Different Approaches

James Krenov in his book The Fine Art of Cabinet Making describes the alternative method of preparing and cramping curved doors. Krenov likes to hand-plane his joints and glue in stages, usually three, which, with a six stave door, would be three operations - two halves and then the middle joint. As he says, you have to be careful, particularly on the final glue-up as there is a tendency for the last pieces to spring because, at this stage, you have the greatest amount of curvature. He suggests using cramps on either side of the curve, one below and one above.The outside cramps can rest directly on the outside face of the joint which will give some downward pressure and help to stop it springing. A neat tip is to have a lamp or a torch handy to check both sides of the joint - they need to be spot-on, sawing apart a coopered door would not be fun!

Another approach to gluing up all the components of a door simultaneously is to use a jig, see drawing, although you may find that you have to use thin packing pieces to increase the pressure on the bottom of each edge - when it is an outer face it is important to get the joint right.

ABOVE: Thin veneers of American cherry compliment the cherry handles and help break up the whiteness of the sycamore

Coopering doors

The answer I found to gluing-up the doors is a method that has become a favourite - it is to use a spline running the length of the staves, thereby achieving an excellent reference without any side slip when pressure is applied. A 6mm (%in) groove is cut on the spindle moulder, an inverted router, or even a tablesaw with adequate guarding. They are cut for a snug fit - neither too tight or too loose.

Next, the coved sections are cut on the spindle, using a rounded cutter, with test cuts being taken until a suitable shape emerges. Then a tunnel is formed with the guards, with which to pass the staves through safely. Both front and backs are coved in order to improve the look of the doors when open.

From my limited experience of coopered work, I have found that gluing-up in small sections promotes

One method of cramping-up a coopered door

One method of cramping-up a coopered door

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