Saturday, December 19, 2009

Beginnings of a Walnut Wall Cabinet

Knowing now, how big my cabinet is, it is shocking to see how big the planks were that I started with.  These were the black walnut planks that Byron and I came back with from Vancouver after a day of adventure.  We thought we had done well, and in some regards we did, but generally lumber yard selection is something that I still look forward to learning much more about.

As I explained in the previous post, but for those who heeded the warning and chose to skip it, I came to the decision that a wall cabinet would be my first piece.  Wood selection came full circle and I decided to use the walnut originally slotted to be my hall table.

Once those decisions were made, and knowing I only had four and a half weeks until Christmas, progress was crucial and mocking-up, templating and selection of graphics went quickly.

I moved on to doweling the carcass first, as the door was to be a frame and panel and wouldn't impose anything specific in terms of carcass shape or size.  This way basically you make a door to fit the carcass instead of vice-versa.

Next was the process of mocking-up the interior partitions and drawers as seen below.
 Some hinge making...  The hinges must be made early on so that the mortises that house the hinges can be cut prior to gluing up the carcass.

 Pressure buttons and leveler holes are also drilled at this time.  Much like the flipper-floppers we used on our wabi-sabis, the pressure button shown below is intended to secure the door when it is shut.  It's a cool little mechanical device made from a screw, a spring and a little wooden doughnut.

I'll continue to play catch-up over the holidays here.  I have lots more photos right up to where the cabinet left off for Christmas!

Wood selection kills the hall table

Warning: This is a long boring story and is only intended for those who have a keen interest in the psychological turmoil of fine woodworking.  Please feel free to skip to the next post.

The beginnings of this cabinet were a long and drawn out process that began as an idea for a hall table.  After purchasing what I thought was nice black walnut that failed to give me a  nice table top I began searching high and low through the wood room for something that would make a suitable replacement.  I scrubbed plank after plank of everything from french walnut, to arbutus, western maple, hard maple, curly sycamore, chinese elm and finally found a piece of red elm that would provide me with not only the size I needed but also the color and grain graphics that were to be crucial if the table was going to be doable. 

Content with my selection I began milling up the plank, deciding on the placement of each piece I needed from the board.  As I got further into the wood, with thickness being at a critical point, I made a pass through the thickness planer and uncovered an imperfection in what was to be my table-top.  To some it seemed like a feature and many said it added character and that "it's wood!, not laminate"  but I couldn't get past the fact that it looked like a stain.  Especially in the context of a table top, I couldn't live with it and thus was once again left with no suitable wood, and now out 3 or 4 more days.  Determined I went back on the hunt for a piece but soon realized that it wasn't meant to be.  I was discouraged, frustrated and had stopped having fun.  Something had to give and so it did.  I asked Robert if he had a few minutes to talk and we came to the conclusion that maybe for now, the table couldn't be done.  I project cannot be forced onto a piece of wood if the wood isn't offering what you need.  I shared with him a sketch I had put together of a wall cabinet that although simple would at least get me back on track, working and having fun.  I walked out feeling much better, not having given up on the table but simply having delayed it for now.

I felt like I had wasted a week, having accomplished nothing but with the help of Robert and all those around, son realized that wood selection is a huge part of the process, equal to craftsmanship in terms of importance and sometimes it requires more time than planned to find just the right piece of wood.

Below is a mock-up of what the table would have looked like and perhaps one day will look like...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Finishing of Wabi-Sabi

Wow!  I am verging on failure when it comes to the mission I stated at the top of this here blog.  As I explained I always struggle with keeping up to date with such thing.  I am however going to make up for it in the next few days and try to bring everything up to speed.  In my defense, our internet connection was down for a little over a week, but I realize that that is not much of a defense.

So since the last post we have finished our Wabi-Sabi Cabinets.  I was thrilled with how mine turned out.  Throughout the process I was convinced that little mistakes would surely amount to a poor finished product but I was surprised at how quickly such things are forgotten and I was left with a little piece that summed up everything I'd learned and showed how far I had come.

Ok so get to some pictures already!

 Fitting the drawer.  We've learned a technique that JK referred to as "let-go" in which you pull out the drawer and it grabs just a little at the very end which stops it.  Basically the drawer pocket is a wee bit bigger at the back than the front and the drawer matches so when you pull the drawer out the let-go kicks in and it feels really nice and smooth.  I made my finger-pull hole nice and big for my fat thumbs.

 The red cedar drawer bottom slides in from the back into grooves cut in the sides and front.

The shelf is held up by what is referred to as consoles.  We carved these out of some pear wood because it is nice to carve.

The back panel is a floating panel held in a frame and then fitted to the back of the cabinet.  I made the wall hangers from brass stock and once the door was fit and installed, it was done!

Gotta love the "character" on the inside of the door.  We started with a big piece off of a plank and what we found inside was what we worked with.  This picture shows the book-matched panel nicely.
My first real project is well under way and I will get caught up on blogging that asap!