A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (55)

Having finally remembered to bring the camera data cord back from the shop, I can get on with post 55 in a continuing series.

I glued up carcase #2, filmed the entire process, which went just fine, and then discovered once again the entire piece wasn’t quite in view despite having elevated the camera atop the shaper and thinking that everything was in frame. Oh well. I’ll get the hang of filming sooner or later. How many more filming mistakes can possibly be made I wonder?

Once the clamps were removed a day later, I got on with trimming the excess material off of the dovetails:

Ichi-mai-ba-kanna work great for trimming end grain:

Here they are, cabinets #1 and #2, both upside-down at this juncture:

Now, an attentive reader named Marc pointed out that in a previous post, where I was mortising the drawer rails for front stops, I had said I would be placing stop mortises as well on the lower carcase panel. He wondered, looking at the assembled cabinet, why I hadn’t done that. A very good question indeed. Yes, quite incisive.

Answer: I had completely overlooked it. The drawer rails are recessed 1/4″ in from the outer carcase, so different settings were needed for mortising the carcases for the same stops, and what got set aside to be done later got forgotten entirely. It happens. In such a situation, is seppuku the honorable course, I wondered? Will my family have to follow me into the afterlife as well to preserve our honor?

Well, at first read of that comment/question a few days back, I had a cold rush and a sinking feeling, later followed by annoyance, which was then superseded by a bit of head scratching. How am I going to mortise for those bottom-most stops? With the drawer rails in place, there was not enough room to mortise, either by hand or power tool. Desperate plans cause for desperate measures they say. So, I came up with a plan ‘b’, which was rather more of a neat solution, I thought, than anything else.

Here are the stops for the lower carcase board on one cabinet – six stops plus two spares:

The carcase of each cabinet was upside down so as to facilitate mortising for the stops from the backside. Afterwards, I tucked the stops in their mortises prior to finishing off for the session:

Next day, once the mortises were cleaned out and flared, the stops were inserted thusly:



The fit was snug, requiring some hammer taps to seat the stop all the way down to its shoulders:

On the emergent face (the bottom face of the carcase board), wedges were fitted, however the wedges were not driven into kerfs in the stops as they would split the stops upon insertion. There were no kerfs done at all. Instead, the wedges received a smear of glue and were inserted on the outer ends:

The glue bonds the wedges to the stop, and nothing else, forming the stop’s tenoned portion into a dovetail shape. This means the stop will stay put, and if it ever had to be removed, the lack of glue will make it relatively easy to replace.

After the wedging comes the flush-trimming:

I was satisfied with the way plan ‘b’ came out – – actually I prefer it for the lower carcase board to the method used in the drawer rails.

Here’s a pair of stops after fitting and wedging:

Two cabinets – the one in the foreground has its six stops fitted and a first coat of finish applied on the sides, and the cabinet in the background has yet to have the same stages completed but you can spot the wedges in their temporary parking spots:

Today I brought the second cabinet up to the same stage as the first. This week, I’m back to working on Chinese teak wheelbarrow #3 for Jeff Koons, so work on the cabinets has been curtailed greatly of late and for the next day or three.

All for this installment – thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way. Post 56 is up next.

8 Replies to “A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (55)”

  1. Chris,

    Looking great! I'm sure you can rest slightly easier now that the case is assembled. There are always some lingering fears in my head before, during and immediately after a case is assembled.

    I've been wondering about your detail work on the outside of the case, have you been chamfering the edges, leaving them exactly square or something else entirely?

  2. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the comment, and yes it is a releif to have both cabinets assembled with no set backs. And, it's nice to have all the parts in one place!

    If you check picture 5 from the top it shows the chamfering on the inside of the case. The outside of the case chamfering remains an open question, but I will likely not do any significant chamfering. Since the bottom carcase board sits on the cornice assembly, chamfering the arris on that board would leave a gap line and would be unattractive. Ditto for the top board, which will be capped by an assembly similar to the cornice. Given that the front edges are all mitered, chamfering just the side carcase boards won't work too well.


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