Kitchen Utensil Box #1: Introduction

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Blog entry by JSOvens posted 04-13-2015 06:08 AM 1553 reads 1 time favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Kitchen Utensil Box series Part 2: Milling the components »

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since my last post regarding my mini hand tool cabinet, which is still under construction (truthfully, I haven’t really made any progress since my last post at the link above). I became very busy at the end of last year defending my Ph. D. thesis. That’s right, you may now call me “Doctor”!

Moving on to the matters at hand, as you can see from the photo below, we have a kitchen drawer which is way overcrowded with large kitchen utensils (ladles, spatulas, large knives …etc). I am somewhat shamed to admit that I crafted some kitchen utensil boxes for some of my families two Christmases ago with the promise to my wife that I’d make her one. Well, now it is time to make good on that promise!

The design

Since making my first kitchen boxes about a year and a half ago, both my skills and design tendencies have changed, so this one will not resemble those I made previously. As many may recognize from the sketch-up doodle below, I have blatantly copied the leg post design from Mark Spagnuolo’s (The Wood Whisperer) gadget station. Since first seeing this build, both my wife and I really fell in love with the design of the leg posts. In fact, we have a plan to use them for a larger cabinet sometime in the future, but we decided to whet our appetite for this design in this smaller scale project.

The overall height of the box (i.e. the height of the leg posts) is 10.5” and the overall width (again, including the leg posts) is 7”. The posts will be 1” square at the widest point, and 5/8” at the narrowest. The walls are 3/8” thick, 8” in height and 5” wide (visible width). I plan to join them to the leg posts via mortise and tenon joinery. In order to test the viability of my plan for the joinery (as well as proportions), I made a mock-up out of pine of one corner as shown below.

Hopefully the above photo gives a clear indication of how I plan to execute the mortise and tenon joinery. Initially I thought of using one long tenon across the panel, but then realized that the tenons would “crash” into each other, thus I decided on the interlocking tenons shown above. I searched quite extensively to see how others might join a panel to a post, but came up dry, so I came up with something myself. Using dowels is another potential method that could be used in this case, but I’m better at making accurate mortises an tenons than dowel holes.

Some may notice that the top-most mortise in the post is awfully high – you’re right! When I shaped the post (after cutting the mortises of course), I had the post in the jig upside down! I’m glad I made that mistake here and not during the real build!

One last noteworthy feature of the above mock-up is the grain direction of the panels. I decided to have the grain running horizontally, such that it “wraps” around the box. This adds a bit of difficulty as now I will need to find an 8+ inch wide piece of lumber – for the mock-up I simply laminated three narrower boards together. Part of the reason I chose to do it this way was to have the top of the panel have edge grain rather than end grain, to give it a more finished look.

With the design completed and tested (sort of), my wife and I went to a hardwood dealer to pick some woods for the project. We ended up picking a combination of Wenge for the panels matched with Padauk for the leg posts (see the photo below). Because these are pricey woods, we purchased only what was needed for the project plus a little breathing room – not much though!

The Wenge pictured above looks amazing! Normally the colour (and often the grain) is quite uniformly black/dark brown, but this piece has a lighter shade to it with some narrow cathedral grain which should wrap around the box nicely. I have to say, I’m very excited to get to work on this and watch it come together! I hope you will stick with me through the process!

In my next post, I will talk about milling the basic components of this project, which will include an instance of overconfidence which may or may not pay off. If you have any questions or comments, I’d be happy to hear (see) them!

Thanks for reading.

-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada

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