A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (40)

Finishing up some work on the ‘ice cube trays’ – fitting the outboard drawer runner support pieces to the front and rear rails:

The frames were then disassembled as the main vertical dividers needed further millwork. I am always striving to keep the number of times which parts are assembled to an absolute minimum, as the fitting compresses the material slightly and it never springs all the way back to original it seems. The initial fits therefore are quite tight, however I have to also take care that things are not so tight that they are difficult to take apart again or cause damage when separated. It’s a balancing act of sorts. In many cases, applying ki-goroshi to the parts mitigates the issue to an extent. It’s easily done with mortise and tenon connections, and a little trickier with other joint forms.

The next components to be dealt with in this build are the two main horizontal shelves in the cabinet:

Originally I had thought to make these two shelves out of one solid board each, however I also wanted the parts to be thicker than the surrounding framework, especially the upper shelf’s front rail, which also supports the sliding doors and has tracks milled in the upper surface. To do those in a solid plank would have made for a lot of weight, and I am striving to keep the weight of the carcase on the more reasonable side if possible. I instead therefore designed the shelves as frame and panel assemblies, all from VG material, so they have the capacity to accommodate seasonal movement and yet will likely move in tandem with the surrounding carcase.

In fact, as the panels and frame are all the same grain orientation as the surrounding carcase, one could make a frame and panel with no space for expansion at all and it should work fine. In this case however, the shelf boards are curly bubinga, which, though the material is VG orientation like the carcase, the wiggly grain is likely to move slightly differently than pure VG stock, so I have allowed for a little expansion room at the tongue and groove joints which connect the parts, just a total of 1/16″ (1.5mm) total.

The lower shelf’s two rails, and the rear rail on the upper shelf are all the same size, and I had to pull stock for those parts from the curly bubinga slab to obtain the sections I needed. As these were curly bubinga, I planed them down to about 3/16″ (5mm) oversize, which is as close as I dare with the planer as otherwise tear out may run too deeply into the surfaces.

Glad once again to have the pattern mill, as it made it possible to remove the 3/16″ excess without any tear out to worry about, or recourse to finding someone with a thickness sander:

This is a slow process, but a reliable one:


The sticks required a series of overlapping passes on one half of the stick, then the stick is swung around 180˚ and the other end finished the same way.

If there were any marks at the point where the cutter passes overlapped in the middle of the face, I cleaned the surface up by plane:

Short curls were all I was getting, but at least no tear out. It felt like it might tear out though. I’ve even had a little tear out using the forward-bedded cabinet makers scraping plane with this material!

I took the sticks down most of the way, leaving a clean up pass or three. Then I ran the stock through the super surfacer, obtaining clean faces, zero tear out and part dimensions within 0.003″ of target. That’s what it is all about folks.

I am not going to be able to do the same with the curly bubinga panels however, as they would not be very efficiently dealt with by the mill and the relatively small cutters I have. So, those parts, along with the drawer fronts and main door fronts, will be taken somewhere that has a decent wide belt sander. I’ll still finish them up by scraping afterwards.

Then I turned my attention back to the vertical divider boards from the lower drawer frame work recently completed.

The lower ends of these dividers were given 3 pairs of tenons each:

Another view:

I didn’t have the camera yesterday, so the above short set of pics is all I have to share today. Thanks for dropping by the Carpentry Way. Post 41 is next.

7 Replies to “A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (40)”

  1. I'm curious as to your method to drum sand those side panels without getting snipe at the ends.

  2. Justin,

    Thanks for the question. I don't have any sort of sanding machine for starters, and I tend to think that a drum sander would not be my first choice due to the short length of the abrasive for one rotation. I was thinking of a widebelt sander, not drum sander.

    I will take the panels to another woodworking shop and have them sand them down close to finish dimension with a widebelt sander. In the past I haven't noticed any issues on these machines as far as snipe is concerned, though any machine can be out of adjustment of course.


  3. Hi Chris,

    If you're not able to find anyone local, I have access to a Timesaver computerized thickness sander that'll do up to 32″ wide boards. Though shipping them to WA state would suck, I'd be happy to mill them for you.

Anything to add?

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