A New Cabinet Project

Article - April 13, 2010

I am embarking on a new project for a client, and I thought I would share some of the details with you. The piece is inspired by a project featured in the April 2003 issue of Get Woodworking by Mike Cowie. The project, as well as many of its modifications, were selected by the client. But I will definitely have some influence on the details so its still going to be a fun project to build and I am looking forward to getting in the shop and making some sawdust.

Here you can see one of my initial SketchUp drawings. A number of changes were made from the original piece in the magazine. The 6-panel doors have become wide 3-panel doors (more on that in a second). You’ll also notice I only sketched in one curved leg for reference. The actual cuve is based off a template from a previous project, and I am not good enough with SketchUp to display it accurately. So this was just a very rough visual reference.

I am incredibly psyched about the doors on this piece. The three raised panels on each door will be made from birdseye maple. But as you see in the sketch, the center of the panel is walnut. So the plan is to veneer a thin sheet of solid walnut over a piece of solid birdseye maple. Then with a big panel raising bit, I will run the piece through, cutting through the walnut and revealing the birdseye beneath. You can definitely expect a video on this process.

After sending the first image to the client, it was brought to my attention that the legs are actually supposed to be made from 8/4 stock. The original doesn’t have this, but in order to match a previous piece I made for him, they need to be thicker. So back to the drawing board. Now here’s an image with the thicker leg stock (without the curves drawn in). I actually like the look of the thicker legs better and frankly, the straight leg design really appeals to me. But, its not my cabinet! haha.

Once the overall design and look of the piece was established and agreed upon, I made another sketch for my own purposes. I like to have a few skeleton sketches that I can print out and bring into the shop. This helps me figure out the joinery details and visualize the exact sizes and positions of the internal parts. It also helps me eliminate any errors before they occur. I would much rather have to redraw a SketchUp model than recut a piece of wood.

So that’s what I’m up to. I need to pick up some 8/4 stock for the legs today, then I can start the milling process. I won’t be filming the entire project, but I will make a few episodes from parts of the process that I think you might find interesting. Wish me luck!