by Michael Dresdner, in his informative
and hilarious book on finishing, I completely finish coated most
of the parts in the shop prior to assembling and later installing
on the job. The exceptions were the wide (18 1/2" x 5/4)
cherry board forming the top to the lower units, the face frames
and the glued up curved top shown here.
You may notice that the
perimeters were coated but not the rest. This was because some
jobsite fairing and sanding would be necessary on the bullnose,
yet I didn't want to have to spray tight to adjacent vertical
surfaces, which would result in excess overspray. It worked quite
well. Thank you Michael.
Back to Top
& Custom Jig
Nothing beats having
your own machine shop, except maybe a ham sandwich. This dowelling
jig features a choice of 5 registration marks all of which are
within o.ooo5" of bearing the same relationship to each other
and each drill bushing. Drills had to be sprayed with lubrication
before drilling each hole, or they set the chips on fire sometimes
(if they would even go through the bushings).
Except for the lower carcases everything
had to be out of solid cherry. The tops were wide and formed a
"U" shape, surrounded by walls, and had to turn 90 degrees
in two places. In addition, the owner's humidifier was so powerful
both Dave "dog bed" Schrader (whom I often work with)
and I thought he had a plumbing leak. It was like being in the
Congo Rain Forrest there. It was nice getting back to Dave's shop,
where most of the fabrication was done.
So I reasoned the best way to handle expansion
problems was like this. I figured that as the radius top expanded
in the jungle atmosphere, its outside circumference would increase
by a factor of slightly greater than pie. This should allow enough
room for the back slats to expand without causing the whole thing
to self destruct.
And I had bias grain meeting
end grain instead of long grain meeting end grain, and burried
most of the joint behind the face frames and under the sides.Only
the first few inches of the tops actually touch each other. Behind
the face frames, the tops have been cut back. No glue was used
anywhere. Long stainless rods and dog bones were used to draw
the tops together, and the stainless dowells kept them aligned.
Dave and I were able, with the aid of frequent loud and plaintive
stress relief expletives, to spin the corner units into the dowels
sticking out of the center unit, and hook the damn thing together.
Shop Testing Again
Close enough for
pre- installation fairing. I had held off on assembling the sides
of units adjacent to the radius corner units until I knew exactly
where they should go in relation to the bullnose, and the adjacent
faceframe stile. The backs, obviously didn't matter that much. All
the sides were as thick as possible and had 1/2" tennons fitting
into the 1/2" dados in the tops. All the straight counter tops
were one board, as were all the sides and panels except the center
After wrestling with
the corner units in the shop forever, I finally realized that squaring
round objects was taking way too long. So I made a full scale drawing
on melamine and set the corner bases on it where I gestimated they
would probably go - given the shape of the room. Then I was able
to size the more standard "filler" cabinets, fabricate
the tops, then the uppers. But how to get them back together in
the same relative position in that tiny, lopsided room was still
The 7 ' long gismo
pictured above was just the ticket. But if I had remembered to bring
it with us the first installation day, Dave and I wouldn't have
gotten so adept at moving cabinets around to absolutely no purpose
whatsoever for at least two hours.
at Triple Bogey Level
But at least it
didn't rub off. Pictured here is the left side of the jig above.
The outside faceframe stiles of the lower left corner unit fit into
the right slot in the picture above. The oustide faceframe stile
of the other corner unit fit in the corresponding slot on the other
end of the jig. ( In other words, one cabinet stile per each innermost
slot in the first picture)
The edges of the
plywood outside the slots butted the sides of the lower cabinets.
Then we brought the other corner unit stiles into contact with the
two perpendicular legs (shown in the first picture) and centered
the middle lower unit between them, and fastened them together.
Once we had the
bottoms of the lowers all attached, we slid the jig up to the top
of the lowers and repeated the proceedure. This done, we could square
off the jig toward the open end of the horse shoe to determine relative
"parallelity" to the walls.
The outermost slots
fit into the upper units' face frames, and an addition to the perpendicular
legs was hot melted on to account for the larger radius. We then
repeated the same proceedure with the tops of the upper cabinets.
The bottoms of the uppers could not move since they were attached
to the tops.
I had never been
fond of hot melt till Dave introduced me to the orange 3M guns and
their large glue sticks. I won't leave the shop without it, if I
If the above process
sounds easy, don't you believe it. Assembling and disassembling
lowers time and again to hack and gnaw away material that can't
be reached to scribe first, on a finished floor in a teeny little
room in the jungle -well, never mind.
I'm just thankful
I had Dave and the plywood gizmo - if only I could find a cheap
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