A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (83)

At last I am dug into the work on the bifold doors, the last construction step in this extended build. With two cabinets, that means 8 frame and panel doors to construct. Some of the parts for this, like the panels, were milled and taken to near-finish many months ago. The hinge stiles were milled 3 or 4 months back. Some parts are more recent productions, but in all cases, I have taken my time to work the parts down to dimension in stages, wanting the pieces as straight and square as possible.

At this juncture, I have all of the parts for these doors in some stage of cut out. As usual, working without a net in terms of having no spare parts.

The stiles, for example, are processed to shape, length, and dimensions, and have been mortised:

These mortises are off the hollow chisel mortiser, deliberately cut undersize (using a 5mm hollow chisel) so I can clean them out afterwards on the pattern mill with a 1/4″ (6.35mm) bit:

The two step approach avoids the unpleasant outcome, more common with the smallest hollow chisels, of the auger wandering slightly in the cut and causing a mortise with little round marks on the side walls. As these are through tenoned, many of them will show, doors open or closed, and I want the mortises to be free of any glitches, so I mortise in two steps rather than one.

The hinge stiles and hanging stiles are all in ‘L’ sections:

The ‘L’ form allows for good support at the mortises for the rails, and keeps the exposed frames quite slender on the front viewing aspect, which then allows for a maximum visual impact as far as the panels are concerned.

After opening the mortises to size on the mill, some chisel work is then required to clean out any remaining bits and produce the completed mortises. Then it is time to fit the rails, which were tenoned several weeks back.

Here’s the first door ladder frame assembly:


Another view:

At this point the tenons are proud and un-wedged. Later the mortises will be flared, wedges driven in, and the ends trimmed flush.

Another look:


At this juncture, 3 ladder frames are done, and another day or so should see me to the completion of that work. Then the panels need their many dovetail trenches and the top and bottom rails will need to be tackled. One thing at a time….

While working on the doors, I am moving the shelf parts through finishing:

I have to be careful not to dribble any finish onto the end grain portions of the miters.

Frame and panel work is certainly more difficult to finish than other forms of construction. You can’t just spray the assembly with finish, as is so common these days, and once the parts are assembled additional finishing will be required, great care taken not to dribble finish into the expansion gaps for the panels.

The shop remains quite cold, but humidity is low, so the finish dries pretty quick. Still, I am doing just one coat a day, letting the finish get just that little bit harder before sanding between coats.

Onward and upward. Thanks for visiting the Carpentry way – hope you enjoyed your time here. Post 84 follows.

2 Replies to “A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (83)”

  1. Brian,

    thanks! Keeping the stiles thin is less about the tall and thin aspect, given that these are bifold doors, and more with showing the curly bubinga panels to their best effect. In fact, early on I was looking at making frame and panel doors without frames showing at all and thereby giving a very modern appearance. Later, I reconsidered this idea and went back to surrounding frames, as this was more harmonious, it seemed to me, with the rest of the piece. Diminishing the surroundings while keeping the strength led to the design of 'L' shaped stiles and upper/lower rails. Hopefully this will work out nicely – we'll see.


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