Help with approach to a large console

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Forum topic by GabeATX posted 11-03-2016 02:34 AM 1331 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 1587 days

11-03-2016 02:34 AM

Hey, I’m thinking through my next project and am looking for help with several aspects of the approach.

I’ve got questions about materials, joinery, forming legs, making sliding doors.

Here’s the inspiration.

I would build this at about 72” wide, 24” high and a scant 16” deep to make use of a single sheet of plywood.

First item: Materials

In the example above he makes it with walnut veneer over plywood, plus solid walnut for the face and the base. I am thinking I will do 3/4” Walnut plywood, and have a local shop that sells gorgeous sheets for $115. Within budget. They also have milled (s3s) walnut I can use for the facade—I have a table saw, but am not up for buying a planer or jointer just yet.

Question: I have no idea how veneers work. Would using veneer give me a better shot at creating nice perfect edges where the top meets the side of the console? I want to make something that will look great for 10+ years. Would I be better off just buying hardwood and gluing it up into panels?

Second item: Joinery

Assuming I do this with 3/4” walnut plywood for the top/sides/bottom and one or two 3/4” vertical partitions, I know I could just butt joint it and cover up the front with hardwood pieces. This leaves the edges (top to side) exposed, and I think this would look weird if I used something like 3/4” veneer tape on the sides then had the nice hardwood facade on the front. Maybe this is why the builder is using veneer?

I have not mitered plywood like this, it seems like it could be a solution but I wonder if it would look clean.

Third item: Forming legs

I love the base/legs on this piece but don’t know how I would get that kind of rounded edge. I am thinking I would cut the legs on my table saw and use the table saw to make a simple mortice/tenon. And they would just be more square. Like this:

I haven’t seen other plans or details on how to create legs like this.

Fourth item: Sliding doors

I am thinking I will use a router to cut a track on top and bottom of the cabinet, and use some 1/4” plywood as the sliding door with a thin strip of veneer tape on the vertical edges. Should I be thinking of a more formal sliding mechanism? This should not see heavy use, but I don’t want the veneer getting messed up.

I know this is a lot of questions, if you have feedback or suggestions I’d love to hear it. This project may take me a while to pull off. It’s a little ambitious for my skill level, but I like the idea of making something big that will sit in the living room.

3 replies so far

View Robert's profile


4137 posts in 2394 days

#1 posted 11-03-2016 01:58 PM

I would use the walnut plywood and forget about doing your own veneering. There isn’t much advantage to it other than possibly patterning the veneer in a more appealing way. (Often hardwood plywood has repeating patterns of veneer that can be a little unasthetic).

The top of a piece of furniture can be a signature, or it can be mostly covered up with stuff. Either way, I prefer solid wood for tops. Breadboard edges may be a consideration also especially on a top over 24” wide. With solid wood, you would have to leave a 1” overhang all the way around. My approach would be to build the entire box and then put the top on fastened in such away to allow for movement.

Rabbet the top and bottom of sides and attach with screws from the top/bottom there will not be any exposed edges. Dividers in dados.

If you’re going to do a face frame, the joinery can be traditoinal mortise/tenon or pocket screws. Attach ff by simply glueing on. Flush everything up with a hand plane (do NOT sand them flush).

Personally I think the angle of the legs is too steep. Lots of strain on that joinery. I would definitely pin the tenons.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1833 days

#2 posted 11-03-2016 04:45 PM


Q1. Materials. A top could be solid walnut but a plywood top could also work. Both approaches have the advantages and disadvantages.

The top will see the most abuse and a plywood top has a limited capacity for repair. Gluing solid walnut boards to form the top without a jointer or planer leaves you at the mercy of the hardwood dealer for flat stock that has a fairly consistent thickness. A solid wood top would also require a little thought on how to make the connection to the sides and center divide since the top could expand and contract differently from the plywood.

If you elect to go with a solid walnut top, then considering sliding doors of solid walnut glued-up panels could also be given. The solid doors would look better to me than edge banded ¼” walnut plywood and the solid wood doors would stand up to wear a little better.

Walnut plywood for the rest of the project would work and could save some work.

Q2. Joinery. I agree that veneer edging to cover the exposed plywood edge where the top and sides met would look a little odd. The grain direction of the veneer edging strips would run perpendicular to the top/sides. A strip of solid veneer from a sheet of veneer would solve the change in grain direction problem, but getting a good grain and color match of the solid veneer to that of the panel could be difficult. In the end, either of these plywood edge veneering approaches would probably not look very good.

Overlaying the sides and top of MDF with walnut veneer would solve these problems. I have not worked with veneers, by from what I think I know of this process, it is a lot of work to get just right.

The plywood top could be mitred to the sides. In my hands this would be a challenging joint to execute. It would require complementary end mitres that are straight and free from tear out. Keeping the 72” long top running true throughout the mitre cut on the table saw could be difficult, made easier with a sled. Perfecting the mitred joint with sanding is limited since the walnut veneer over the plywood is so thin. However, if these top to the end mitred joints can be done well and the ends and top are cut from the same strip of 16” wide plywood, the transition of the top to the sides would look really good with a near perfect grain match at the joints.

If you elect a solid wood top, the ends of the top could be rabbeted to cover the edges of the plywood top. Also a dado could be cut in the top and the tongue of a rabbet cut in the side could lock the side into the dado.

Rather than butt joints for the partition and the shelf, snug fitting dados or dados and rabbets would offer a stronger joint and, when accurately placed, greatly aid gluing up the carcase.

Q3. Forming Legs. The mortise and tenon joints would be solid joints for the legs to the long base rail. If the front legs are joined to the front base rail, then a flat assembly would result. A roundover bit in the router could form the roundover you seek. The process could be repeated for the back assembly. The end rails could be straight pieces that could also be routed separately. The front and back and end rails could be joined together and then attached to the carcase or attached as sub-assemblies without first forming the base. In either case, the joint between the end rails and the front and back assemblies will be a weak end-grain joint. This joint could be strengthened with walnut dowels.

Q4. Sliding Doors. I think your concern about the wear and tear of veneer tape is justified and I would therefore avoid veneer tape. An alternative would be solid wood edge band what would cover the vertical edges of the plywood. If the plywood grain is oriented vertically, a little care could result in solid walnut edges with an acceptable grain and color match to the plywood. The edge banding could be flushed up at the router table with a tall auxiliary fence and a flush trim bit. A 1/8” deep rabbet in the back of the plywood and the walnut edge banding (a lap joint) would strength the connection of the edge banding to the plywood. The top and bottom edges would need no edge banding since the ends will be hidden by the grooves making up the door tracks.

Instead of ¼” plywood with edge banding, solid ¾” walnut doors could also be used.

View GabeATX's profile


16 posts in 1587 days

#3 posted 11-03-2016 07:01 PM

Thanks guys, this is super helpful. Lots to think about here. Thinking…

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