A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (48)

Things started out kinda groovy today – namely putting dadoes down the back of the carcase sides and top board:

A reader asked in a previous post why I didn’t process grooves in the boards using an adjustable-width grooving head in my Martin shaper. Besides the fact that I don’t happen to own such a cutter,  and it wouldn’t make sense to buy one for just a few grooves (though I do want to get several such cutters eventually), several of the grooves on this cabinet do not run through the board length but are stopped on one or both ends. Thus, other strategies are called for – namely my smaller Festool router in this case with an edge guide.

Since the groove on the back of the panel was the same distance inboard as the front groove for the sliding doors on the front of the board, I simply changed to a longer cutter, kept the edge guide at the same setting, and continued to use the router to clean up those dadoes as well:

The grooves for the sliding doors had been roughed out earlier using a table saw, leaving the router with trimming work, which is the ideal way to use a router.

Still, two of the four trim cuts involved in processing these sliding door grooves to final dimension were cuts where the material is sandwiched between the cutter and the router guide fence, which is a risky cut to take as any errors in handling the router can quickly lead to a spoiled surface. It’s  preferably avoided, but sometimes it is the most straightforward approach. So, I was vigilant and took great care with guiding the router.

The results were checked with a gage block, (9/16″ equalling 14.3mm):


The arrises were sharp afterwards and could not be readily worked with a chamfer plane, so I used a hardwood block with some #320 paper glued on to ease those arrises:

I was relieved to get through all the dado work without mishap. One less thing to get stressed about.

Then it was back to fitting the second set of drawer vertical dividers to the second cabinet carcase base piece. Fitting the first one went smoothly:

With one side fitted, it was on to the last one, which also went in nicely and tightly:

A look along the lower interface:

Another view, this time from on high:

Too bad that stripey figure will not be in view when the cabinet is complete.

At the end of the day, I prepared some stock for fitting in the dadoes cut earlier. These sticks were surfaced to 0.003″ oversize in thickness, which makes them a slight interference fit in their 0.5″ grooves:

The purpose of these small sticks is to provide a backstop for the demountable panels which will be fitted to the back of the cabinet later on. I don’t want to look into the back of the cabinet and see light gaps at the rear panel frame edges. An alternative might be to rebate the back of the carcase, however then you are digging into the roots of the dovetails and that is best avoided. I chose to rebate the rear rails, and fit strips in to other areas.

One other piece of news is that there has been a slight redesign of the cabinet’s ‘bonnet’. I had long felt slightly dissatisfied with the design and mulled over how I might improve it. As the cabinet carcase construction draws near the end my attention is now of course turning to the bonnet. I had an inspiration one day a couple of weeks back and drew a new version.

Here’s what I came up with, the old version on the left and the new on the right:

Another view:

I believe the new frame and panel top is more harmonious with the overall lines of the cabinet, which is quite rectilinear, and provides more of a ‘bookend’, so to speak, with the framing in the support stand below. The waist in the middle section of the bonnet, to be made of shedua, echoes the support stand frame’s upper beam, also waisted, and hints at the fact that more interplay of bubinga and shedua will be found within the cabinet. The client has approved the change, and agreed with my reasoning for making the changes at such a late juncture. I would have been fine with building at least one of the cabinets with the older version of top, however I was glad he liked the new version as it allows for a continuation of the slight economies of a fabrication that come with making two identical cabinets. Onward and upward.

All for this time. Thanks for your visit. Post 49 is next.

4 Replies to “A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (48)”

  1. The first one looks 4 times more difficult to produce than the new one, particularly due to the curvature involved.

  2. Justin,

    I don't know about “4 times more difficult”, but it would involve more parts and joints, so sure, it would be a little more involved. The revised design will be stronger – not that strength is a concern – and more amenable to adding a compartment within.


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