Monday, September 5, 2011

Cases are Almost Complete!

Cases Together
     Things are coming together and here is the proof of that.  This is the entire unit with the doors loosely set into place so that I could see how the grain pattern would look on the completed piece.  The only thing missing now is the cap that goes onto the front edge, as it is you can still see the plywood edge.  In the background are the panels for the back of each case, they're stained and ready for the finish coat of satin polyurethane. What's been completed so far represents about forty hours of work.  It's kind of like running a long race, at first you just feel like you're slogging along but then you realize you've covered 30-40 miles.  The final stretch always takes a bit longer than you think it should but victory is close and sweet!
     Designing this project had some interesting challenges.  The first was how to design a cabinet that had the appearance of separate Barrister Bookcases but it needed to have different sized shelving areas to accommodate the turntable.  That'll be housed in the center area.  At 80+ inches tall, it would have been too difficult to build and move as a one piece unit so I came up with a way to hide where the two pieces come together.  It separates right above the turntable area.

Using Wax Paper to Prevent the Glue from Joining

Close up of Case Joint Molding
The molding at the case junction is similar in profile to the crown molding.  It is attached to the upper unit which simply slides into position.  To attach it, I put wax paper between the two cases so the glue wouldn't ooze out and attach them -- that could have been a major problem!  These were glued and clamped, and reinforced with a few biscuits for strength.

     In this close up view you can see that there is a slight relief cut on the bottom of molding to help it clear the lower unit.  This is looking at the back of the cases.  The groove visible on the bottom case is what the door pin will slide in.

Guide Block Attached to Door Front

     The challenge of making custom pieces is that no two of them are alike.  To be sure, there are certain operations in woodworking that are the same no matter what the final project will be but usually, each project has it's own set of challenges that need to be solved.  One of those challenges for this project was how to accurately lay out and drill the holes required in the doors.  It was critical that each one was in the proper location or else the doors wouldn't function the way they should.
     To solve that problem I made a guide block that was clamped in line with the top of the door.  Since it's always difficult to measure to the center from both faces the best way to align this block was to the front face of the door on each side.

Drill bit with Stop Collar

     This meant there had to be two holes so that when you flip it to the opposite edge it would line up.  Maybe sounds a bit confusing but not so bad, you just have to keep it in mind as you drill the holes.  By making the guide block on the drill press I was guaranteed a straight hole.  In practice the guide block is first clamped to the door, then the drill bit is inserted into the hole and it's drilled until the stop collar contacts the guide block.

     Now comes the finishing operations.  It's critical that the brass pins used to support and guide each door are a certain size.  My plan is to use wooden dowels first to check the operation and then cut the brass pin the exact, same size.  Because of the nature of wood, there is bound to be some variation in these things but hopefully not too bad.  The brass pins will be attached with either epoxy or crazy glue, I need to do a mock up first.  I'm thinking that the crazy glue would be better because it's thinner than the epoxy so there shouldn't be a problem with it oozing out and showing up on the finish.  Theoretically, they shouldn't go anywhere once they're inserted into their holes.
     Now comes the finishing procedures, this will require quite a bit of sanding since it's made of cabinet grade plywood rather than solid wood.  For solid wood I generally smooth the surface with hand planes -- can't plane plywood!  I'll order the glass tomorrow but I also start teaching the hand tool class at WoodItIs school here in Las Vegas -- really looking forward to that.  I'm hoping that work and weather will cooperate and I'll be able to deliver the completed project in a week.  My clients schedule has him off on Mondays so that's the best day to shoot for completion.  I'll keep you posted.

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