I had some nice elm from a tree which had come down in our field, and some burr which I had scavenged from the local hedgerows. Both had been boarded to a generous 25mm (lin) thickness,sticked and air-dried for a couple of years inside my wood store.
As is often the case with elm left standing after the ravages of Dutch elm disease, there was some insect damage. This I had treated with a Cuprinol insecticide which comes in a pressurised can and can be squirted into the holes. I always have a long-term insect-killer in the wood-store and workshop as a general precaution. For safety's sake I repeated the insecticide treatment before the wood went into my kiln, see Coping with stress, page 7, and Turning up the heat, page II.
Selecting the elm was reasonably straightforward. I inspected it carefully, cutting out all areas with insect damage, and marking it out well oversize, allowing for unseen defects.The nicest piece was earmarked for the top as it would be seen the most.
The burr was more difficult as I didn't have much to choose from in the sizes I needed. To check the likely final colour I gave It a coat of white spirit to approximate a varnish finish. Again, it was marked out well oversize and the whole lot went into the kiln for a month.
above: Top, with 'cat's paw' figure on the joint line far rigkr: Plinth detail right: Open back allows ventilation and the tube to overhang
above: Top, with 'cat's paw' figure on the joint line above right: Panels were re-sawn and book-matched - but because the boards were not sequential, one was turned upside down far rigkr: Plinth detail
Sides, base and shelf
The sides, base and shelf are similarly made up, clamped, left to dry and then cut to size.
A slot is cut in the shelf, base and bottom of the sides to take a 5mm (3Ain) ply back to the bottom part of the cabinet behind the drawer. Leaving the back out of the top of the cabinet significantly weakens it, especially when one considers the likely weight of the contents. I was anxious to gain all the strength I could by gluing this back in all around.
Next the housings are cut in the sides to take the shelf and base. All these pieces are finished down to 240 grit and dry-fitted, then glue is applied to all the housings, and clamped, checked for square, and left to set.
The edges of the top are rounded-over to 6mm (Xin) radius and the
"It worked quite well - there was little movement and the width of the shadow-line did not change - but I was lucky"
housings cut to take the sides. The top is then finished, fitted and clamped. The whole piece is finally checked for square and left to set.
The top edge of the plinth is shaped on the router using an ovolo cutter. The front and sides are cut to size and the front corners mitred. The bottom edge is shaped by drilling interlocking 25mm (lin) holes and joining them up with a jigsaw.
The edge is finished with a plane and scraper, and then sanded. The front of the plinth is glued and screwed from the back onto the supporting strip. Glue is applied to the mitre join and the first 75mm (3 in) of the plinth sides, which are clamped into position. The remainder of the plinth sides are left dry and fixed at the back to the side of the cabinet, through an oversize hole with a screw and washer. This is to allow for any movement across the grain in the sides.
The door frames of the cabinet are made from 50mm by 22mm (2in by %in) elm, morticed and tenoned in the usual way. I cut the tenons exactly off the saw, as any adjustment with a plane tends to make them very vulnerable to introducing wind.
The burr panels are made from boards split down the middle and joined up, as in a book matched veneer. Unfortunately the boards I had were not sequential, and the panels did not quite match. I decided, after much deliberation, that they looked better un-matched with right: Open back allows ventilation and the tube to overhang one upside down, rather than matched-but-not-quite!
The panels are rebated into slots in the door frame with 3mm (%in) clearance around the edge to allow for movement and provide a shadow-line around the edge of the burr. It worked quite well - there was little movement and the width of the shadow-line did not change - but I was lucky - I wouldn't use this method again, traditional fielded panels are safer.
The doors are fitted with brass butt hinges, brassed magnetic catches under the top, and arjtiqued drop brass pulls from Savill's.
The drawer casings are made from sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) and the front from solid burr, which are dovetailed back and front.
The base is from oak-faced MDF let into the sides and front, screwed
to the back, and glued all around for strength. I kept the tools extra-sharp when dovetailing the burr -and the Superglue was handy, just in case.
The drawer front is given a little more clearance to allow for the extra movement which can be expected from burr. Antiqued brass handles are fitted to match the drop handles on the doors.
"I kept the tools extra-sharp when dovetailing the burr - and the Superglue was handy, just in case"
I decided not to have a shelf over the video recorder to stand the television on so as to give as much flexibility as possible in the event of a change of equipment. However, I decided to add support blocks to take the weight. These were screwed through from inside the drawer compartment and are not obtrusive.
About 30 minutes after the television is switched on there is a distinct creak as something in the
construction reacts to the change of temperature! I have been unable to find what or where, but the cabinet is still standing and functioning well.
Obviously the measurements given are specific to our TV and video and adjustments would need to be made for individual equipment. I would suggest 25mm (lin) clearance all around for airflow and ease of fitting. Beware wide screen and digital TV ! .T
Everything is checked carefully for clamping marks, glue-oore, and minor defects and then hand-sanded with 240 and 320 grit. Two coats of sanding sealer are applied and each rubbed down with 320 grit.Then, three coats of satin polyurethane varnish, diluted with 'A white spirit, are applied with a pad. Each coat is given 24 hours drying time in a warm, dry, workshop, and then de-nibbed before application of the next coat.The last coat is buffed with a Scotchbrite grey pad and given two coats of wax.
H.E. Savill, Period Cabinet Fittings, 9 St. Martin's Place, Scarborough, North Yorkshire,WO 11 2QH. Tel: 01723 373032
RIGHT: Interior detail showing TV support blocks
RIGHT: Interior detail showing TV support blocks
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