Thursday, March 13, 2008

Door panels (2)...

I now have the door panels assembled and roughly fitted to the cabinet front enclosure. In the previous post I mentioned that I had stumbled on to some nicely figured European beech. This is an excellent example of the concept and term dynamic design I described in a much earlier post. As much as I like to follow through with a pre-existing design, when an opportunity presents itself and I can enhance a design,a strong consideration is given to seizing this opportunity. My original design was nebulous regarding the front doors, I had some sort of inlay in mind as an embellishment. The figure I have found in these slices of European beech are, in my opinion, a more natural embellishment and if oriented correctly, dramatically change the front graphics of the cabinet.

Some judicious resawing and a short time later and I had enough veneer slices to create the bookmatched veneers for the fronts of the door panels. I utilize straight-grained beech veneers for the back of the door panels. The veneers are edge jointed prior to assembling together to form each of the four sheets for the two door panels. I take great care in veneering the substrates for the door panels and make sure that the substrates are perfectly flat and smooth since the veneers will telegraph any bumps or surface irregularities into the top surface.

In the photo, I have the door panels mocked up in the cabinet front to determine if the aesthetics are both correct and pleasing. I'm not looking for complete symmetry at this point and this is obvious in the detail of the figure of the individual door panels. There is instead, a partial symmetry in the door graphics which makes us more aware of the natural growth pattern of wood.

Next I make preparations for installation of the knife hinges for the doors after some final fitting of the doors within the cabinet opening.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Door panels...

I have begun work on the front doors in the past day or so. I'm not sure if you recall, but in an earlier post I decided to create the doors of the cabinet as veneered panels rather than solid wood. The primary reason for this is the width of each of the doors and the large expansion and contraction coefficient of the solid wood, along with the exceptional stability of veneered panels. Although I had originally intended to use quarter-sawn wood, the expansion rate is still uncomfortably large with the approximate 13 inches of width for each door. The first part of creating the individual doors is to have a straight, flat and solid substrate. I have selected multi-ply baltic birch for the substrate, the virtues of this wood are dimensional stability and strength. It is very well suited for use as a substrate for veneering.

After cutting the pieces for each door to approximate size, I added some solid beech edging to all four sides of each panel. This allows me to overlap the veneer the full expanse of each panel and in turn I gain solid wood at each of the ends and sides. As part of the design I need to have solid wood at the junction of the doors to be able to create a rabbeted lip. The strips of beech I use along with the substrate together provide me with two oversized door panels which I will trim after veneering.

While the glue is setting on the substrate door panels, I take the opportunity to lay out some veneer pieces from solid European Beech stock I have. Once the stock is marked I begin to resaw the veneers. This operation is fairly slow as each piece of veneer needs to be sawn fairly uniform in thickness and with minimal saw marks and due to the depth or width of the veneers, the stock can only be passed through the bandsaw at a low feed speed. While laying out the veneers I stumbled across some nicely figured stock which I will use to create the veneers for the front of the doors. This was not anticipated and a welcome surprise, the inherent beauty of wood and the surprises it holds. I now need to spend a little more time bookmatching the figured veneer for each door panel. Hopefully this will work out and the veneered sheets come out fine.

Next I will continue to work on the veneers and use the individual veneer slices to create sheets large enough to cover each side of the door panels. Working with thin sheets of veneer like this involves careful attention to their fragile nature. Although the resawn veneers I am creating are an order of magnitude thicker than commercial veneers, they can still be fragile.