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Archives for March 2011

A Custom Bathroom Wall Cabinet with Raised Panel Doors

“It’s not that I had a message that was outstanding or unique or anything like that. I just expressed the feelings that a great number of people had … ‘Live the life that you want to live. Don’t be unhappy in your work.'” …James Krenov (1920-2009)

In this woodworking article we study the making of a custom bathroom wall cabinet of beautifully grained black walnut with raised panel doors. The cabinet measures 20″ x 24″ x 5″ and features brass cabinet hardware. Bridle joints are the choice of wood joinery for the frame and panel cabinet doors. The carcase of the cabinet is joined using a biscuit joiner, biscuits, yellow glue and butt joints. All the walnut stock has been dimensioned to 3/4″. The back panel is 3/8″ thick and has been let into rabbets on the inside back edges of the top, bottom, and sides. The panel is made of a 1/4″ MDF core with front and back veneers of 1/16″ bookmatched walnut. Veneer was ripped on the band saw, the edges were jointed on the jointer, and then matched together during a dry fit. Finally, the MDF and veneers were laminated using glue and a veneer press to create the panel.

Constructing the Door Frames:

1.) The dimensioned material for the rails and stiles is 3/4″ x 1-3/4″. A 1/4″ groove to house the raised panels was then created for each rail and stile on the table saw using a dado blade combination.

2.) The bridle joints were created on the table saw using a tenon jig along with a dado blade setup. The mortises of the stiles were initially cut and the the tenons of the rails were then sized to fit. Final fitting of the mortise was made using a shoulder plane. Make sure the fit is snug and is a good looking fit as this joint will be exposed revealing quality craftsmanship. (The Spline Miter Joint is also a great choice of decorative joinery as it is also a very stable and strong joint.)

Creating the Raised Panels:

1.) The walnut material for the raised panels was selected because it had a lighter wood tone than the rest of the cabinet thus creating a nice contrast. This particular wood was chosen because it has a wonderful grain pattern.

2.) The raised panels were cut on the table saw. First, the rectangles of each raised panel were scored to about 1/8″ using a dado blade. This procedure involves the panel laying flat on the table saw. The rip cut is performed with the fence in position and the cross cut is made with the aid of a miter gauge set to 90 degrees to the dado blade. Keep in mind that this operation needs to be performed four times because there are two panels and two sides to each panel. So, use the same tablesaw set up for each panel side.

2.) To create the angle for the raised panel we tilt the dado blade to 5 degrees and raise the dado blade to the height of the scored outline we created in the previous step. For the actual cutting of the 5 degree angles a shop made jig was used. The jig fits over the table saw fence, has a handle, and slides along the fence as the panel is secured in place with a toggle clamp.

3.) Any necessary clean up of the raised panels angles is performed with the shoulder plane.

Assembling the Raised Panel Doors:

1.) Dry fit the raised panels into the 1/4″ groove of the rails and stiles. Make sure the fit is snug as it need not be too tight or too loose. Bevel the raised panel edges with a block plane if need be.

2.) Next we dry fit the complete door assembly. When we are happy with the results of the door’s fit it’s time to prepare for the final assembly of our doors.

3.) For the gluing operation we will need a glue bottle, parallel clamps, F-clamps, cauls, glue brush, rags, etc. (Use F-clamps to create pressure on the bridle joints.)

4,) Apply yellow glue to the surfaces of the bridle joints. Remember…only apply a dab of glue to the center of each raised panel where it meets the rail. This will allow for seasonal wood movement of the panel.

Fitting the Raised Panel Doors:

Fit the doors into the opening of the carcase by obtaining the desired clearances at the top, bottom, and sides. (I left 3/32″ on both sides where the hinges are and left a 1/16′ margin at the top and bottom. Where the two doors meet in the middle I left a margin of 1/16″.) Also, it is important to back bevel the doors edges where they meet in the middle. This will allow the necessary clearance for the doors to open freely without hanging up on one another.

Mortising the Gains for the hinges on the carcase and on the doors:
Choose a method that works best for you. You can use a router with a template made for the hinge size or you can simply cut the gains using a mallet and a chisel. Yours truly laid out the location of the gains using a knife, combination square, and a butt gauge. Then it was time for the mallet, chisel, and some hand work.

Fit the shelves:
The shelves have a thickness of 5/16″. Shelf pins are set into the interior’s side walls at desired locations.

Hanging the Cabinet Doors:
Brass hinges were used in this instance. I like the look of brass against the walnut’s wood tones. Get a nice fit with the hinges.

Set the door knobs:
Choose your location and drill. When drilling make sure to use a backer board to avoid blowing out the backside of the stile. Decorative brass door knobs were the selected hardware choice.

Apply the Wood Finish:
1.) Remove all the hardware.
2.) Sand and scrape the walnut to a desired surface preparation. This cabinet was sanded to 400 grit sandpaper.
3.) Choose your favorite wood finish and apply. Numerous applications of Satin Arm-R-Seal urethane top coat were applied to the custom bathroom wall cabinet and raised panel doors.

Attaching the Cabinet to the Wall:
1.) There are two 1/4″ x 2″ x 18-1/2″ rails inside the cabinet. One interior rail is placed where the back panel and the cabinet top meet. The other interior rail is placed where the back panel and bottom meet. (Screws will be driven through these rails.)
2.) The desired height of the cabinet location was determined. Wall studs locations were also found. Screw holes were pre-drilled and countersunk in the interior back rails. Screws were then driven through the interior rails and the back panel and also into the wall studs to secure the leveled cabinet.

Learn more about Bridle Joints.

The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

A Sicilian Walnut Table with Decorative Wood Inlay Banding

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.”
Dante Alighieri…Italian author and poet (1265-1321)

This beautiful and elegant table was recently built in the woodworking shop of a Italian craftsman. Vincenzo, our woodworking friend lives in the beautiful Mediterranean town of Mazara del Vallo which is on the west coast of the island of Sicily. Vincenzo sent pictures of his build that is quite inspiring. His table is made of wonderfully grained walnut and has shop made decorative wood inlay bandings of maple and rosewood. The wood finish consists of six coats of shellac and buffings of wax that bring about a gloss finish.

Vincenzo contacted me towards the end of 2010 after viewing the post, Creating your own Wood Inlay Bandings…The Secrets Revealed. It was at this time that Vincenzo asked if I would consider filming a video of this wood inlay banding pattern. At my Italian friend’s request the video tutorial was filmed and the creation of this banding pattern was documented.
Recommended Video:
Wood Inlay Banding – How to Make Barber Pole Banding

The inlay banding for Vincenzo’s table was built using the band saw along with a shop built tilting band saw miter sled. This was the same technique that was used in the video. As one can see in the photos the inlay segments are all of equal length and have uniform angles that make for nice, tight joints of the banding pattern. The photos also indicate how well the width of the inlaid wood bandings fit into the routed out recesses. It is easy to see that great thought and care were used when making the wooden inlays. Along this same line, keen woodworking skills and patience were employed when the furniture inlays were applied to this exquisite piece of furniture.

Recommended Video:
Tilting Bandsaw Miter Sled

A few things to note:
1.) Check out the classically detailed edging of the cove and bead moulding combination around the tabletop.
2.) Take a look at the table legs which are simply elegant. The legs are tapered, squared to accept the rails, and have a distinctive dado which defines the separation from the square to the taper. There is even a bead element included at the dado relief. This is a very well thought out design!
3.) A front drawer is also included. Notice how the ornamental wood inlay banding design is laid out on the drawer’s face. There is a nice even margin of walnut along the edge of the drawer that is equal to the banding’s width.
4.) The front drawer is constructed with dovetail joinery.

Vincenzo…Thank you for sharing your finished product with all of us as it is very inspiring. Your wonderful wood inlay bandings provide a lovely accent for a finely crafted table that will surely be an heirloom. Great job!

Check out these Wood Inlay Banding Designs:
Buffard Freres…The 1926 Wood Inlay Banding Catalog

The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

Gustav Stickley…Father of the American Arts and Crafts Movement

Gustav Stickley


“Make life better and truer by its perfect simplicity.”
Gustav Stickley (March 9, 1858-April 21, 1942) Manufacturer of furniture, leader for the American Arts and Crafts Movement

Who was Gustav Stickley?


Gustav Stickley, Father of the American Arts and Crafts movement

Who was Gustav Stickley and where was he from? What were his influences that led him into the Arts and Crafts movement? How did his business become so successful? What caused his business to file for bankruptcy? This video and article will shed some light on Gustav Stickley, Father of the American Arts and Crafts Movement.

Gustav Stickley (1858)-1942) started his furniture company in upstate New York in 1898. His company was known as the Gustav Stickley Company – Craftsman Workshops. Business took off and the company became very successful as retail stores in New York, Boston, and Washington DC sold his furniture. Stickley was heavily influenced by the British Arts and Crafts movement, however he advocated the creation of a distinctive style for America that embodied craftsman furnishings, architecture, handicrafts, and the principles of a harmonious lifestyle. Gustav wanted to “make life better and truer by its perfect simplicity.” This can be seen in the designs of his furnishings.

Arts and Crafts magazine, The Craftsman by Gustav Stickley

Interior view of a Stickley Craftsman home.

Morris chair by Gustav Stickley

Gustav Stickley & The Craftsman Magazine 


Stickley started The Craftsman magazine that was published from (1903-1918) and it was in this monthly journal that plans for “Craftsman” houses were sold. However, interior illustrations of these homes provided a view inside the residence as well as a place for where the furnishings of Stickley furniture for the house could be displayed. This was a brilliant form of offering the “Craftsman” lifestyle and it was a great way to advertise the Stickley arts and crafts products available for sale.

Much of what Stickley did was driven by commercial impulses. However, his offerings taught and inspired many artisans, designers, and architects. His message and philosophy continues impact those who aspire to a simpler way of life.

Find Arts and Crafts Plans and Books

Videos and Articles of Legendary Woodworkers:
Sam Maloof…Woodworking interview…1982

Remembering James Krenov
James Krenov…Legendary Woodworker 1920-2009

The Apprentice and The Journeyman University


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