Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Back panels (1)...

The creation of back panel continues... I spent considerable time fitting each of the stiles and rails as well as the individual panels for each of the cabinets. There is hardly any room for error here so this is time well spent. There are different design options for the frame and panel back panel, namely the orientation of the stiles and rails. I could have chosen to extend the rails from end to end and instead have three shorter stiles, but I decided on the longer stile option. Often, my choices in the design of cabinets and their individual components is determined by the wood I have available as well as aesthetic considerations. In this case, the short rails, longer stiles are an alternative approach.

The selection and orientation of the actual panels within the frames was interesting to say the least. I like many of the choices in graphics, each one presenting an exciting view of the fantastic ambrosia maple figure. Unfortunately, the lower section of the inside of each cabinet back panel will be obscured however as I intend to install a set of drawers.. to be decided soon. With this in mind, I selected a particular area of each of the panels to be visible. Each of the photos both represents a different cabinet and a different view of the cabinet. Nothing is glued at this point, all held together with clamps and tape. Next, I begin to create the interior layout for the drawers I will be installing. As well, I will be final trimming the front door panels and installing knife hinges. I'll also probably mock up some cardboard drawer fronts to get a better idea of the layout I feel is right for these cabinets, possibly each cabinet will have a slightly different drawer layout.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Back panels...

In the photo at left, the doors for each of the cabinets are somewhat more trimmed than before and next need to be scraped. The capped outside edges are also visible in this photo. Moving on from the front of the cabinet... next I begin work on the frame and panel back. I milled the frame components, the rails, vertical stiles, center stile and created grooves in each of these components for the ambrosia maple panels. These panels will float within the frames. The frames are divided vertically to add rigidity to the back panel assembly and to create a more interesting aesthetic. I had the choice of dividing the frame horizontally but decided on this approach due to the limited widths of ambrosia maple I had available. I've also had success with this orientation in the past.

The frame itself is marginally larger than the recess at the back of the cabinet, this to allow for final trimming once the frame and panels are completely assembled and glued together for each of the cabinets. In the photo I mock up the frame and slip the panels underneath to get a better idea of how I want to orient the panels with each of the frames. I decided to work on one frame at a time to avoid any confusion and to be able to focus entirely on each frame and panel assembly.
I will be spending some time with this part of the cabinets as I want to be confident that everything fits just right and the panels with each of the frames are oriented to the best of my ability.

Capping the doors...

To fulfill the desired seamless wraparound ambrosia maple aesthetic, I decided to cap the outside vertical edges of each set of doors. Carefully matching some narrow remnants of ambrosia maple to both the side panels and the respective doors for each cabinet, I think I succeeded in this endeavor. The cap edges are a little thicker and wider than necessary, but this is simply to allow for trimming with a hand plane afterwards.
Another reason for thinner cap edging is to not present a grain conflict with the door fronts. Thinner cap edging are not very noticeable from the front whereas they present a full graphic when viewing from the side of the cabinet. In the photo, I am judiciously hand planing the extra width I allowed for each of the cap edges. I use a smaller hand plane to allow me more control of the highs and lows of the cap edge without disturbing the front skin of the door.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The doors...

Since I now have the cabinet case temporarily assembled I took the opportunity to create the door panels. The doors are also veneered both front and back, the front is ambrosia maple whereas the back is a soft maple which matches the interior of the cabinet. There are a few steps involved in veneering as I mentioned when I created the side panels, namely applying bake-ins to the substrate, levelling these bake-ins to match the level of the substrate and applying the veneers. Not quite so simple in reality though... the door panels need to be accurately measured to accommodate the bake-ins and the center part where the doors meet. There is an overlap here and it needs to be done correctly, hopefully I got it right.

Once the substrates are prepared and accurately measured, I spend a little time reviewing my choice of ambrosia veneers for the fronts of the doors. I place them in different orientations to confirm my original choice is correct, and if not change it around. This part is actually fun and I also managed to get a second opinion from someone else. Afterwards, some trimming of all the veneers to slightly overlap the substrates and off to the vacuum veneer press. A few hours later the first of the door panels is ready, aside from the next phase of trimming. At the very least I can begin to visualize how part of the cabinet will look like once completed. I'm confident I have the aesthetics right for each of the cabinets. I can safely say that a veneered cabinet can easily take twice the amount of work to create, in this case these cabinets are sort of hybrids, some solid panels, some veneered panels. You can see some of the tight curl exhibited in the front panels. It's kind of unusual to find figured wood with both interesting graphics and colours as well as other elements such as tight curl. The highly figured woods became veneers and in my small way I make very efficient use of some rare and not so rare woods by using them sparingly throughout the cabinet.