now that tops it all!
With the legs and carcass built I focus on the lower shelf (bottom) of the cabinet and its top.
As previously mentioned, the shelving will be oak plywood. Plywood, a tricky thing it is; despite what anyone tells you, not all plywood is created equal. (You can read about Jay Bates recent encounter with Chinese ply on his website (www.jaybates.com) or Facebook page – poor Jay – I feel his pain.) You can get cabinet grade ply – ready for sanding and laminated without voids, or you can get cheaper stuff that you can use as an excuse for cursing practice and maybe make a bowl out of, or you can get something in between – if you are the gambling type. The price swing for the various grades of the same wood ply can be as much as $40 a sheet. I try to buy the better stuff but that doesn’t mean it is always perfect (although they certainly think so when you see the price of that stuff $$$). Handling large sheets of ply is always difficult. Most of us can get a good cut on our table saws with the right, sharp blade and good technique, but getting it to a manageable size in order to get it to the table saw is something different. Most of us will crosscut the full sheet to a more manageable size. This involves using a circular saw and a straight edge. Tear out with such means and methods can be avoided with better (and much more expensive tools) but I just don’t have to funds to drop a couple grand on a track saw system (insert sickly rich uncle here). So I deal with the tear out by oversizing the pieces and making final cuts on the table saw. It works okay, but its ply after all. The top (oak ply) is trimmed with solid oak (see photo above). It will not be secured to the base unit just yet – still need to fit the adjustable shelf (I drilled the shelf pin holes before putting the cabinet together, but didn’t tell you – surprise!). The use of ply will keep the top from “moving” during humidity changes. The oak edging is secured with biscuits and glue, oh and more clamps please.
top and shelves
It’s been a slow couple of days in the shop. I managed to bang out the top and trim it out with solid oak. For now the top will just “fit” into place until the shelf and staining is done. Afterwards the top will be secured from inside the cabinet. The shelf is again made of 3/4” oak ply. I used glue on edge banding to “disguise” the ply edges. This edge banding has been around for quite a while but I discovered it when making the entertainment center. As previously mentioned plywood is less expensive yes, but it makes for a very flat surface and it won’t move with humidity or temperature changes. The glue-on edge banding is a thin oak veneer that is installed to the plywood edge using the wife’s iron (let this be our little secret). There are a few other ways to edge band the ply, but this works for me and it is pretty easy. It makes the ply “look” like a solid slab of wood. I had previously drilled shelf pin holes in the sides of the lower cabinet before putting it all together. These pins will support the single adjustable shelf. With the lower cabinet looking less like a pile of lumber and more like a piece of furniture I’m giving the SketchUp drawing another look so as to make another trip to the lumber store. I’m keeping a close tab on expenses for this project in order to get a better handle on what I might charge to build this for someone else. I believe I’ll have enough lumber drop to make the doors (back to the router table). The solid oak board I have that is wide enough for the door panels has a darker tone to it. If I were staining this piece with a transparent stain I’d be a little more particular, but since I’m using a black stain it shouldn’t matter (but it might look strange beforehand).
a word about SketchUp
I’m a draftsman by trade (I believe they call us CAD designers now 🙂 ) and the software I use at work is pretty pricey (I believe I sit behind about $10k in CAD (computer aided drafting) software including all the add-on packages. I don’t know too many people who can afford that kind of software for home of small office/shop use. Enter SketchUp. SketchUp is a fairly inexpensive 3D design software ($600 for the Pro version) that I use exclusively at home for home and furniture design. SketchUp also offers a free version (SketchUp Make) which is what I use. It does have its limitations but it does most of what I’d want it to do. You’ll see more SketchUp drawings in the future. If you are interested in SketchUP, you can visit their site here.
It seems I spend most of my time at the router table adjusting bit height. It’s a tedious, time consuming task – one of which I dread, but I do realize its necessity. As previously mentioned, when I bought my new router table I decided not to get the adjustable router insert. (That thing was like $400 just by itself – not including the table and the fence.). The pic below is the panel that I’m nibbling down to match up to the setup block. I tend to do this and not just set the bit to the setup block from the get go to keep from wood burn (my final pass will clean any of that up) and because I’ve found that those setup blocks aren’t always right on (especially since they are designed for 3/4″ wood and sometimes I will plane the wood down just a bit to ensure a flat board).
Finally the doors get the glue and clamp treatment. No, you aren’t seeing another pic of the sides, these are actually the doors. they are built with a 3/8′ overhang and I’ll use the Blum compact, soft-close euro hinges. Rockler.com had these on sale ($8.79/pair – big spender!) so I decided to splurge a little and get the soft close feature.