Building Up My Library (III)

Part three of a series. I’m using some left over wood and throwing together a bookcase for my home. A quick project in between other projects ’tis all….

Today I got about half a day’s worth of work in, and started out with a little planing work on the lower carcase panel:

With the 60˚ plane, this is straightforward. With a 42˚ plane, sometimes it works great and sometimes the wood tears out horribly, with no apparent way to predict it. I chose not to experiment, and was happy with the surface produced by the steep-angled plane.

Next, I tried the fit of that lower panel to the sides:

Clamped up, this side needs no further fettling on the sword tip miter:

The other side needed a little trimming to fit right.

Then I made up a kick panel to fit under the lower carcase board and to the sides of the carcase verticals. This panel is of radial grain (aka VG) orientation, and also made of Canary Wood. I formed a small bead on the lower edge, and relieved the rest of the material off the face using a table saw. Then I dressed the face with the plane, followed by a little chisel paring:

It’s such a pretty wood when freshly cut, but, like Padauk, doesn’t hold it’s color. Too bad.

Here’s a view of the kick panel fitted into the lower carcase piece, which I dadoed to receive it:

I was thinking of mortise and tenoning the kickboard in, but elected just to house it – the small rebate you can see on the end helps lock it in place to the side carcase, which I also dadoed. I felt the mortise and tenoning wasn’t going to add much.

Then I tried the fit again, with the kick panel installed:

You can see how I made use of the slight upward jog in the front face grain of the kick panel, centering it to the carcase.

A closer view of one corner:

All for today. Thanks for coming by, and comments always welcome. –>on to post 4

7 Replies to “Building Up My Library (III)”

  1. Chris,

    This is looking really good! I was one of your readers who asked for you to blog and I am glad I did. Your perfect-fitting joinery continues to amaze me. The only sad thing is this makes me realize how bad my attempts are at cutting joints. Anyway, your joinery skills are something to strive for,


  2. That's a nice little detail at the bottom of the kick panel, added on or sawn from one piece?

    I think the attractiveness if the 45 degree miters is much enhanced when the faces are rounded, and it adds a whole different interesting and subtle dimension to the piece.

    If you don't mind a little criticism meant as encouragement (has this blog ever encountered criticism?), you might find that trusting the standard angle hiragana to do your planing without tear out, bringing your skills up to the potential, instead if going to a scraper plane, might serve you better in the long run.

  3. PhilM and Dale, your comments are most appreciated and too kind.


    yes, that bead on the kick panel is one-piece. I never glue on beading.

    The 45˚ miters and the rounded fronts – that is the very next step in fact. The shelves too, though they are held back a bit from the front edges of the carcase. What are ya, some kinda mind reader? I did that treatment on the bubinga step tansu from a few years back and like the look as well.

    As for “trusting” the standard plane on the Canary wood, well, I've used my regular planes on this material a fair bit – mostly on the French sawhorse project from last year. More than half of the time it would plane okay, but it sure tears out easily when it wants to – altogether unexpectedly even with the plane set up as best I can. I'll have the board with the grain running downhill, plane one side perfectly, flip it over and rotate 180˚, and then it tears out. And when the grain is running up and down, well, even worse of course. Probably someone out there – yourself perhaps – could plane this with a standard plane and no tear out, but I'm not there yet.

    I find the finish off the 60˚ with no chip-breaker is quite acceptable and I don't think, come to think of it, that the surface finish is appreciably different than the one I get with the 42˚ finishing plane (which is an Ichihiro with a very tight mouth, chipper, and great steel).

    Still, I imagine it is possible to plane it with a lower angle plane, and accept your constructive comment in the spirit it was intended.


  4. Chris just wondering why you didn't do the twisted version of the joints. Still think the work quality is just great.

  5. A number of years ago, I recall getting inspired by a cabinet maker friend from Japan, who came over to work with me in the shop in California. I was having a heck of a time getting a good finish when planing some highly figured Purple Heart. After a couple adjustments to the die on one of his planes, he was able to get excellent results with the difficult wood. It inspired me, a sort of guiding light for the future into the depths of the capabilities of the Japanese smoothing plane. Henceforth, any inability to plane without tear out, I always think of my friend, and consider the less than desired results to be my failure, not the tools. That is why I mentioned it, some testimony to the struggle in life, or something.

  6. Sinjin,

    I gave some thought to doing the twisted dovetails, and I guess in the end it boiled down to the desire to do something a little different. With every project I do, I try to learn some new thing or add some new thing, if only a little detail.

    Twisted details are one of those details that really only a minority of other cabinetmakers or woodworkers would notice, and as they aren't any stronger than other forms of carcase joints, or any more attractive really, I'm not sure they are worth the bother a lot of the time. Not to say I won't do them again, but I'm not quite so enamored of them as I once was.


    yes, I imagine that highly figured purpleheart would be tough to work, and take note of your anecdote. I wonder though – what WERE those “adjustments to the dai on one of his planes”? More hollow/less hollow? smaller land in front of the mouth or a bigger land? A different contour to the hollow? Or did he fiddle with the mouth opening?

    I think that it is great to reach a place where something seems impossible and then have someone come along and show you that it isn't. It's even nicer to find out what the missing pieces of the puzzle are at the same time.


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