Saturday, December 22, 2007

Armoire stand (2)...

I've gone ahead and did some decorative detail work on the front apron of the stand for the armoire, and also managed to squeeze some Christmas shopping in. Since this is essentially a jewelry armoire, I decided on a diamond theme for the inlay detail. The pattern on the apron creates, at least in my mind, a semblance that the stand is holding the armoire up. The center diamond in holly balances out the theme and provides a contrast to the outside blackwood half-diamonds and stringing. As with anything woodworking related, the inlay work involved precise measurements since the pattern is symmetric. Working on and creating the inlay detail was immensely enjoyable to me although a little stressful at times since the spare apron I had set aside somehow developed a ding. The stand is completely assembled now and has been test-fitted with the armoire attached. I'll use wood pins to connect the armoire and stand together, this will make it simple to separate the two pieces for transport and also for any other reason that might come up.

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

Armoire stand (1)...

I've just about completed the legs and aprons for the (cabinet) armoire stand after allowing some time for the wood to release any internal tensions which might have developed. These internal tensions are brought out in the resawing work I performed for both the leg blanks and aprons. I began with a wide plank of 8/4 cherry for the legs and ripped four leg blanks from this blank. I oriented each leg blank on the plank to attain the best possible grain configuration, in this case a rift-pattern with no face grain on any of the leg faces. This is a little more wasteful of wood, but it's definitely worth the time spent. The legs blanks have a very pleasing straight-grained orientation on all four faces. In the photo, I marked the pattern of the grain on the ends of the legs and it is slightly visible.

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

Drawer build (3)...

The drawer pulls are now complete and installed. I decided on blackwood as per the original design. The pulls are rectangular, 2 inches long , .75 inches deep (visible part) and approximately .25 inches thick. The width and length of the pulls was a matter of experimentation and as a mock-up I hot glued two to three different sizes to a drawer front blank I had as a spare.

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.