Thursday, November 15, 2007

Door design...

I left off having completed the back panel. I've been looking forward to working on the front doors for quite some time now as they are a large part of the focal point of the piece. I had some nicely figured tiger maple also known as curly maple squirreled away for quite some time. After a change of heart, I decided to go shopping for a more dramatic piece of tiger maple with which to make the door panels. A couple of options were available to me, either bookmatch each door panel from a narrower board ( more commonly available) or make an effort to find a wider board and have each door panel one continuous piece. The thickness of the tiger maple board also becomes important since I also intend to raise each panel within its door frame.

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

Back panel installed...

I left off with a few components which comprise the frame and panel back panel. These consisted of outside stiles, a center stile along with two resawn cherry panels. The frame components have been accurately sized and grooved for the panels. I use slip joints to assemble the frame along with the center stile. The frame is dry fitted along with both panels to make certain there will be no issues while gluing up. A small gap surrounding the panels is purposely left to allow for the solid wood panels to expand and contract with seasonal changes. After some judicious hand planing the frame and panel assembly is nicely fitted into the back of the jewelry armoire carcase. Before it is permanently attached , I perform some final smooth planing and scraping of each of the surfaces of the back panel as this is my only good opportunity to do this correctly and on a flat surface.

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


I left off with the bare carcase and the components for the back panel milled and dimensioned correctly. I handplane the surfaces of all the components as a final step to get the correct thickness and width along with preparing the edges. The handplaned surface becomes exceptionally smooth as any small milling marks are cleaned off. In this photo I am using a jointer plane, one of my longest planes. This provides me a perfectly straight , smooth surface. I place the back panel components on a planing board with stop, this works extremely well.

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

Beginning to take shape..

I have the carcase assembled now. Before assembling I hand scraped the individual panels, both inside and out, this should be done at this point since it is becomes more difficult as the jewelry armoire progresses. Since the carcase needs to be glued up with all panels, the glue-up step can lead to some scrambling. All the clamps need to be in place and ready, I use a wood mallet with a small board to get the joints tight just before clamping.

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.