component of a furniture piece. The individual details are called elements and are added to a piece to both accentuate the piece and to add elegance. I am learning that good judgement is necessary to enhance a piece of furniture with these detail elements. It's sometimes best to add fewer rather than more elements to avoid simply having too busy graphics on the furniture.
Delicate hand tool skills are the main ingredient of this type of work. Good, sharp tools are also very important. I find myself picking up a optical loupe to examine the recesses and grooves I have prepared for inlay and stringing, this demonstrates how small and precise the work is. A few periods of furniture style in past centuries featured adornment of furniture with these fine detail elements, notably the Federal period of furniture. As I once mentioned, furniture often denoted the status of an individual in these periods and therefore more detail and ornamentation made the piece more alluring and exclusive.
I have prepared this sample of abalone inlay, a fan detail, dots and squares, a diamond ebony inlay and curved stringing which can be seen in the photo above. These are very nice touches to furniture in both my opinion and from the feedback I am receiving. It was a very constructive week with many new techniques and processes acquired.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Furniture also began to become more affordable as of the 18th and 19th century, more furniture makers existed and sound construction techniques began to become standardized. There are numerous periods over the past centuries and each of these had a style or styles associated with them. Additionally, each country had a style of its own within these periods. One can see how similar furniture design principles were adopted by successive countries over the different periods. Popular furniture styles which are widely recognized have familiar names such as English Chippendale, German Biedermeier, American Federal and Arts & Crafts, French Art Nouveau, Italian Rococo, etc. To be continued...
Monday, October 1, 2007
Once the main components, the table and base , were assembled together, the next step was to right the jointer from inverted. At this point the jointer is in stripped down form, without the motor, magnetic switch, rabbet ledge, fence assembly , etc. I had help to right it and afterwards installed the electrical cables, motor assembly, fence assembly, rabbeting ledge, knobs, cutterhead guard, etc. After moving it into its final spot, I set up the chip collection piping and ducting for the new jointer. A few adjustments later, and success! It joints wide boards very well, feels solid, and isn't very noisy.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I packed my set of tools and went to where it is located and performed the transaction. I knew beforehand from having already seen the jointer that it would need to be disassembled in as many parts as possible for ease of transport and coping with two sets of stairs at either location. I began disassembly with the help of Andy Woods of Woods & Co. I even brought a camera along to photograph the main units prior to disassembly for later use. Actually, I didn't mind disassembling it, it would provide me the opportunity to understand how this jointer is put together, specifically the moving mechanisms. A couple of hours later and we had it disassembled into manageable pieces for transport back to my studio. Two trips later, the jointer pieces were in my studio after which I took some time to clean them thoroughly and remove any old grease and dirt. The photo above are the jointer components gathered together after cleaning, and prior to assembly. Next, the assembly and adjustments.
Monday, September 17, 2007
The joinery will involve primarily mortise and tenons for the door members and multiple dowel construction for the main carcase. At the rear of the armoire there will be a frame and panel back which is completely rabbeted into the frame of the armoire. Interior joinery will primarily consist of dovetailed drawers. I haven't discussed the base of the armoire at this point, since it is not yet definite how I will assemble this. The armoire and base will be two separate sections for ease of transport and it generally makes much more sense to build this way. One feature of the armoire I am looking forward to working on are the tapered legs with contrasting toe caps. This is sort of uncharted territory for me and to top this off I hope to add some string inlay into the individual legs.
The armoire is designed to hide its contents completely for obvious reasons, so this was a no-brainer in the preliminary design criteria. I worked with the Golden rectangle or carcase ratios as much as possible, yet I needed to modify these proportions for both functional and aesthetic reasons. The functional reasons are basically the stability of the armoire given its height, width, and depth. The aesthetic (form) reasons are specifically to keep the depth of the armoire down to the minimum necessary. More about the design later as the project progresses...
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
In the studio, progress on the jewelry armoire is advancing with some final wood preparation. This involves thicknessing and dimensioning the individual components to the correct size as per the drawings. The door frame components need to have an extra length included to allow for the tenons. The tenons of the rails fit into the mortises of the stiles. Rails run horizontally, whereas stiles run vertically. Once the components of the jewelry armoire door frames have been dimensioned correctly, I place them together to make certain I have not made an error in my calculations. this is a form of sanity check. The door frame members typically define the width of the cabinet or armoire in my case, but this is wholly dependant on the hinging arrangement of the doors to the cabinet sides. If the doors overlap the sides completely, combined door widths define the cabinet width, if the doors are rabbeted into the cabinet (armoire) sides, there is a extra dimension on either side which is added to the door widths to determine cabinet width. These are all decisions made in the design process, however, they do need to be taken into consideration. I have also been preparing a couple of smaller pieces for an upcoming exhibition at a gallery.
In the next few days I begin the next phase of the project. This involves gluing up the individual components of the cabinet sides, top and bottom. Hopefully I won't run into any snags. After this is complete I begin to create the tiger maple panels for the doors. My aim is to have the doors assembled and glued before assembling the cabinet as a unit.