A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (33)

Fitting the cap rail assembly to frame #1:

I feel like I’ve been doing a fair share of mortising lately in getting these cap rails on. There’s a lot of joinery in this support stand, that’s for sure.

The cornice will have hammer-headed rods fitted to mortises with an internal step which serves as a stop:

Two pinned hammerhead draw bars per corner makes eight of these units altogether will lock the cornice down to the frame. Those dots that you see on the miter were a layout mistake. Better a layout mistake than a cutout mistake, that’s for sure. Always happy to catch any sort of layout mistakes in time!

These miters should close up tightly when the wedging pins, shachi sen, are fitted. I’m glad to have a decent fit at this stage, without any pins or wedges driven into position. I think I have reasonable fidelity to the alignments I was seeking.

Frame 1 with cap rail fitted:


Now, next day, fitting cap rail assemblies to frame #2:

The light in the shop was especially nice at that juncture.

I needed to set the shaper up for a different task, and thought a picture of the Aigner back fence shaper accessory, before its removal, might be of interest to some:

Worked like a charm. That accessory is a $500 sort of thing, but it’s well worth it. It wouldn’t be hard to fabricate an approximation of it, but having the digital scale is nice and it is stoutly made.

The two stands, as they uh, stand now:

Another view:



Meanwhile, the shedua I re-sawed the other day was reduced some more, sheddua-ing a few pounds  to be sure, and here are the boards which will be the stock for the 18 drawer fronts I will make:


Today I also fitted the threaded inserts to the legs, and I made use of a special tool I designed to help with that job. ‘Tool’ sounds rather grand. I converted one of the spare leveler feet from prior milling operations to use as both a drilling and as a fastener-mounting jig.

Here is the drilling jig about to be placed in the end of the leg:

The slid down into in place:

A 1/2″ brad point drill provided a flat-bottomed hole, and was fitted with a stop to control the depth:

Drilling compete:

The result:

The brad point dimple in the center is actually the surface of the tenon. The end grain cut here is at 90˚, so you can see the modified (rhomboidal) cross section of the leg overall in contrast to the square mortise.

The following parts comprise the same drilling jig put to use as (grand title coming up…) a threaded insert fitting tool:

Yours for $29.95. Well, not too far off that actually…  The parts comprise, left to right: a shouldered 1/2″ bolt,  the drilling guide jig, and 3/8″ threaded insert. Note that the insert is facing in the correct direction and that the slot on the insert is what makes it self-tapping. It is not a slot for a screwdriver.

Assembled for use:

The brass guide jig fits first in its mortise, slides down a short way until the end of the insert meets the start of the bored hole, at which point an Allen key is put to use to thread the fitting in:

The slot on the end of the insert, like the end of a tap, facilitates cutting a thread as the insert is screwed in. As the bolt is tightened down the brass guide is slid further down to aid in obtaining increasingly better registration to the mortise. It was important to me to put the insert into the leg in a straight line. I guess that much is obvious, huh?

Previous methods I have tried in service of the same idea have gotten me close to a well fitted leveler foot, however sometimes I found the line of the adjusting bolt in the leg was slightly misaligned to the insert, and the feel of the bolt turning slightly worse than I might like as things tightened into place. Functional, yes, but not dialed in – that is the difference between the previous result and what I wanted. So, this new and more precise jig I developed ties together tasks of boring the hole and of fitting the insert. It was the next solution to try, and it seems to have worked well.

After a bit of trial and error with the leg removed from the frame so I could see what was afoot in the mortise, I determined that the underside of the head of the shouldered bolt needed to come down until  it pinched a 5/32″ (4mm) gage block:

Removing the jig, the insert is now at a reasonably precise – and repeatable – hole depth :

The depth of the insert is set so as to have the tip of the insert, all threads engaged, just about crest out at the lower end grain wall of the mortise – you can just make out the threaded insert tip in the photo:

I put the stretchers as low on the legs as I could for maximum strength as a structural member, and the inserts up the leg as far up as possible to work properly with the leveler foot. These hardware details can be a pain in the ass, but they need to be paid attention to or they can bite you in that same ass later on.

I cut up a little more shedua today. Here then is the stock for the back panels used on the upper sliding doors:

I was getting a bit of tear out from this material in the planer, whether taking 0.1″ (2.5mm) passes or 0.03″ (.7mm) passes, and even with skewing the board somewhat in the feed. I tried this and that, to no avail. Like the figured bubinga, I have to stay a good 1/8″ (3mm) fat on each face with this material when at this stage of the milling. These boards will be decked in the mill next, as that will not tear out the wood.

And these are the leveler feet, now back from the machinist and with bronze thrust washers and extra thick snap rings fitted:

The bolts will be trimmed in length a fair amount, and I have to mill the compound bevel on the bottom of the foot yet. There’s a lot of little details to attend to with these leveler feet.

I’ll deal with that soon enough. All for today, I hope you managed to grind your way through with undue torment and distress. On to post 34.

6 Replies to “A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (33)”

  1. Looking great Chris! Those frames are incredible works in their own right, going to be wonderful foundations for the cabinet.

    I see the beginnings of the base to cabinet connection on their way, watching closely and with great interest.

  2. Chris, do you find the Shedua harder/softer as compared to the Bubinga? I don't mean regarding the tear-out from the planing but when it comes to tweaking any areas/joints by hand. From the 2nd photo, it would seem to be nicer to work with then the Bubinga. With the straighter grain it almost invites some hand/chisel work.
    Great work!

  3. Joe,

    thanks for the question.

    My experience with shedua is limited so far to re-sawing, jointing and planing, all by machine, and the impression I have formed so far is that it is just as hard to work as bubinga, and like figured bubinga, is quite prone to tear out. My planer knives are likely a little dull, and carbide knives are never the sharpest possible cut, but I can only take the material so far by conventional means. And the prospect of trying to hand plane 1/4″ off of the panels with a scraping plane carries no appeal whatsoever. The mill will do the job.

    There will be some joinery on the drawer fronts of course, and that will be tackled with a mix of routing/milling and hand tools. That's how I do most of my work.


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