Mequite Magazine Cabinet

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Project by Reddial posted 02-27-2014 08:30 PM 2165 views 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Just completed this Greene and Greene inspired mesquite cabinet. It was designed to hold magazines and catalogs and compliments other pieces of G&G style furniture I have created. The oversized finger joints, ebony accents, and cloud lift are reminiscent of the great G&G arts and craft style.

Some say mesquite is extremely hard to work with. Full of worm holes, splits and knots. Probably all true. But, that is the very reason it is one of my favorite woods. I normally fill the imperfections with West System (resin) colored black, but for these current pieces I used copper dust in the resin and stayed with the ebony pin caps.

The oversized finger joints were cut on my table saw with a dado blade. Each ‘nibble’ was 3/4” by 7/8” deep. I installed (temporarily) the 3 sets of Blum slides to the inside before gluing up. This is much easier than trying to accurately align them after the cabinet is glued. Like any really hard wood, you must drill screw pilot holes a little larger to avoid twisting off screw heads. And if you are using brass screws as I did for the hinges and pulls, make absolutely certain you use good quality steel screws in each hole first.

It is rare to find Mesquite wider than 8-10”. And it is very hard to do grain matching when splicing for wide widths. However, I think this is part of the unique beauty of mesquite. Biscuit joinery was used for all the splicing.

Although I had included split, 2 piece doors on previous projects they still presented some special challenges. You can see the pin placement that was necessary to allow for normal wood movement when you don’t have the normal stile on both sides of the door panel. So these door panels are ‘floating’ and pinned at the center only so all the movement is from the center to each side where space balls were used to hold them tight to eliminate rattles. Additionally, the cloud lift design does not allow the normal slide in of the panel following glue up of the door stiles and rails. Brusso solid brass hinges were used.

The drawer sides, back and bottoms are Baltic birch and joined to the mesquite fronts by a locking joint created with a special router bit. This was a big deviation from my norm. I usually hand cut dovetails and use solid wood for the entire drawer. I suppose the joint is OK, but no more Baltic birch drawers for me. It doesn’t look good and you need special sized router bits to cut the dados for the bottom and backs if you want a tight fit.

I made adjustable feet hidden in square mesquite buns on the bottom.

For the finish I sanded inside and out to 320 and applied General Finish Arm-R-Seal. Generous first coat wiped on with a cotton pad. After 5 min, wipe off completely with clean cotton cloth. Then for the next two coats, apply gently with a Liberon 0000 steel wool pad. Then wipe completely with clean dry cotton cloth. 24 hrs between coats. Final touch was rubbing with a pad of folded white printer paper for an ultra smooth finish.

Lessons learned:
1. Blum Tandem blumotion slides were an expensive ($150) overkill (also very touchy to install).
2. Again, I feel the Brusso hinges are worth the extra $$ ($100 for 4).
3. No more Baltic birch drawers.
4. Experimented with aniline dye (both water and alcohol based) on quarter sawn white oak and it will not work.

-- Darrel..."The biggest threat to 'good' is 'better'.

10 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30568 posts in 3225 days

#1 posted 02-27-2014 09:11 PM

Really cool. I love mesquite.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View jinkyjock's profile


488 posts in 2461 days

#2 posted 02-27-2014 09:40 PM

Fantastic, your book-matched door panels are stunning. Have never seen Mesquite let alone worked it, but looks similar to our native Elm with loads of wavy and interlocking grain. Are those Medullary rays, similar to 1/4-sawn Oak.

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3314 days

#3 posted 02-27-2014 10:02 PM

All your projects are an inspiration to me – Thanks for posting.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View MichaelA's profile


778 posts in 3775 days

#4 posted 02-27-2014 11:11 PM

Wonderful project, I’am with Monte I to Love Mesquite!!!!! The wood has so much personality in the grain. After you have learned to carve Mesquite and Texas Ebony, all other woods seem rather soft!!!!! Beautiful Project, using that copper dust with Resin sounds interesting. I might just try it!!!!! Thanks!!!!

-- The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. "Helen Keller"

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3577 days

#5 posted 02-28-2014 03:21 AM

I too am a mesquite lover despite some of its less desirable working characteristics. You project turned out just beautifully (especially like the book matched doors).

I usually finish my mesquite projects with a rubbed on coat of BLO followed by padded on shellac and really like the look.

Bet your shop smells great!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2711 days

#6 posted 02-28-2014 11:40 AM

Very nice magazine cabinet, the wood looks great and the joinery plus ebony plug, excellent build. I really like the design of the drawers..thanks for sharing.

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

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3753 days

#7 posted 02-28-2014 05:03 PM

This looks very nice. Well done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Barksavage's profile


39 posts in 2432 days

#8 posted 03-04-2014 03:38 PM

Mesquite is a difficult wood to deal with. You did it well my friend.

-- Barksavage

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3062 days

#9 posted 03-05-2014 04:21 PM

Fine piece of furniture! Great design and very well executed. The mesquite is gorgeous and joints are awesome. Excellent job!

View uglyduck's profile


6 posts in 2711 days

#10 posted 06-12-2014 06:22 AM

Excellent work, I especially like the copper dust. I think Turquoise is a bit overdone and the copper pays tribute to our home state.

By the way, I still haven’t used the dovetail jig I bought from you. You were right about cutting them by hand :)

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