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thick. the daughter of a client. plywood surfaced on both tors and demanded lots of storage and display space. making and why I took on this commission. if any. because I with decorative nails at the joints. a corner cabinet. primarily for drawer sides and backs. just furniI looked for a traditional and historiture. Their wish Photos: Anatole Burkin A M AY / J U N E 2 0 01 55 . became the focal point of many of the pieces. The latticework. I was.” not doing cabinets anymore. are nailed in place. These are lighter in color and finer in grain than typical white possibilities vast. Case-good construction and furup with a scaled-down version of this niture making really are two separate latticework pattern. however. such as hand-cut dovetight-grained. which are time-consuming and costly if done on a large anymore. colored an antique brown. I also used solid My mission was to create a refuge—a place to relax. honey-colored wood. all of which make for easier adjustment and faster construction. doors els. it isn’t available tail joints. Thicker edge-banding allowed me to Designing a bedroom from scratch ease the corners and provided a durable surface. are usually set on metal slides. One of them was door screens. shopmade banding. under control. in a book on Japanese architecture. reflect and remaple. To keep shelves from energize. three sliding nounced. a Fine furniture requires more handwork. The inet doors. gate that utilized a latticework pattern My curiosity was piqued. But furniture presents the builder (and client) with many quartersawn American white oak and quartersawn French oak vemore options. I They were looking for built-ins that was intrigued by a style of fence and looked like high-quality furniture. Unfortunately. the whether I would consider making clients were after what they called a built-in cabinets for them. Edges were covered with solid. and drawers small and helped tie them all together visually. three large wardrobes. both large and often are attached with large European-style hinges. They were familstanding furniture: a platform bed and iar with my furniture and asked two nightstands. All of the boxes and panels were veneered medium-density fiberboard (MDF). and moldings. are utilitarian in nature. I had never done anything like this besketched out various ideas and came fore. I said I was “contemporary Asian feeling. which could be reA unifying theme. Cabinets usually are attached to Top-quality materials make a difference walls with screws. Some intersecting members are pinned using brass. and the design neer. But the women said they didn’t cal link that I could update and found it want cabinets in the traditional sense. the choice of materials which is applied to all of the door panand construction follow certain predictable paths. two women list included an entertainment/display walked into my shop unancenter. Built-in cabinets generally peated throughout the room. about 1⁄8 in. The choices of materials are endless. To keep costs clients liked the idea. The clients requested that the primary wood be Japanese oak.Extraordinary Built-ins Case-good construction techniques and a furniture maker’s sensibility can take “cabineture” to new heights B Y R O S S D A Y few years ago. The homeowners are both avid readers and art collecsagging. These are all the reasons why I got into furniture oak and turned out to be a good match. the other was two bookcases and even some freeher interior designer. Aesthetically. Latticework is used on all of the cabdisciplines. able to track down some old-growth scale. For one. I first built up a core of a 3⁄4-in.
Bridle joints are used on all of the rails and stiles. sides with 1⁄4-in. The pulls were coated with layers of lacquer. The rails and stiles of the headboard were joined the same way. Then I veneered the faces and finished off the shelves with 3⁄4-in. All of the rails and stiles were connected with bridle joints (also known as slip joints). But when I first saw them.Freestanding pieces complement the built-ins. MDF. then joined at the corner with bridle joints. The designer also suggested using some fabrics as an accent. The designer provided handmade pulls from India. But lots of work went into the doors. and the corner cabinet was adorned with straw matting. in tandem with wooden guides. The tops of lower cabinets (and nightstands) were veneered and framed with solid wood. Joinery ranged from biscuits to hand-cut dovetails I used exposed joinery throughout.-thick edge-banding. shielding highly polished brass. sliding wire racks are used for storage. The door panels of the entertainment center were wrapped in silk. I wasn’t too thrilled. antique brown finish. I sandblasted the pulls and other hardware and chemically treated them to yield a more subtle. To soften the glare. M AY / J U N E 2 0 01 57 . These fabrics added color and texture to the overall scheme. Similar exposed joinery and design details went into the nightstands and bed. On the inside. The drawers were built upon frames (called NK drawers) that act as slides. NK drawers are very Carcase construction is pretty straightforward. All drawers have variable-spaced hand-cut dovetails with narrow pins.
I created shadow lines by varying the thickness of parts. The latticework on the flat panels is set back from the rails by another 3⁄32 in. “cabineture” has its feet planted firmly in the traditions of fine furniture. thinner than the stiles on all of the doors. Standard-quality cabinets lack the refinements of “cabineture. drawers are easy to open and close. Additionally. shadow line. So I added dowel joints at the front corners of the cases to make sure they would stay tight. shadow lines typically are achieved through the use of raised panels and profiled rails and stiles. Screw up the details. 6 in. Euro-style cup hinges Veneered or solid wood raised panel Customveneered MDF case Dowels at front corners of carcase add strength. (Details on building NK slides will be published in the next issue of Fine Woodworking. but in furniture. Side-by-side cases were connected to each other using joint-connector bolts. doweled or biscuited together. instead.c. If a cabinet has too few. But biscuits don’t have a lot of holding power at the narrow ends. This project had none of those details. o. and it takes on a busy look. iron-on edge-banding Handmade pulls Biscuit joints. The exposed-joinery concept was carried over to the latticeDrawings: Michael Gellatly 58 FINE WOODWORKING . it looks bland. Thin. leaving a 1⁄4-in. Solid wood valance Doors are assembled using bridle joints.” Commercially veneered plywood or particleboard case is screwed. The valances that run atop all of the pieces are gapped. thick) strong. the rails are 3⁄32 in. for example. Biscuits were used to join the cases. which I tinted antique brown to match the rest of the hardware. Butt hinges Veneered panel Applied latticework or other custom detail Solid wood edgebanding ( 1⁄8 in. On traditional doors. too many. For example. nightstand top and a few other places are emphasized. and the entire project is weaker as a result. and the backs were glued into rabbets. details are as important as the materials. Take shadow lines.TAKING CASE GOODS TO A NEW LEVEL Although technically still a built-in. Stub tenons T YPICAL CABINET Visible nail rail inside cabinet “CABINETURE” Nail rail is hidden behind valance. Time spent refining details pays off The word details implies small or subordinate.) The boxes themselves were fashioned like typical built-ins. and because the drawer sides don’t contact the case. joinery and overall design. #150. the bridle joints on the corners of the headboard. Either the tenon is proud or the walls of the mortise protrude by a small amount.
I used scribe strips. which were patinated to match the rest of the hardware. I drew on all of my skills. dangerous work. Fabric adds texture. All of the drawers have variably spaced. then patinated them antique brown. and that led me to a new standard of woodworking. before being pulled over the railing to the second floor. I remembered one of the reasons why I got out of cabinetmaking. M AY / J U N E 2 0 01 59 . Ⅺ Ross Day builds custom furniture in Poulsbo. Then the cabinets took a slow.. Where members cross. and the strips were handplaned to fill the gap. work. I call this hybrid “cabineture. It took three guys and a Genie Lift to get everything in place. The method made fitting a lot easier and added another shadow line to the rather plain sides of the bookshelves and wardrobes. somewhere in the great divide between case goods and fine furniture. That each box made it safely into the room was a minor miracle.” a style of working that combines the craftsmanship and ideals of both disciplines. wobbly ride up 12 ft. Wash. from the walls. To fit these cabinets. which are never perfectly plumb nor flat. I added diamond-shaped brass pins. All built-ins must be fitted to walls. hand-cut dovetails. The cabinets were held back approximately 3⁄4 in. A new discipline is born When it came time to deliver and install the cabinets. The top of the corner cabinet is covered in straw matting. The same material is also applied to the soffit. This job would have been a lot harder to accomplish had I not been trained in both basic cabinetry and furniture making. This can be tough. For this challenging project. We had to build a bridge over a sunken living room to make a platform big enough to get the lift in position. and teaches furniture making part-time at the community-college level. The author sandblasted the shiny original finish on the pulls.Hand-cut joints and handmade pulls from India.
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