Wall Cabinet in Bubinga

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Project by thiel posted 01-16-2012 05:02 AM 2786 views 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I started this a long time ago, as part of the Wood Whisperer Wall Cabinet build. Got sidetracked pretty early on and the schedule slipped, but I also made some key errors:

1) I’ve been trying to use different (new to me) woods for every project so I can learn about them. I did it in bubinga. This was a dumb idea.

2) When I glued up the case, I used regular glue. This was also a dumb idea. With the clock ticking, I had to fit all four corners (dovetails), the back (dado), shelf (stopped dado), and divider (stopped dado). Needless to say, the glue up did not “go well” and I ended up with an out of square (~1/32) case.

3) With my case out of square, I thought: “what a great way to practice my hand tool skills!” So I set about making the rest of it by hand. This was a dumb idea, because, as I’ve mentioned, it’s bubinga. Super hard, lots of grain switching, prone to chipout. Oh… and did I mention that I only owned a block plane and a smoother at the time? Not enough heft to push through this wood.

4) When fit the drawers, the dovetails came out great, and I got a PERFECT PISTON FIT! Yeah! That’s when I realized I’d forgotten to put the drawer bottoms in.

5) When I fit the door, I got a perfect reveal… oh, except for cutting the door 1/4 too narrow. That’s where the long custom pull came in … it’s a “design feature” ... designed to hide my screwup.

Anyway… the list goes on, but it’s done, and it actually looks pretty sweet. The back and mirror back are cherry plywood. The pulls are Peruvian Black Walnut. The finish is teak oil. I’m going to use it to store camera equipment.

For my next project I think I’m going to use Pine.

-- --Thiel

16 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117708 posts in 4055 days

#1 posted 01-16-2012 05:12 AM

Each project we learn what not to do as well as what works ,enjoy the process and the journey.

View Alexander Valle Albert's profile

Alexander Valle Albert

173 posts in 3896 days

#2 posted 01-16-2012 05:46 AM

Great… I like your choice of woods!! Thanks for sharing…

View dpow's profile


504 posts in 3322 days

#3 posted 01-16-2012 05:48 AM

Hey Thiel, for a project with a history of “dumb ideas”, it sure looks nice. I enjoyed reading your description of this project build. Your honest description reminds me of most of my projects. Thanks for sharing

-- Doug

View Reaper621's profile


126 posts in 2808 days

#4 posted 01-16-2012 06:26 AM

Hey, this project looks great. And 1/32 of an inch is within tolerance for being “out of square”, I generally only get upset with out of square on cabinets when it’s off at least 1/16 over 3 feet-4 feet.

Making mistakes is how a carpenter becomes a master carpenter. I wouldn’t know a LOT of things I know right now if I hadn’t fudged up this or that once or twice. It’s how well you can adapt and change that makes you a great carpenter.

I went to a woodworker’s convention in Edwardsville one year, and this guy is giving a presentation on how to do dovetails on drawers. He gave a great speech on how to hide mistakes: “Keep your damn mouth shut. If they don’t know, they won’t find it.” After taking this advice, I never reveal my errors to people who can have their hands on my work. :D This principle does not, in fact, apply to my regular job… But it’s great for that piece of crown that sits back 1/32”.

-- Laywer by day, Carpenter by later in the day.

View Hallmark's profile


432 posts in 3584 days

#5 posted 01-16-2012 09:53 AM

Great recovery, it looks very nice. I loved your description of the build. It brings up many memories.

-- Style is simple, but not my execution of it.

View dubsaloon's profile


622 posts in 3272 days

#6 posted 01-16-2012 11:45 AM

Very nice cabinet. Bubinga is getting very popular. Thank you for sharing.

-- The works of evil people are not the problem. It is the "Good" people standing by and watching not speaking up. Dubsaloon

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 3554 days

#7 posted 01-16-2012 03:14 PM

I think it looks great… Also to be honest I really like the pull handle. Its different yet looks good… Very nice save!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View ed220's profile


624 posts in 3871 days

#8 posted 01-16-2012 03:52 PM

An awesome job. I love Bubinga wood. Pretty expensive stuff !!

View seriousturtle's profile


101 posts in 3808 days

#9 posted 01-16-2012 04:03 PM

This was a great story. Thanks for sharing the issues you ran into. Sometimes I think I’m the only one.


-- ~the turtle

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3132 days

#10 posted 01-16-2012 04:13 PM

Thanks for sharing this. I think you managed to get through a lot of issues to carry off a very nice piece.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View StumpyNubs's profile


7730 posts in 3278 days

#11 posted 01-16-2012 04:24 PM

WOW! Thanks for posting!

-Jim; aka “Stumpy Nubs”
(The greatest woodworking show since the invention of wood is now online!)

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Ken90712's profile


17707 posts in 3667 days

#12 posted 01-16-2012 04:51 PM

I think it looks great and was thinking the same 1/32 not bad. Great job and keep up the good work.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Bobsboxes's profile


1369 posts in 3142 days

#13 posted 01-16-2012 05:11 PM

Woodworking is a journey, with each new piece we gain an insite to use on the next project. Enjoy the save, if I didn’t sell or give away every project that was 1/32” out of square, I would have a house full. Enjoy…your has great design and turned out very good.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View NikonF100's profile


50 posts in 3664 days

#14 posted 01-16-2012 05:31 PM

Got a gunstock that’s laminated, the outer pieces are bubinga. Like you , how hard is this wood ??? Sanding it is like polishing stone. I just hope it finish out as nice as your cabinet.

View EarlS's profile


3028 posts in 2826 days

#15 posted 01-16-2012 06:01 PM

Very bold wood choice that turned out nicely.

You mean that wood projects are supposed to come together without mistakes? I have plenty of “signatures” on my pieces but I too subscribe to the “shut up” theory. Most mistakes are small enough you won’t see them unless you know they are there.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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