Sapele cabinet

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Project by cathyb posted 10-19-2013 12:33 AM 2995 views 3 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finally finished that sapele cabinet. Sorry the photos aren’t clean, but you get the idea.
The cabinet is six feet long, three feet high and 20 inches deep. It was designed to fit in the niche created by a bow window.
To start the project, I made a template of the area in front of the window. Unfortunately the angles were 137 1/2 degrees rather than 135, which made it a little more challenging to cut the angles, but that’s why we have jigs.
I struggled with this project because of the sheer weight and the need to stain the wood. I am a purest at heart and hate to alter the natural look of wood in any way. I don’t mind knots and gnarly grain, which give wood character. I do detest a product that detracts from the grain. After the cabinet was delivered, I tossed that can of stain and will NEVER use stain again.

The finish is General oil-based polyurethane. This was my second sapele project this fall. As I stated with the rocker, sapele seems to require more finish that many other woods. I don’t care for sapele. The dust is very fine and sticks to everything.

To me a project is always a chance to learn something. There were two mistakes that I made, which won’t happen again. I digress but this matters. When I was carving horses, I always added a clamping noggin on the neck, because the neck is impossible to clamp to the body without it. I wish I had made a clamping noggin on the back panel in advance. My God, it was really hard to get this cabinet glued together! A little planning ahead would have really saved me tons of time.

The other design flaw, in my opinion, is the size of the doors. The cabinet was designed to maximize the storage, but the doors should have been a bit smaller or at least the rail could have wider. The proportions don’t really work to my eye.

All that said, my client loved the cabinet and a happy client makes for a good day.

Your comments are always welcome. Thanks for looking at this project.

-- cathyb, Hawaii

20 comments so far

View hoss12992's profile


4180 posts in 3235 days

#1 posted 10-19-2013 12:42 AM

Absolutely love this. Awesome job on this one. Thanks for sharing

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View Handtooler's profile


1628 posts in 3475 days

#2 posted 10-19-2013 12:43 AM

Truely magnificant! You’re a real atrist ans craftswoman. I agree with the minimal orlack of stain for most projects. And I’m finding “Pecan” dust also very fine and sticking to or covering every thing even vertical things in the shop.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 [email protected]

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 4265 days

#3 posted 10-19-2013 12:54 AM

Nice looking craftsmanship. Well done.
You made your client happy and that is the main thing. If we all liked the same thing all the cars on the road would be black according to Henry Ford.

-- Life is good.

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4185 days

#4 posted 10-19-2013 01:19 AM

Cathyb. You scored another great job! I’m ignorant about a clamping noggin. Please enlighten me.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View cathyb's profile


860 posts in 4587 days

#5 posted 10-19-2013 01:38 AM

Thanks guys for your support. Doc a clamping noggin on a horse’s neck is a piece of wood that is part of the original neck, which looks like a level plateau, on the curve of the neck. The noggin is large enough for the head of the clamp and parallel to the horse’s body. Once the head and neck are clamped to the body, the noggin is carved off. You would never know there was ever a noggin, but boy what a wonderful helper.
If I had been smart, the back panel of that cabinet should have had a leg that was proud of the back panel to give my clamps something to hold onto. It would have been easy to keep the leg square in the back. You would never see it and once the top was attached it would disappear. Next time, I will think more about the clamping when I design a piece with an irregular shape.

-- cathyb, Hawaii

View a1Jim's profile


118310 posts in 4920 days

#6 posted 10-19-2013 01:50 AM

Wow that’s very impressive Cathy ,a great build and super finish.


View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 3779 days

#7 posted 10-19-2013 02:19 AM

Beautiful work Cathy! IMO the door proportions look fine. A little tip for clamping irregular shapes. You can add extra clamping points by hot gluing blocks of wood where you need clamps. They pop right off when your done with them and you don’t have to include them in the design. Just add them when you need them.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30662 posts in 3681 days

#8 posted 10-19-2013 02:51 AM

The same high quality work we always see from you. Really beautiful.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 4375 days

#9 posted 10-19-2013 05:13 AM

Very Nice Work Indeed! Thanks For Posting!

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View cathyb's profile


860 posts in 4587 days

#10 posted 10-19-2013 06:17 AM

Thank you. I do appreciate the support. Tom, I will certainly try that technique sometime. It is a great idea.

-- cathyb, Hawaii

View Boxguy's profile


2905 posts in 3610 days

#11 posted 10-19-2013 06:21 AM

Cathy, beautiful work. The acres of sanding and finish and (yuck) stain wear me out just seeing it. Celebrate the money and do something more fun next.

-- Big Al in IN

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4677 days

#12 posted 10-19-2013 08:31 AM

Hi Cathy. The makers are almost never entirely satisfied with the things they make. I think this is what gives us the drive to keep improving on our work and designs. I don’t see any problem with the proportions of your cabinet. It looks like a wonderfully designed and built piece to me.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 3167 days

#13 posted 10-19-2013 10:27 AM

Wow Cathy that cabinet is awesome and the wood is beautiful…Another excellent project from you…Your client must have been very pleased with the finished product.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View Oldtool's profile


3415 posts in 3533 days

#14 posted 10-19-2013 11:10 AM

Beautiful cabinet, excellent craftsmanship. The color and doors look perfect to me. What did you not like about the stain?, what brand is it? The wood figure shows through quite well, I believe. All in all, an excellent build.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12488 posts in 4771 days

#15 posted 10-19-2013 12:25 PM

Another beautiful build, Cathy. Proportions look fine, to my eye. Maybe it’s just the lighting in the pictures but the interior grain is awesome. Does that grain show up as well on the open top’s back?
Love the treatment of the corner supports and the accent wood. What is that wood?
Great looking cabinet!

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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