Mike Cowie makes a corner cupboard and tests his skills

AT THE-TIME I made this corner cupboard, I wanted to move away from the rectilinear into more rounded work, thus offering a broader scope to potential clients. So, with this in mind, I made a prototype, in American cherry (Prunus serotina) and white sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), for display purposes. It is a versatile piece that could be used for anything from a drinks' cabinet to housing a TV or hi-fi.

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 right: Alan Peter's work inspired the curved and fluted doors on this piece


The design was an amalgam of different ideas, not least of which was a console table made by Alan Peters, in rippled sycamore and maple.

The basic premise was to establish a suitable arc, build a frame around it, then joint up doors to fit the gap - easily said! But it was fun to do, and was certainly a learning experience.

Despite the fact that it was not a commission, it was important that it was well designed and made, because I could not afford to waste either the time or money on an esoteric flight of fancy.


The construction of the carcass is fairly straightforward - dovetailed for strength and appearance - I believe that hand-cut dovetails are a pre-requisite of bespoke furniture.

Door construction

Some thought had to be given to the construction of the doors - although they are simple enough in theory. The arc is scribed onto a piece of plywood with the carcass dimensions set out. This is then divided into 25mm (lin) segments, to be used as a guide for the staves. The arc is then bisected and the resultant angle retained on a sliding bevel.

Quartersawn timber is used, cut into strips, 1050mm (41s/6in) long, 30mm (13A in) wide, and 25mm (lin) thick, of which 26 pieces are required, with possibly a couple for spares. The finished size is 25 by 22mm (1 by %in) - allowance being made to flatten after cutting the staves, in case of any stresses within the wood. Prior to cutting, the grain direction is marked on the top of the boards, enabling similar orientation for the doors.


After planing and thicknessing to size, the pieces are graded and a large V is made to indicate position. Using the sliding bevel, with the angle taken earlier, the planer fence is adjusted to this angle and some test cuts done to establish accuracy. It would be possible to saw the staves directly from the solid to the indicated angle, but I elected for the planer and an equal amount of passes on each stave to the required dimensions.


The staves are then placed on the plywood template and adjusted until they conform to the arc. Strips of

Fine pinned dovetails and door-style detail


The handles gave me a great deal of pleasure -for this is an area where I have trouble. I didn't want to mar the front aspect with protruding handles, but in this piece they just seemed to fall into line - I feel that they give it a refined look, together with the American cherry contrasting with the white sycamore.

ABOVE LEFT: The interior, with a solid American cherry back

American cherry veneer are cut the length of the staves, and glued and clamped to each side of each stave, except the side and centre outside pieces. When dry, the veneer edge is trimmed back with a sharp block plane - the end result being 26 Isosceles trapeziums, according to my daughter Claire!

ABOVE LEFT: The interior, with a solid American cherry back

Drawer front and plinth are laminated around a plywood former

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

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