Sometimes I wish there were an easy way to build classic furniture. This thought usually crosses my mind when I'm right in the middle of a project that involves dozens of details . . . like this chair-side cabinet.
All of the molding cuts on the top, and the details on the doors make this project quite a challenge. But if it were easier, it wouldn't have such impressive results, and it certainlv wouldn't be half as much fun to build.
choice of wood. When we set out to build this cabinet, we decided to use walnut, solid walnut everywhere. This, of course, meant a lot of work — hand-planing the sides and top to perfection, and making sure all of the joinery allowed for seasonal expansion of the wood.
All of this work may be worth it, but we decided to show a somewhat easier approach — using walnut plywood for the sides, the top and the bottom. This works out well because the four major pieces for this cabinet can be cut from a half (4' x 4') sheet of %" walnut-veneer plywood.
After digging deep in my pocket for the walnut needed for this project, I started cutting it up. The first step was to make two web frames for the false top and the bottom of the cabinet. The frames themselves are identical, but the one for the bottom also has a plywood panel set into it.
To build the frames, the four side pieces (A) and four front and back pieces (B) are cut to width and length, see Fig. 2. Then V* wide, %" deep grooves are centered on the inside edges of all eight pieces. (Although full-length grooves are not entirely necessary on the pieces for the top frame, I
Overall Dimensions: 22"H A Web Frame Sides (4) B Web Frames Frt/Bk (4) C Top Frame (4) D Kick Board Frame (4) E Base Frame (4) F Back Frame Stiles (3) G Back Frame Rails (2) H Door Rails (4) I Door Stiles (4) J Door Mid. Rails (2) K Door Mid. Stiles (4) L Door Panels (8) M Top Panel (plywood) N Bottom Panel O Cabinet Sides P Back Panels x 27%'W-27'/«"D
1 '/>6 x 3 - 26% ,3/i6 x 2'/a - 27% '3/16 x 2'/a - 26% '%6 X 1'/a - 14'/a x 1 '/a - 24 'Vi6 X 1 '/a - 11 "/i6 X 1'/a - 16% '3/l6 x 1% - 1 1 '%a x l3/4 - 73/4
,3/i6 x 4 - 6% Va x 21% - 21% % x 21% - 20% % x 18 - 25'/« % x 10'/a - 14Va
cut them anyway because it was easier to make both frames the same.)
STUB TENONS. Next, the sides (A) of the frame are joined to the front and back pieces with stub tenons. This type of joinery makes the construction of the frames very easy because there's no need for separate mortises. The stub tenons need only be long enough and thick enough to fit in the panel grooves, see Fig. 3.
plywood bottom. After the pieces for the frames are cut, the bottom frame is dry-assembled to get measurements for the plywood bottom (N). The final size of the bottom is equal to the inside dimensions of the frame, plus a total of %" (for two 5/ifi"-long tongues on each side), see Fig. 3. Although the grooves are %" deep, the tongues are cut l/u" short to allow space for excess glue.
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