Conventional Dovetails

SKEW DOVETAILS

• Pin parallel with grain

SKEW DOVETAILS

Fig 3

Fig 3

ensures that there will be no gaps at the front, since walls are rarely true either in old or modern houses.

Again using the template, the ends of the carcass are prepared, preferably together, and the shoulder-lines for the dovetails marked with a gauge.

The doors are now offered up to the ends and the exact outline drawn with a sharp pencil, followed by a 3 or 4mm (% or ^in) allowance for the overhang of the carcass edges.

The steps on the leading edge are best cut with a router against a securely anchored straight edge, moved around the workpiece as each

LEFT: Although both carcass back and end can move together owing to the 45° orientation, ends tend to move more than the backs - hence quartersawn timber preferable facet is worked, followed by removal of the sharp corners.

The aim is to continue the slope of the faceting of the doors across the top and bottom of the carcass.

Dovetails

Conventional dovetails are not suitable for jointing this cabinet since the angle of the grain direction would result in short, and therefore weak, joints -quite apart from the aesthetic consideration, see panel, fig 2. Skewed, or bevelled dovetails are therefore the answer, set out with either a sliding bevel or purpose-made template.

TOP! Photo S Using a template to check angle of back

above: Photo 6 Pin sockets cut - the mitred corners frame the doors nicely

The slope angle should be equidistant around a 45° centreline, with a pitch of 1 in 7 or 8 as in normal dovetails.

The tails are cut on the top and bottom with a dovetail saw, the bulk of the waste removed with a coping saw and the remainder gently pared back to the line with a chisel or chisels.

Getting right into the corner can be tricky - a fine 3mm (itin) bevel-edge chisel is very useful here.

Transfer to carcass

Once the tails are cut, the workpiece can be transferred to the carcass back, and the pins marked with a knife or scriber, ensuring that nothing slips out of alignment.

Cutting the pins is again done with the dovetail saw, coping saw, and chisel. A useful way of speeding up this operation is to use the router in conjunction with a simple but accurate L-shaped jig, set dead level with the top of the pins, instead of paring down to the shoulder line by hand.

These dovetails may look a little unfamiliar and daunting, but are not much more difficult than their more conventional relatives.

Securing the carcass back in the vice to prevent vibration while the joints are cut is usually the biggest headache.

If desired, though not essential, the corners of the carcass can be mitred in a similar way to Colin Eden-Eadon's toilet mirror, see page 34. This is an added refinement which does frame the doors rather nicely, see photos 6 & 7.

Cluing-up

Once the dovetails have been checked over and it is certain they will all locate and pull up to the shoulders, the carcass can be glued-up using sash-cramps and stout blocks to spread the pressure. Again, the assembly must be tested to ensure that it is out of wind before being left to set thoroughly.

After cleaning up the outside, the doors can be fitted, hinged and hung.

Door-pulls are a matter of choice.

On this cabinet simple handles, tapered to match the slope of the door facets, are worked from laburnum (laburnum anagyroides), which compliments the elm quite effectively. They are dovetailed onto the doors, giving extra interest as well as a secure fixing, see photo 8.

Shelves

The penultimate stage is the shaping and fixing of the two shelves. These

RIGHT! Photo 8 Door handle detail BELOW: Photo 7 Checking the fit

DOOR HANGING

Mark the vertical centre line of the cabinet on the inside faces of the top and bottom.

For each door in turn, shoot the hinging edge to fit, then the top and bottom edges until the door will just enter.

Then shoot the closing edge until it is a fraction proud of the centre line. Hinge both doors and hang. Remove a shaving or two top and bottom to allow clearance for the doors to open without binding on the carcass.

Finally, remove shavings from the closing edges until the doors just meet, and the adjacent facets are both in line with each other and parallel to the corresponding steps of the carcass.

If you get plane-happy and remove too much wood from the vertical edges when fitting, the doors can simply be set slightly further back into the body of the cabinet - something you can't do with an Ill-fitting pair of doors in a parallel-sided cabinet!

Catches

When the doors are fitting snugly, catches of your choice can be fitted. I have often used miniature bullet-catches in the past, sinking the body of the catch into the carcass, dispensing with the striking plate and letting a section of dense hardwood, such as ebony, end-grain-on into the end of the door.

But increasingly I use 8mm (Miin) diameter magnetic catches, which are not so unobtrusive but have the advantage of an easily adjustable keeper-plate and, with no moving parts, an almost indefinite life.

are simple quadrants with bevelled edges, secured from the back with screws, the heads of which are counter-bored and pelleted.

This method of attachment is perfectly adequate since cabinets of this type are only ever likely to carry the weight of glasses and other light objects.

The shelves are left until last so that they don't get in the way when the doors are being hung.

Finish

Finally, the surface finish can be applied. Elm looks best in my opinion with a low lustre finish - this piece is treated with several thin coats of Danish oil to enhance the appearance and give a reasonable degree of surface protection.

Fixing

The completed cabinet can be fixed to the wall in a number of ways. In this instance, four counterbored holes were drilled just inside the doors, with removable plugs of elm covering the screw-heads, to facilitate the removal of the cabinet for redecoration or relocation.

Whatever method is adopted, it is important that the natural movement of the carcass, with day to day changes in humidity, is not restricted - nor must the cabinet be distorted in any way, which would throw the doors out of alignment. H

RIGHT! Photo 8 Door handle detail BELOW: Photo 7 Checking the fit

V vAAI^I W IMI linenfold chest above: a linenfold chest -at one time the staple fare of many woodworkers

• MIKE COWIE turned to cabinetmaking after being made redundant 4 years ago. He took a City & Guilds course at Sheffield College which he passed with distinction, set up his own workshop, and is now in the happy position of having as much work as he can cope with

HAT Wot .'ID one lime have been staple tare for cabinetmakers, appears now to be exceptional - the traditional linenfold chest. Having made one myself, I was surprised by the comments it received and the interest that was shown in the linenfolds - I only wish the rest of my work attracted such attention!

A piece of this nature presents good exercise in frame and panel construction plus an opportunity to develop your carving skills - it is fairly straightforward but requires care and attention to detail, that can only be good for future projects.

"It is feasible for a 213mm panel to move up to 6mm"

Construction

The construction of the chest is made up of frame and panel - the main requirement being a good fit, allowing for the movement that will occur. How much movement depends on the dryness of timber, the cut - either flat-sawn or quartered - and whether the chest is destined to be in a centrally heated room. It is feasible for a 213mm (8 A in) panel to move up to 6mm (Ain).

ABOVE! The side panels

FAR LEFT! The linenfold panel

LEFT: The chamfers continue on the inside of the top rails

GLUING-UP

Prior to gluing-up, the carcass is assembled: in sections and belt-sanded flush with a used 120 grit belt, then finished with an orbital sander. The carcass is then glued-up, cutting off any glue deposits whilst still rubbery, as wiping off when wet can inhibit the finish, particularly with oil.

Don't forget to put the panels in when gluing-up -1 did, twice! Use a sharp jack-plane to smooth off the top surface, and level with a block plane to take off the arris all round.

The whole piece is then oiled with Danish oil; giving it five to six coats and allowing 24 hours between each, rubbing down with a webrax pad between coats.

Fit the hinges, and you have an impressive linenfold panel chest and plenty of experience gained in the making!

Frame

I decided to use English oak (Quercus robur) - this should be dimensioned to 73mm (2%in) by 21mm (Vim) for the frame, choosing the best pieces for the top and front -cut to size and morticed and tenoned. It helps to mark these with the aid of a rod to ensure accuracy, the muntins being left until last to obtain a spot-on measurement.

When all items are morticed and tenoned, do a test fit and if you are happy, then draw a pencil line on the areas to be grooved for the panels -disassemble, and cut a 5mm (Xoin) groove - this way I usually get the grooves where they want to be!

For continuity, mitre the corners of the legs, which I feel is the easiest solution. I was tempted to use splines but opted for a simple glue-joint, as there is plenty of surface area - all held together by sellotape - which achieved an excellent result!

The top is of slightly different construction having mitred bridle joints at the corners - this was decided on because of the high stress that is to be imposed on it. Luckily this joint does not show on the front aspect.

Care should be exercised in the

"How about chamfering the edges?" I thought - and so I started on the inside where the mistakes wouldn't show"

below: The top panels are shaped to echo the subtle inside chamfers construction of the top with trial assembles to obtain the exact measurements.

Chamfered edges

Having got this far, and looking at the assembled carcass, I decided that something was missing - apart from the panels! "How about chamfering the edges?' I thought - and so I started on the inside where the mistakes wouldn't show, and progressed to the outside, until there were no edges left.

Panels

The panels are all cut from the same board ensuring a good match of grain and colour. Again, these are thicknessed to 21mm (Vain) and cut to size with the first task being to cut a 22 by 12mm by Am) rebate on the front face and a 12 by 4mm {A by '/¡¡in) rebate on the rear, leaving a 5mm (%in) lip.

CHISELS

The chisels used are a Henry Taylor 20mm No4, Henry Taylor 20mm No6, Henry Taylor 6mm No4, a straight edged skew and two smaller gouges that fit the curves of the folds.

Furniture Making Sheffield College

ABOVE: After initial routing with a cove bit, a block plane and a gooseneck scraper are used to clean up

RICH"!": A rectangle is chopped out to form the flat before the inner fold - the waste is routed out

CHISELS

ABOVE: After initial routing with a cove bit, a block plane and a gooseneck scraper are used to clean up

RICH"!": A rectangle is chopped out to form the flat before the inner fold - the waste is routed out below: The outline of the folds are drawn on the ends ready for marking out with the chisels

Linenfolds

Linenfolds are carved on all the panels, starting at the back - the rationale being that by the time I reached the front panels the carving would be looking good!

Two equally-spaced grooves, 7 by 4mm by %An) are run into the panels with the aid of the tablesaw - this could, of course, be achieved with a router with multi-passes.

On the rebated edge draw a shape that satisfies the required curves -which is used as a marker to cut to. The method I used was a router set with a 19mm cove cutter, but it would be better with a fixed router -although it could be done freehand, with care, if necessary.

The first stage is to make a cut 7mm (%in) deep, either side of the centre line leaving a 2mm (%in) margin in the centre. A similar cut is run 5mm (%>in) from each edge. Then, using the same cutter set according to the drawn shape, adjust and remove the excess waste.

Next is the simple job of smoothing off, using a block plane and gooseneck scraper. Sandpaper, through the grits from 120 to 240, is then used together with a rubber sanding block to finish the surface.

The chisels used are a Henry Taylor 20mm No4, Henry Taylor 20mm No6, Henry Taylor 6mm No4, a straight edged skew and two smaller gouges that fit the curves of the folds.

A gentle slope is carved on the ends and the small V-shape for the inner lolifr

A gentle slope is carved on the ends and the small V-shape for the inner lolifr

Frame and panel».

Mortice and tenon

Mitred

Groove for # bottom support rail

T-shaped support rail

Cedar of Lebanon panels«'

Panelled bottom 4

Groove for panel

Rebated panel

"Almost anything that conforms to the required radiuses will suffice -hardly a purist approach but adequate!"

above! The previously drawn folds are now marked out with the appropriate chisels

above! The previously drawn folds are now marked out with the appropriate chisels top right: The folds marked out, ready for carving above right: The first side is now complete

RIGHT: Undercutting the middle folds

Outlines

The next task was one that I had to give some thought to and I decided that it would be best to work from the middle out.

With chisel in hand, chop a 20mm (%in) deep by 25mm (lin) rectangle, down to the level of the rebate - I think in future I would leave the odd 1 or 2mm (% or '/«.in) to finish later, as the greatest difficulty I found was that of over-cutting which telegraphs through. A small V is then cut out towards the edge, as indicated, which outlines the extent of the folds to be carved later.

Now remains the task of drawing an outline from which the folds can be carved. I thought that this would be the most difficult task and was pleasantly surprised to find that the folds guide the chisel - and the initial care taken is soon replaced by a more confident touch. Unsure which was the right chisel to use, and having a limited collection, I selected a Henry Taylor 20mm No 4, a 20mm No 6 and a 6mm No 4 -and managed to complete most of the work with them.

Starting from the marked outline, and holding the 20mm No 4 at an approximate angle of 30°, chop away the waste, leaving a 5mm (Xtin) edge and a nice bevel on which the folds can be drawn.

lines showing at the sides, so to avoid this, finish before gluing-up.

It was at this stage that I made my biggest error yet - I used garnet polish! I didn't like it, so off it had to come - and it was back to Danish oil, my favourite finish, which gives excellent results from a high gloss and satin, to matt, depending on the effort put in.

Fitting panels

For the fit of the panels allow 2mm (Visin) on either side, allowing an 8 mm (M<-in) groove to be filled to 6mm (!4in) but with a negligible gap at both the top and bottom so

Folds

For the folds, first pencil in the outline then, using suitable chisels, make vertical cuts to conform to that outline, gradually paring away the waste until a satisfactory result is achieved. The primary tool I used was the 20mm No 6 followed by the 6mm No 4, and an assortment of indeterminate sizes, although anything that conforms to the required radiuses will suffice -hardly a purist approach but adequate! Especial care must be taken on the sharp curves as the wood is likely to splinter.

When finished, go over the outline with a sharp chisel and pare slightly to cut a clean smooth surface on the verticals, particularly the central section, trying to undercut slightly. A 6mm No 4 can then be used to bevel all the edges. Needless to say, the chisels should be as sharp as possible for all these tasks.

Finish

After a final check-over and a light sanding, it is time to apply a finish. As I mentioned earlier, the movement of the panels will, if finished in situ, lead to unsightly

Ensure that all the curves are in the right place and preferably make light paring cuts, as oak can be a difficult timber to carve.

"The method I used was a router set with a 19mm cove cutter, but it would be better with a fixed router -although it could be done freehand, with care, if necessary"

izic

in that it is a snug fit.

The top panels differ slightly from the lower, in shape, but also in that a normal fielded panel cutter was used. They didn't seem to fit quite right with the chamfering around the edges, so, taking the 6mm No 4 chisel that was used for the lower panels, I rounded off the corners and coved the edges, which gave a pleasing result.

For the bottom frame and panel construction I used oak with cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) panels which give off a lovely aroma when you open the lid. These were set to the same dimensions as the sides, for continuity, and were fitted in place with the aid of a groove run in 25 mm (lin) from the bottom of the frame, front and back - with a runner inserted into this, and the bottom sitting on it. ■

SUPPLIERS

Suppliers of new carving chisels:

Henry Taylor (Tools) Ltd, Peacock Estate,

Livesey St, Sheffield, S6 2BL

Tel 01 14 234 0282 fax 01 14 2852015

Ashley lies (Edge Tools Ltd), East Kirkby,

Spilsby, Lincolnshire, PE23 4DD

Tel 01790 763372 fax 01790 763610

For new and second-hand:

Bristol Design, 14 Perry Rd, Bristol, BSI 5BG

Tel 01 17 929 1740

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