Saturday, December 8, 2007

Drawer case (2)...

My last post had me preparing the individual panels which comprise the drawer case. After hand planing and scraping the surfaces I temporarily assembled the panels and confirmed that the drawer case is perfectly square. More importantly, the dado grooves (dadoes) are perfectly lined up in the horizontal plane for each level of drawer. I return to all the checking and re-checking of measurements I performed before creating the dadoes to assure these dadoes would line up correctly. It is also important to have the individual panels perfectly square.

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

Drawer case (1)...

I'm in the process of milling and preparing the components of the drawer case. The drawer case consists of a top and bottom panel the width of the interior of the jewelry armoire, two side panels , the back, the horizontal drawer dividers, and a center vertical divider. After preparing the surfaces of each of the panels of the drawer case, I created a series of grooves to house the drawer dividers. The grain orientation of the drawer case is front to back, as is the main case, so the grooves are perpendicular to the grain orientation and are therefore dadoes. When creating dadoes such as these, it becomes somewhat important that their spacing is equidistant from each other and that the sides of each drawer compartment are parallel to each other. I took a considerable amount of time checking and re-checking my measurements,markings, and reference edges before creating the dadoes and any joinery used to keep the drawer case together.

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

Drawer case mockup...

Since the main case is fairly complete, I've begun to create the inner drawer case. The first step in the sequence is to get the proportions correct using a cardboard mock up of the drawer case. After a few iterations, the mock up in the photo is the preferred layout. The design considerations which I used are as follows:

Height of the drawer case
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

Doors installed...

I have the armoire case assembled. I'll substitute the word case for carcase from now on, less typing. The doors have been mounted with the knife hinges attached. I don't attach each and every screw to the knife hinge leaves at the moment, only one screw per leaf hinge. This allows me some flexibility if I do need to fine tune the door placement later. The front doors fit well and have a very small gap between the center stiles, very satisfactory at this point. In this photo you might notice the sheen on the case surfaces, namely the left side. This is accomplished solely through judicious hand scraping after assembly of the previously handplaned surfaces, no sandpaper has touched the case surfaces.

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.