Friday, October 24, 2008

Cabinet stand...

I assembled the stand and am test fitting it in the photo a few hours after glue up. It fits well and is in very good alignment with the cabinet. This is a concern otherwise the stand looks more like an afterthought than designed with the cabinet if it doesn't fit right. The twin stretchers at the bottom work out well and introduce a small focal point into the design. It is quite a small feat getting the rails and stretchers in position for the glue up and a good point to stop and plan this out well. I assembled the sides initially, then put everything together with the front and rear rails and stretchers. The upper and lower rails are mortised into the legs with single tenons, whereas the twin stretchers are dowelled into the bottom side rails.

I am quite pleased at the aesthetics of the piece and the harmony between the cabinet and stand. I needed to spend some time at the edge treatment phase of all the stand components. The edges of each component are slightly chamfered with a small hand plane, then the edge transition is touched with a very fine sanding block to knock out any sharp edges. Since this is all done by hand, I find myself counting the exact number of strokes with the hand plane, in this case two. It is recommended that all the components be completed in one pass to avoid confusion. In other cases, where multiple passes are necessary, counting the handplane strokes is a good technique.

The stand is also beech and all the front and side facing components have non-descript grain pattern, straight grain for the most part, to not introduce any crazy graphics which take away from the main focal point, the cabinet.

I'm kind of anxious at this point to complete the interior of the cabinet, create the drawers and a small partition, then the pulls, so I can begin to apply finish. I'm curious to see how the figure of the door panels comes out. Of course, I can always wet the surfaces with naptha to temporarily see the figure pop, but I can wait a few more days.

I had a little deliberation deciding on the final height of the cabinet and settled for a 55 inch height , along with a second opinion from my better half. Having the piece too low and it begins to look like a credenza , too high and the stand begins to look spindly. I also wanted to provide an opportunity to see the cabinet as a whole, including a partial view of the top. Accessibility and visibility of the cabinet interior is also important as this is somewhat of a showcase cabinet, and my wife and I did take this into consideration.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cabinet stand...cont'd

I have resumed work on the beech cabinet in the past few days. I've rethought the design of the cabinet stand and made some changes. The original design called for four upper rails mortised into the legs. I would need to have wider front, rear and side apron rails to maintain the strength and integrity of the stand. Rather than this, I have decided on narrower top apron rails and move some support to the bottom of the stand in the form of stretchers instead. The aesthetics of this are more pleasing to me, very much like dividing the load at the top and bottom of the cabinet stand.

The leg dimensions remain the same, instead I divide the original upper rails into two components per rail and use the narrower component at the bottom of the stand. The strength and integrity of the cabinet stand should be maintained with this design along with more pleasing aesthetics, and more subtle, smaller components. I should have the stand assembled within the next day or two. In the meantime, I need to replace one of the components in the stand, a front top rail. In the handplaning effort I was a bit overzealous with this particular rail and the dimensions are no longer right, a little too thin. Rather than handplane the other rails to this dimension, I would rather replace this rail instead.

With significant hand planing, it becomes more important to maintain keen edges on the plane irons. The dullness of the irons sneaks up on you, and before you know it the handplane is struggling to produce fine shavings. I stop occasionally to sharpen the plane irons, otherwise the temptation is to increase the depth of cut with dull irons and all of a sudden they grab and tearout follows.

It's amazing how much the weather has changed in the span of two to three weeks in these parts. It was early fall weather a few days ago, now I hear some wet snow is arriving overnight. It should be nothing significant and late fall will resume, I hope.