A Krenov Inspired Cabinet on Stand in Six Days (pix)

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Blog entry by John Fry posted 07-06-2008 04:56 AM 14314 reads 10 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A veneered curly koa, James Krenov style cabinet on a sculpted, curved leg, stand. The doors are bookmatched with a strip of sapwood down the middle. The turned Gaboon ebony handles accent the koa’s colors.

This was a joint project with expert woodworker and friend, Jack Hutchison from Houston TX. and it was built in six days.

But first I want to thank everyone who visited and responded to my last blog;

A very large walnut and walnut burl credenza

I’ve admired Jack’s work on the woodworking forums for years. His specialty is 18th Century reproductions and mine, well…..mine is whatever I can get someone to pay me to make! After many emails and private messages, Jack said “Hey! Why don’t we get together for a joint project. Your shop or mine, and we’ll do it on a “work for food” basis.” So we worked out the deal. The host keeps the project, or sells it to his client, and the guest gets room and board and we both get the opportunity to meet each other and work with someone we admire. The only preliminary work we did prior to his arrival was to decide on the project…..A Krenov style cabinet in curly fiddleback koa.

The entire carcass is veneered. The inside is done in white maple. The elegance of the sweeping curved legs is complimented by the sculpted and curved form of the apron’s bottom edge and the rounded-over upper edges of the stand.

A detail shot of the dovetailed mini drawers, their ebony pulls, and the careful mating of the cabinet to stand.

We wanted the back to be as beautiful as the front so the piece could be placed anywhere in a room. We bookmatched the maple inside, and bookmatched the koa in back.

We started by re-sawing the all the veneers, both koa and maple. We did this first because we were forced to let the “net width” of the prettiest piece of koa dictate the finished width of our doors, and therefore the cabinet.

The veneer slices went straight to the drum sander for a few quick passes. Jack inspects a slice of koa that will become one of the doors as he starts sanding the maple flitch.

We started to break down the 12/4 rough plank of walnut for the stand by cutting it to rough length on the RAS.

We planed to a “clean” thickness and I jointed one edge to prep for ripping our leg blanks.

We laid out our desired curve on a piece of ¼ inch hardboard and Jack cut it out on the band saw and sanded to final shape.

While Jack started on the legs, I edge glued all the veneers that would be bookmatched. Before veneering, some carcass panels needed to be edged with solid koa to accommodate rabbets and some strictly for edge appearance. Then I set up the vacuum bag and started pressing veneers.

These are the two sides of the carcass, fresh out of the press. Each panel is bookmatched koa.

While I’m veneering, Jack works on the legs. First, one side of each leg is sawn close to the pattern’s pencil line. Then he hot glued the cut-off back onto the sawn side of the leg for support while he cut the second side.

Because the legs are curved on two planes, he used the hand sander for most of the sanding. The spindle sander and edge sander could only be used for small portions of the legs.

After Jack had finished the basic sanding on the legs, and we had completed the veneering of the front doors, we were able to determine the final dimensions of our cabinet. With this information, we could cut our aprons to final size and took the stand’s pieces to the FMT and I cut all the mortise and tenons.

Here is a shot of leg parts ready for the dry fit.

Jack drew up a gentle curve for the bottom edge of the aprons to compliment the leg’s curve, made templates for both dimensions needed for the aprons, and flush trimmed them all on the router table. The stand is ready for a dry fitting and glue up!

After the glue up, Jack started the hand sculpting of the upper aprons and routing the softened edges of the legs.

Here it is, all sculpted, sanded, and wiped down.

Meanwhile, I have been scraping and smoothing all the carcass panels. They were then cut to dimension and the carcass is getting closer to glue up.

After I glued up the walnut edging on the top and bottom of the carcass, Jack went to work on the dados for the dividers, shelf, and the knife hinges.

After pre-sanding all the parts and a complete dry fit with doors, it’s time to glue up the carcass. We taped all the parts to assist in any glue squeeze out and glued it up.

Our cabinet design calls for four small drawers. Here is where Jack’s experience doing drop front secretaries and period desks really came into play. He is the master of the tiny drawer, secret compartments, and hidden drawer locks. He set up, cut the parts, and built the gallery framework.

After the drawers were glued up, he hand sanded each one to get that perfect “piston fit”.

I made up and installed some Gaboon ebony pulls, and the final drawer fit was completed.

We wanted a perfect “piston fit” on the carcass back too, so the rabbet was “cornered” by hand chisel, and the back was carefully fit to size.

The first coats of an oil/varnish blend have been applied. The doors, stand, and drawers are starting to show some sheen. The back panel has been glued in and clamped. After the back has been scraped smooth and sanded, we will mount the base to the stand and complete the final finishing process. Tomorrow is “day six” and appears that we will get it done and shoot pictures before Jack has to get on the plane.

This detail shot shows the tight fit of the veneered back panel.

This shot shows the detail of the wooden drawer lock spring. It takes a tiny pushpin sized key in an almost invisible spot to release the catch and open the drawer.

I am a one man shop and I have never worked with anyone before. I have always said that I am a completely self taught woodworker, but after working with someone of Jack’s caliber, and being able to watch someone of his knowledge and confidence, I probably can no longer make that claim.

Creating this cabinet was a great experience for me. We have since made a Federal Period game table at his shop. I will post that one soon.

Thanks for looking,

-- John, Chisel and Bit Custom Crafted Furniture,

19 comments so far

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 4806 days

#1 posted 07-06-2008 05:10 AM

I really admire your work and thank you for the extremely detailed blog work showing your process. It is always educational

-- making sawdust....

View Dave T's profile

Dave T

196 posts in 4627 days

#2 posted 07-06-2008 05:18 AM

Well documented for a stunning piece. Looking forward to the next one.

View steveosshop's profile


230 posts in 4633 days

#3 posted 07-06-2008 05:49 AM

Thats an amazing piece. I like the large dovetails on the drawers. Thats a really nice touch.

-- Steve-o

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 4822 days

#4 posted 07-06-2008 05:52 AM

This is an awesome piece. I really like the way you blog the process in a single issue. Thanks for sharing.

-- Scott - Chico California

View Betsy's profile


3394 posts in 4903 days

#5 posted 07-06-2008 06:03 AM

John – it looks great and the blog detail is wonderful. I learn something from each of your blogs.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 4710 days

#6 posted 07-06-2008 01:29 PM

Great job!

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

798 posts in 4839 days

#7 posted 07-06-2008 02:59 PM

Thanks for the detailed blog. I love seeing the construction process.

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

View Lloyd's profile


5 posts in 4620 days

#8 posted 07-06-2008 04:10 PM

I have long-admired Krenov’s work and you have really captured his inspiration. Like you, I’m self taught. I attended a workshop with Sam Maloof once and was amazed to see how he worked. You are very fortunate to have a friend like Jack.

-- Lloyd, Portland, OR.,

View gizmodyne's profile


1785 posts in 5097 days

#9 posted 07-06-2008 05:38 PM

Great blog entry. Very detailed.

Trading shop time is a great idea. Beautiful project as well.

I am curious about the drawer lock gizmo… Do you insert the pin under the drawer? How does that work?

Also what is that device on you bandsaw table. A feeder?

Nice shop as well.

Thanks for posting and keep up the good work.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4881 days

#10 posted 07-06-2008 06:09 PM

What a cool process to blog!!! This is really inspirational to me. I have been thinking about what to do for my next piece. This really gives me some ideas. You guys did a fantastic collaborative effort and it came out beautifully. Its a privilege to work with such a respected woodworker.

-- Happy woodworking!

View John Fry's profile

John Fry

74 posts in 4707 days

#11 posted 07-07-2008 02:38 PM

Thank you everyone, for the kind words.

The wooden “spring” is attached at an angle and there is a recess drilled into the shelf plate that the drawer slides on. When you push the drawer in, the spring snaps down and locks in the recess so it can’t be pulled out. There is small hole drilled up through the shelf plate and when you use the push pin, you insert it from underneath and it pushes the spring up and allows you to open the drawer.

I have a resaw power feeder on my band saw.

-- John, Chisel and Bit Custom Crafted Furniture,

View Jon3's profile


497 posts in 5112 days

#12 posted 07-07-2008 06:12 PM

Excellent blog John. Always good to see your pieces. I have to admit, I generally do not see walnut as a very warm wood, but in that cabinet, it really reaches out.

View daveintexas's profile


365 posts in 4883 days

#13 posted 07-09-2008 07:46 PM

Nice work John. Cant wait to see that federal table.
Thanks for posting.


View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 5004 days

#14 posted 07-11-2008 11:50 PM


-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10961 posts in 5059 days

#15 posted 07-17-2008 04:52 PM

I’m glad to see you two still going at it!

A great pair…

Nice job, as usual.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

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