Wall Hung Tool Cabinet #24: I've Been Framed! (Pt 1)

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Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 02-01-2016 05:52 AM 1845 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 23: What was it this Not Wall Hung was supposed to be, again? Part 24 of Wall Hung Tool Cabinet series Part 25: Framed, Pt. 2 »

One of the earliest questions asked as I prepared to actually build-out CHERRY® and (L) was wood choice. The door is obviously cherry, the shelves within the main carcase are walnut. The inside doors are oak, and the tool caddys completed up to this point inside the oak doors are walnut. Inside of the cabinet is pine, drawer fronts poplar. Which one is best for the tool frames to be placed inside the CHERRY doors? Discuss.
Okay, what’d you decide? Well, I thought about that quite a bit, then decided on reclaimed mahogany frames and inside partitions of T&G poplar. Why? I have a bunch of mahogany stair treads my son picked up at auction a few years ago and it easy to work with hand tools. Here is the raw stock to be used; I’ll rip the the edges to aid in re-sawing:

After ripping, to the bandsaw

With the roughest dimensions in mind, the mahogany was planed to thickness at the Craftsman Alien Head; sorry, no pictures of that operation so you’ll have to use your imagination.

Pushed to the forefront now is the need to prep each frame for mounting on the doors themselves. French cleats are one candidate, but would mean building three-sided boxes, essentially, so the cleat would be hidden behind a ‘raised back,’ if you know what I mean. Another mounting option is incorporating a couple backer strips within each frame, top and bottom, for screwing the frames to the doors directly. Third choice I can think of includes hardware, and although it’d likely be the least work, I don’t want to do that.

Naturally, I chose a fourth, hardest option: A fully framed backer. Why? Two words: COMPOSITION and FLEXIBILITY (ADAPTABLE?). Yeah, I know what you’re saying. “Hey! He said flexibility was moot, because he was driving screws into wood so all things are variable!” It’s true, I did say that, but there’s more. I’m adding a bit to the concept of flexibility, in that the layout of the partitions is more adaptable IF there’s opportunity to hold things in place using fasteners from behind. And that doubles the COMPOSITION piece of the puzzle as well. The plan is to dado the frames to accept a rabetted backer; that solid backer will in turn be screwed into the doors at each inside corner (four screws). Solid.

The length of the frames will be max allowable, depth will be max’d as well. I’ve got four inches of inside depth to fill, and the side frames are set a full quarter inch shy of that max. A good start.

I then decided to add an ogee-type detail to the ends of each of the vertical frame pieces. Yes, I’m building two frames even though the layout of either is way undefined at this stage.

Rasp work cleaned up the ogee tops.

Now to match sides with bottoms, and for that it’s dovetails. The evening’s planned work was pretty straightforward: Complete the dovetail joinery on each pair of side frames to create three-sided frames. And I have pictures of doing just that.

The work was familiar and went pretty well, time for test fit.

You’ll notice an imperfection on the bottom piece and it’s not the only one. I had to add some pieces to some boards to make max use of material, and there are also some blemishes and nail holes on the final pieces that add to the character factor as well. Just the reality of using salvaged material (the whole cabinet thusfar, right??). I then decided to do a cove detail on the side rails using the Craftsman shaper. After replacing a very worn belt on said shaper, it was done.

That said, all they while I was going through the dovetailing motions, I was thinking about a preferred method of joining the top-most rail to the sides, given the decorative finial at the top prevents dovetails being employed there. I mean, don’t you think something’s missing?

I seriously considered through-tenons for the better part of the evening then decided to go with sliding dovetails. And that means using the Dovetail Tongue and Groove Plane, or Stanley #444. It’s been a couple years since I’ve last experimented with the tool…

Donor board went pretty well!

So it was on to the top pieces.

So it was onto grooving the side rails, and even with more practice cuts it didn’t go well. The recessed angle of the groove was not being clearly defined by the spur, the cutter wasn’t engaging well at the bottom of the cut, and the plane was incredibly difficult to work in a consistent back-and-forth motion. Just not good. So after a day thinking about it, I revisited the spur. Sure enough, it was dull; worst of the four on the tool. Couldn’t swap it with a sharp one, because it’s unique to the left side of the plane. Some time at the stones got it slicing cross-grain well, so I put it back in place and tried again.

The groove’s finished sidewall was still not good, and the plane still wasn’t working smoothly. What now? I was tightening up the spur when I noticed it: the newly honed spur was standing proud of the plane’s main body! It was, in essence, too thick for the area milled to receive it. The way to correct that involved more work at the Arkansas stone.

Once that was done the tool’s performance was significantly improved, but there was still an issue: I was having to work way too hard to get the cutter to remove material at the bottom of the groove. Two things were done to improve this: I slightly reshaped the primary bevel AND extended the cutter a little more from the bottom of the tool. Not real excited about that second part, but for now it’ll have to do. So after all this work, it was time to complete the cuts on the side rails.

Structurally, the joint is a success. Aesthetically, total zero because of the issues I had making the groove cuts. This is the first of two, so there’s an expectation that results will improve. I won’t show the real ugly, but this shadowy image instead. :-)

Before moving on to the second cut, I took a third look at the smallest cutter. I was extending the iron from the plane’s sole more than I was comfortable with (relies on chance more than precision for depth of cut) and it was because the 22 degree angle still wasn’t right on the cutter. Why in the name of all things Stanley would I have a cutter that’s not sharp and fully shaped, you ask? Well, when I did the videos and accompanying T&G Plane blog several years ago, I didn’t use this cutter at all; the middle one was the only one I tuned fully. Now it’s come home to roost, I guess. So out came the grinder.

After several minutes, the cutter was properly shaped and angled. Reinstalled in the plane, and was cutting grooves in donor material as I remembered years back. It was fun, and made that wonderful planing noise we all love so much.
So the second cut went better than the first, and I brought a new tool to the task: a Starret No. 236 depth gauge. This was a tremendous help to know when the cut was supposed to bottom out to match the tongues made in a previous session. Love it, glad it’s in the Cabinet, and won’t cut T&Gs without it again.

In the meantime, I’ll need to do something to hide the ugliness in the finished product. That’s all for now!

We do have pair of assemblies though!

Next time, backer material.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

8 comments so far

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2696 posts in 1667 days

#1 posted 02-01-2016 08:02 AM

Smitty, if ever you wonder if anyone actually reads all the words, as well as looks at the photos, I do. And, I enjoy the ride. Thanks for sharing. A practitioner of the Wooden Artes would really to well to gratefully receive tutelage in carpentry, when it’s offered. It’s a wonderful cabinet, and a fitting repository for a steward of great tools.

-- Mark

View yuridichesky's profile


624 posts in 2567 days

#2 posted 02-01-2016 12:08 PM

This #444 looks so impressive and performs so well.
Great reading, thank you.

-- Yuri (10x4 -- yeah, that's my tiny shop!)

View albachippie's profile


773 posts in 3639 days

#3 posted 02-01-2016 12:11 PM

Very nicely done, and I love the extensive use of hand tools. I too read all the words! Really enjoyable read.

Thanks for sharing,


-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3938 days

#4 posted 02-01-2016 01:12 PM

You are clearly having a great time with those venerable hand tools Smitty and getting good results with them too.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16327 posts in 3222 days

#5 posted 02-01-2016 01:58 PM

I do wonder sometimes! Glad y’all are enjoying it, and there’s only backer standing between now and actually staging tools in this cabinet. That’ll be the payoff, but also the part I’m looking forward to the least. Too much detail work, I think. No stopping now, right?

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View AnthonyReed's profile


10117 posts in 3044 days

#6 posted 02-01-2016 04:48 PM

I love the frames, the fettling and tuning of the #444 gave me a little anxiety though. :-)

Always a joy to see your work and read about the process. Thank you Smitty!

-- ~Tony

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16327 posts in 3222 days

#7 posted 02-01-2016 04:59 PM

Taking a step back, there’s just a ton of behind the scenes effort (relatively speaking) that goes on before tools even have a chance to be fitted. I guess it’d be less so with ‘lectrical tools and simpler (but just as stout) joinery. Clearly an example of a hobbyist doing things to aggravate himself, I think.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View GrandpaLen's profile


1652 posts in 2876 days

#8 posted 02-01-2016 05:30 PM are a man of fine mettle and true grit. ;-)

Blog on Dude.
Work Safely and have Fun. – Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

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