Wine Sideboard Update: Case Assembly and starting drawers

Assembled case and drawer front selection

Assembled case and drawer front selection (aluminum angle supporting drawer fronts)

When last I posted, I sent a quick poll link for those interested in design, and in particular, wood and grain selection.  The choices included continuous grain in a couple configurations, and bookmatched variations in riftsawn or plainsawn.  There were two lead candidates: In first place was the bookmatched plainsawn shown in (A) below.  The second choice was the continuous grain shown above.  As you can see (above), I ended up choosing the riftsawn continuous configuration.  I oriented the grain in what I call ‘happy’ configuration, where the curvature in the grain generally ‘smiles’ (I’m sure there’s a term for this in mathematics, or even possibly woodworking, but it escapes me at the moment).

plainsawn bookmatch

(A) plainsawn bookmatched configuration (no it’s not curved, it’s an optical illusion…)


Two reasons: 1) My vote was not included in the poll results, and, sorry folks, it counts more (unless, of course, one of the poll takers happened to be the client!)  The reason I preferred the continuous was that the ‘scale’ of the cathedrals in the plainsawn board seemed wrong, over-powering, for the rest of the case, which has little if any pronounced cathedrals in the plainsawn areas, and has quite a few narrow components which mostly have tight, straight rift or quartered grain visible.  2) I intended to actually cut both finalist configurations to size and put them in place on the case as shown in the first image above before making the final decision.  When I went back to the resawn board to start laying it out, I found that a very slight, but inconveniently placed check had formed after resawing that effectively removed this board from the running.  I examined the rest of the red oak stock I have on hand for alternate candidates for bookmatching, but found little else to substitute, so I decided to go with my gut (see reason 1).

A bit on the assembly:

I discussed in the last post that the scallops would be tenoned and mortises would be let into the sides and center divider and the scallops sandwiched between the end and center panels, on both sides of the center divider.  I realized that I didn’t show this in any meaningful way in the post, and I neglected to photograph it so here is a model view or two that shows it somewhat better than I described it.

scallop mortises

Through mortises in center panel, shallow mortises in end panels to support scallops (some scallops removed for clarity)

As you can imagine, there is no “good” way to break the case assembly (no face frame, moldings, or top) into sub assemblies to glue up, so this was a stressful one.   I did a dry-run of the assembly at least three times, to be sure I could repeat it, and found that I needed to construct some quick supports to hold the scallops in rough alignment while pulling the case together and guiding the scallop tenons into their homes.  When it was time to do it for real, I used Titebond II Extend to give myself a little extra working time.

Base Molding

Base molding and face frame - installed

Once the case was assembled with glue dried, I constructed a face frame, then cut some moldings to match that of the client’s existing hutch.  The router bit I had was VERY close, but not exact; the curvature ogee portion was a little too severe compared to the original, so some scraping and sanding (to remove facets left from scraping).  This is where having a set of molding planes (hollows and rounds) would be ideal.  I test drove some of Matt Bickford‘s molding planes yesterday at the Lie-Nielsen hand tool event in Beverly MA, in the workshop of Phil Lowe (Furniture Instutute of Massachusettsand they are REALLY nice.  These are top-notch tools and are nearing the top of my wishlist.  With 4-5 planes, there are literally hundreds of potential profiles that you can make…imagine how many router bits, and how much dust are needed to do that with power tools!  Below, I’ll review my experience at the Lie Nielsen event, but for now, back to the issue at hand.

I’ve begun cutting parts for the drawers, which will be partial overlay drawers, with half-blind dovetails in the front, through dovetails in the back, with the continuous grain oak fronts, and poplar as a secondary wood.  The bottoms will likely also be poplar, though I haven’t committed on that yet.  I’m mildly concerned that poplar will be too soft for the drawer sides and will, over time (decades-centuries) wear down running against the oak frame and runners. I don’t think these drawers will be frequent use, and with some finish and wax, I think it will last centuries.

Next up: Cut the drawer joinery.  For those who are interested, I’m going to try and do it on a live stream here (Ustream).  Stay tuned to @mansfinefurn on Twitter, facebook, or subscribe on Ustream, to hear about it when it happens (this week, I hope)  I’ll also be resawing some 6/4 oak to start on the top.

Apologies to those who tuned into the inaugural live-cast, it was new for me, and not as productive a show as I intended.  (I’m not a front-of-camera kinda guy, that’s my brother’s thing, so I’m still learning)

Lie Nielsen Hand Tool Event Report:

A quick rundown of the folks I met, and what I learned (apologies If I’ve forgotten anyone!)

Peter Follansbee:  Renowned joiner and green wood worker (by green, I mean, straight from the log to the tools…), carver and 17th century expert.  What an approachable, friendly guy, and supremely knowledgeable about a variety of topics in woodworking and other subjects as well.  We discussed working with oak (and the blackening of hands some of you know is bugging me), maker’s marks, and the lack thereof, and the archaeology and historical forensics involved identifying, down to the person, who made the unmarked pieces in the 17th and 18th century.  If you haven’t already, read his blog.  It’s a wealth of information.  Better yet, drop by and see him at Plimoth Plantation and see how it was all done in 1627.

Steve Branam:  Another hugely informative blog, Steve uses hand tools and documents his work very well for the digital consumer.  We talked mostly about rasps, Gramercy in particular which he let me test:  Impressive relative to my grandpa’s old tools, (which is to say I have no good frame of reference).  I meant to try the Auriou rasps Lie Nielsen brought to compare, but in all the excitement, forgot entirely.

Matt Cianci:  Turns out, Matt and I went to high school  together, though he was a year behind me and while I only vaguely remembered him, he remembered me immediately.  Matt has become a handsaw guru since then, and was sharpening away for visitors.  If you have questions on handsaws, need one sharpened, fixed, restored, or just want to talk hand saws, seek him out at The Saw Blog.  I’m looking forward to having him work on some of my old (and new) saws.

Matt Bickford:  I’ll be brief here since I talked about this earlier – we talked about starting out with molding planes, and had some hands on training with hollows and rounds.  As I said before, I’m sold, and they are wishlisted.

Matt Kenney, Sr Editor of Fine Woodworking:  We’ve been in touch on #Woodchat and it was great to meet him in person (though I think I may have met him briefly at last years Lie Nielsen event in Beverly).  He’s got a new video on Fine Woodworking on router tables, check it out.  We talked about dovetail methods and apple wood, which we both love working with.

Tico Vogt:  Tico was there showing his nice shooting board design, the Super Chute.  It’s well designed, well executed, albeit expensive.  If I had $300-something lying around, I’d buy it in a second, but realistically, as a woodworker, i see a good idea (and this one is very good) and make one (though perhaps not as slick) that suits my needs.  I do need to build a new shooting board, and will likely use some of those ideas.

Deneb Puchalski of Lie-Nielsen:  A busy guy at these events, usually can be found demonstrating what a sharp plane and nice saw can do, and how to make the plane sharp.  I only spent a moment speaking with him (in between bites of his lunch, …sorry Deneb!) about low angle planes.  I’m pretty sure my next plane will be a low-angle jack (#62), a kind of multi-tasker that can do endgrain (one of the capabilities I don’t have in a bench plane yet), shooting, smoothing, scraping among other things.  Alas, I left without any Lie Nielsen product, I don’t know how.

I also ran into “@Morton” as I know him through #woodchat (woodworkers:  join us on tweetchat on Wednesdays 9PM EST at #woodchat) who runs M. Scott Morton Furniture Design and Construction, a terrific guy and one I’m glad to have in my network.  I look forward to talking furniture and business with him more in the future.

Last but not least:

Phil Lowe: Renowned period furniture maker, runs the Furniture Instutute of Massachusetts where he teaches, as well as restoring, repairing and conserving the rarest, finest furniture around for clients, museums, and other institutions.  Phil still makes pieces, but most of his time is now teaching and restoration.  I credit Phil with my start in hand tool woodworking; He was my instructor at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine.  I intend on doing further study with him, he’s an outstanding teacher.  We talked business, and I thank him for the tips for starting out he so generously offered.  We also discussed restoration, repair and conservation, the differences between them, and the types of things he sees regularly in each category.  If you are interested in growing your skill in woodworking, go see Phil.

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About Nick

Nick Roulleau is founder, craftsman, designer, joiner, finisher, floor-sweep and all of the other roles at Mansfield Fine Furniture. A woodworker for more than a decade, Nick started the company with the goal of filling the need for heirloom-quality furniture hand-made from premium woods. Every piece is designed to suit the customer's needs and desires, hand-picking each piece of wood, and built one piece at a time, using both modern and centuries-old traditional methods to yield furniture to last for generations.