Step-back Cupboard Build

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Blog series by rwyoung updated 09-27-2009 12:59 AM 19 parts 40649 reads 35 comments total

Part 1: Lumber prep

06-09-2009 06:04 AM by rwyoung | 0 comments »

I decided I need a nice place to keep some china what-not that has started to accumulate around here. My parents keep dropping off stuff that they have stored at their house, now it is getting stored in mine… After much looking around and cogitation on the matter, I decided the first thing to make would be a cupboard, specifically a step-back cupboard. These are open on the top, and a closed cupboard on the bottom. Sometimes two pieces, other times one. Later I’ll look into...

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Part 2: Cutting and more gluing!

06-09-2009 06:27 AM by rwyoung | 3 comments »

Now that the sides are sized and cut to length, it is time for cutting feet and marking up to get ready for dados, rabbits and dovetails (dados, rabbits and dovetails, oh my! Sorry Dorthy.). The feet of the cupboard are cut into the sides and two lower front stiles. Notice that the “front” foot is slightly narrower than the “rear” foot. This 3/4” difference will be made up by the stile after it is attached. I drew the shape I wanted on some scrap 1/8”...

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Part 3: More gluing and starting on some dovetails

06-10-2009 05:36 AM by rwyoung | 3 comments »

More panel gluing! Got a blank made for one of two upper shelves. Also completed the blank for the bottom shelf and the top of the cabinet. These are important as they set the width. The top will be dovetailed (half blind) to the two sides. The bottom rides in two dados. I’ll cut the bottom to final size after the dovetails are done and fitted. I’m by no means an expert at hand cutting dovetails. Or machine cutting them for that matter. I can do both and I have on occas...

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Part 4: Chop-chop time

06-11-2009 06:01 AM by rwyoung | 3 comments »

Time to chop the pins for the dovetails. The key for me is making lots of marks on my pieces so I don’t screw up (much). The top is 1/2” narrower than the sides to allow for the back boards to be nailed to the edge of the top. And since the top’s tails are hand cut, they have all the variations that go along with hand cut dovetails (especially mine). So important to mark the front edge and left and right edges. Now get creative with the clamping so the top board w...

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Part 5: Plane, joint, glue, clamp and repeat.

06-13-2009 06:11 AM by rwyoung | 2 comments »

Tonight was panel making time for the 6 shelves in this cupboard. The bottom and middle shelves are wider because they will dado into the sides. Furthermore, the center shelf gets even more treatment because it forms the top of the closed portion of the cupboard and extends out a little on three sides. Here is what the finish sized blank for the center shelf looks like:The lip will be have a thumbnail edge added for a little bit of detail. There are two lower “floating” sh...

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Part 6: Dados, dryfit and glue-up!

06-14-2009 07:03 AM by rwyoung | 1 comment »

Good progress today. Got the case assembled. Before I assembled the case I had a little more work to do on the middle shelf. I wanted a table top edge on it. I’ve got a 7/8” table thumbnail edge bit that I like. Not an expensive bit, less than $20 I think from Super Carbide Tools This bit is about 2-1/2” tip to tip so the router needs to be slowed down. Consult the manual for your router if it is a variable speed. Or the manual for the external speed controller...

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Part 7: Shelves and cleats

06-14-2009 03:29 PM by rwyoung | 0 comments »

The blanks for the upper and lower “floating” shelves will have a simple bull-nose profile routed on them. This is the same profile shown in Mike Dunbar’s article and I like the look. But I had to go pick up a bull-nose bit (Freud, purchased at local Woodcraft). I got a 3/16” radius version. Should work out just fine. This is not a bearing guided bit so the router table fence must be set up correctly. My first try, I had forgotten to tighten the bolts that ...

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Part 8: Cut nails and scant holes

06-19-2009 05:50 AM by rwyoung | 2 comments »

Cut nails and scant holes. Everybody has a set of gimlets just gathering dust in the junk drawer, right? I know I could have used a twist bit and the cordless drill and zipped right through these but this seemed like so much more fun. A set of gimlets isn’t very expensive and I can see where they would come in handy in confined spaces and tight corners. I also got my cut nails last week. Ordered them from Tremont Nail Company . Played around a little bit with a few before star...

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Part 9: Milk paint test

06-19-2009 05:53 AM by rwyoung | 5 comments »

I got my small pint samples of milk paint today. There are a couple of different sources for the powdered mix, I happened to pick these guys Old Fashioned Milk Paint because should I realize in the middle of painting that I need more, I can zip over to Woodcraft and get a small package to finish up. Another alternative is to simply make the paint. I did experiment a little bit with this using powdered milk, a lemon and some food coloring. I wasn’t expecting any kind of deep colors...

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Part 10: Lower case stiles

06-22-2009 04:40 AM by rwyoung | 1 comment »

Just didn’t have a lot of time on my hands like I expected this weekend. Isn’t that always the way? Anyway, to the cupboard! The plan had been to get the lower case stiles attached as well as the upper face frame. Then I could attack the door and top molding (that will be interesting). As it was, all I got done was to mill the boards for the lower case stiles and the stiles and rails for the door so they are all the same thickness. Here you can see the two lower case sti...

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Part 11: Simple router mortise jig gets some shop time

06-23-2009 05:21 AM by rwyoung | 0 comments »

I cut and milled the stock for the upper face frame this evening. This frame has only three sides, two stiles and a top rail. Just for giggles, the top rail is going to be joined with a mortise and tenon joint. Could just have been a butt joint, biscuits or heaven-forbid, pocket screws! But a M&T joint seems most appropriate. With 3/4” stock, this isn’t exactly going to be a super strong joint. Just want something reasonably sturdy, not like this is a load-bearing member...

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Part 12: In the immortal words of MC Hammer: Stop! Router Time!

06-25-2009 03:38 AM by rwyoung | 0 comments »

(I’ll translate for those of you on the east coast, Rhouta’ Time ;-) ) I glued up the two stiles and rail for the upper face frame. Something to keep in mind when doing any sort of work is the order of operations. Round over before glue up? After? The reason I mention this is because I made a strategic choice about when to chamfer the inside edge of the frame. I could have done the chamfer on the pieces before glue-up and also cope the shoulders of the rail to fit or m...

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Part 13: Face frame attached

06-26-2009 05:00 AM by rwyoung | 0 comments »

All I had on the docket for tonight was to get the upper face frame glued on and the necessary cleanup. Done. Nothing more complicated than doing a dry fit to prep the clamps and glue that puppy down. The clamps I’m using have heads sized so that a 2×4 can be used to lift workpieces and clear the head of the clamp. Notice the glue run near the center of the side. Not a big deal, I caught as much as possible. The rest gets scraped and sanded when the clamps are off. Easy pe...

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Part 14: Molding

06-29-2009 04:10 AM by rwyoung | 2 comments »

I don’t own any giant molding bits. So if I’m going to make a reasonably large molding for the top of the cupboard, then I’m going to have to make it in smaller pieces and glue it together. Not as hard as it sounds. What was hard though is I decided it had to look nice AND could only be made with bits I already had. The original article I’m taking my inspiration from has some sample moldings and while I don’t have all the same profiles, I can get pretty clo...

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Part 15: Attaching the molding...

06-29-2009 04:27 AM by rwyoung | 1 comment »

Been a pretty long day of fiddling with test cuts and what not. I don’t have a fancy miter saw (I do have a crappy plastic miter box but it is pretty far out of whack). So to cut the miters for the molding I’m using my table saw. With a few test cuts and a little tweaking you can get a very good fit. :) First step is to attach the 1/2” thick piece with the single ogee: Next we add the larger built-up molding: And here we can see another interesting point. I w...

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Part 16: Making the door

07-04-2009 12:36 AM by rwyoung | 1 comment »

I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the process of assembling the door. It is really just the repetition of the same sort of panel glue-up steps and router work illustrated before. A good video podcast of frame and panel door making can be found at 1) Compute final panel size based on door. I know that my rail and stile set creates a 3/8” deep panel groove. Width:2 x StileWidth + [email protected] + 3/4” = 13-7/8” Height:StileLength ...

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Part 17: Been busy with other things but finally have some time to work on the cupboard!

09-12-2009 08:07 PM by rwyoung | 0 comments »

Once more into the breach! OK, so the door is hanging temporarily. Since I don’t have back boards on the cupboard yet, this is a pretty easy scribe. Zip, zip, mark, mark. I don’t have a terribly fancy bench so a little bit of creative clamping is in order. People make fun of Harbor Freight for a lot of stuff but their wooden handscrew clamps are a darn good deal. Can’t have enough of them! Use one at each end of the workpiece and then clamp them to the overhang on...

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Part 18: Cupboard backboards

09-13-2009 01:19 AM by rwyoung | 4 comments »

After a burger and fries for lunch I decided to keep working on the cupboard. The knob and latch needs a turning billet so I can go to the lathe and make chips. And the back boards need milling and rabbets. So while the glue up for the billet dries, its time to make shavings. The back of the cupboard will be 1/2” boards of slightly varying widths. The boards will be ship-lapped and rest in a rabbet on the back of the case. Cut nails along the top, bottom and the fixed shelf will...

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Part 19: Time to watch the paint dry!

09-27-2009 12:59 AM by rwyoung | 7 comments »

The cupboard will be painted with milk paint ( ). I’m using two colors, mustard and barn-red. The paint comes powdered, mix it with water to get a nice paint like consistency. Keep stirring until the powder is well dispersed. Let the mix stand for about 10 or 15 minutes then strain it to remove the lumps. Milk paint doesn’t have a lot of body especially the light colors. It acts more like a wash coat. So for the mustard I’m going to need...

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