Friday, March 21, 2008

Contrasting stiles...

A cherry cabinet on stand I built three years ago had developed a small bow in the inside vertical stile of the right hand door. This happened a few weeks after I completed it. I kept telling myself I would one day either make some new doors or replace the bowed stile in the right hand door. Well, I finally decided to do this. I hunkered down , disassembled the right hand door and replaced both the inside lipped stile and the top rail. The cherry cabinet was originally finished with multiple thinned coats of super blonde shellac. Cherry develops a wonderful color and patina as it ages. There is no sense in staining this particular wood as the natural aging process and exposure to light and air provide the most beautiful color. We had this cabinet around for the past three years as it slowly developed the cherry patina. It is sometimes difficult to appreciate how much of a color change has actually occurred since the cabinet ages uniformly.

Well, I found out how much it aged and developed a dark color when I began to replace parts of the right hand cabinet door. The photo has the inner lipped stile and the top rail as fresh, new wood. I made sure to have these two pieces acclimate in my studio for a couple of weeks. The contrast is incredible... with nothing originally applied to the cherry cabinet but super blonde shellac and wax, no stain of any type applied. I took this photo to be able to show any prospective clients just how much cherry changes over time.

I notice the issue of either staining or leaving cherry to develop it's own aged color comes up occasionally in forums and the overwhelming advice given is to let it develop its own color over time. When you see the difference, it is easier to accept this advice.

I thought I would share this..

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Door lip and rabbet...

Rather than leave an open gap between the doors, even a small one, it is much preferred to create a mating set of lip and rabbet along the inner edges of the front door panels. This serves to provide a positive closure of the doors and masks the very small reveal between the doors. In this particular case , I create an outside lip or rabbet on the right hand door as this is the first door opened. The method I utilize is to mark the outline of the rabbet, in my case 1/4 in. X 1/4 in. and begin to remove material at the edge of the right hand door. The wood removed is part of the hardwood edging I installed within the door panel edges prior to veneering. The tool I use is a skew rabbet block plane with adjustable fence. This particular plane is based on the Stanley No. 140 plane. I added a wood auxiliary fence to the plane to extend the bearing surface of the plane against the edge of the door panel.

This process went along fairly well without any surprises and afterwards I re-installed the door and began to fit the mating edge to it. This rabbet will mate perfectly with the right hand door edge. Rather than concern myself with a slightly wider left hand door I add a lip of the same wood and grain orientation to the inner edge of the left door instead. This allows me to create two identically sized door panels and since veneer is involved, the complexity of the process is simpler if the door panels are of equal dimensions.

I currently have the left hand door rabbeted edge in the process of glue-up and afterwards I will perform any small trimming to ensure the fit is perfect between the doors. There is a small, slightly greater than 1/32 in. gap between the doors at the moment which will have less of a reveal apparent once the lipped edges are created and installed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Door panels (4)...

Once the mortises for the knife hinges are successfully created and care is taken to make certain the offsets are uniform and the depth of each knife leaf is consistent, the next step is to temporarily install the doors while fitting each door to the cabinet. The reveal around each door is important as well as any small differences in how the doors hang within the cabinet frame. In this photo the cabinet is reversed in orientation top to bottom for me to work on the fitting. The left door is in the photo. The knife hinges have a very small amount of leeway for me to adjust the doors so the reveal at both the top and bottom and the center part between doors is uniform.

I also need to be conscious of how the outside edges fit the cabinet , they need to be parallel and in the same plane as the cabinet sides. The fitting of the doors can be somewhat time consuming but in my opinion this needs to be done correctly at this stage or the visual impact of a non-uniform reveal will be very apparent later.

After completing this fitting and knife hinge adjustment I will be creating the lip at the juncture of the doors in the middle of the cabinet. The lip serves to hide any open space between the doors and also to create an interlocking, positive closure for the doors. The right hand door will have a rabbeted lip whereas the left hand door will have a additional piece of beech added to the rear of the center edge of the door to form a mating lip. To maintain grain matching I have pieces of beech left over from the same plank I used to resaw the veneers earlier.

We have plenty of snow up here at this time , more than the average winter, and my wife and I will be leaving for a skiing trip at a resort next week. We're both crazy about spring skiing and there is plenty of nice weather coming up.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Door panels (3)...

After the doors are fitted into the cabinet opening the next step is to layout and create the hinge mortises for the knife hinge pairs. Each door has one pair of knife hinges as they come in pairs. I use spacers and my small adjustable square to make certain the doors are spaced uniformly from the cabinet case. This is important as the door reveal all around needs to be uniform. After the hinges mortises are marked the process of creating the recesses is accomplished with small chisels and a small hammer.

The hinge markings are transferred from the doors to the cabinet to maintain accuracy.Creating the hinge mortises with hand tools is somewhat of a pleasant task although it can take a while. Care needs to be exercised with grain orientation as the grain is reversed depending on which corner of the cabinet is being mortised. I use both chisel bevel down and back down orientation to remove waste from the hinge recesses. The outline of the hinge and its offset from the edge of the cabinet and doors is fairly important.

Once this is accomplished, removing material from the recess is fairly foolproof. I remove wood from the hinge recess in stages, exercising care not to go too deep in one pass of the chisel.