View Full Version : Diagonal grain for panel?? / Tool cabinet preview

Bob Jones
06-09-2012, 12:50 AM
Working on my latest project and I need a word of confirmation. Quick question - see the 2 pictures of a walnut board that I am about to hack. Notice all the diagonal cuts, I have a purpose. I want a diagonal grain pattern for some panels (for a door). Will this work? My plan is to rough cut them from the board, glue the two closest pieces together on their diagonal, then shape them down to 4 raised panels. Am I way off???? The board is big, but a bit warped, so cutting it down is a good thing, really. It also has a few knows that I am working around. Any advise is appreciated.

Bob Jones
06-09-2012, 1:01 AM
For a bit of context, the doors are for a new tool cabinet that I am building. I am calling it my "Christian Tool Cabinet". I think the reason is obvious in the doors. I thought it was an original design, until I saw something similar in a Shaker book. Anyway, I want the grain to "radiate" from the cross center. See the view from the front of the cabinet, the walnut panels will go there.

A bit about the cabinet - it is cherry that I bought from a logger on craigslist. Same for the walnut. Anyway, I think the case design is called "clam-shell", but I am really not certain. It is 40in tall, 30in wide, and the case is 10in deep. The doors are 3in deep. The door and case are dovetailed and I plan to nail the frame and panel doors to the front of the dovetailed part of the doors. I hope that makes sense. The case has a center board that runs top-to-bottom and is in a dado and has wedged thru tenons. I plan to make a back that is lapped, but that comes after the doors.

I usually do not post "in process" pics because I am such a slow worker, but I could really use advise before I mess up this board.


Jeff Heath
06-09-2012, 10:39 AM
Remember this......long grain to long grain glue joints are very strong.

End grain to end grain joints don't glue well at all. My ailing eyes have difficulty with internet photo's, but it appears as though you are planning a fleet of end grain glue joints. If so, they will fail.

Nice cabinet, though.


Maurice Ungaro
06-09-2012, 12:50 PM
Why not veneer it? That's the classic approach to that design conundrum.

Bob Jones
06-09-2012, 12:55 PM
Good point on the end grain, that was not my plan. I laid out the grain to go diagonal to each piece. I'm basically going to cut triangles from the board and glue them back to make rectangles. I think I just go for it.
I'm not good enought for veneer yet :)

Todd Burch
06-09-2012, 1:08 PM
Adding splines will ensure success.

Andrew Pitonyak
06-09-2012, 1:28 PM
I recently read an article in a magazine, I need to check which, that did something similar on a door. The grain rain diagonal so that all joints had a mixture of cross grain and long grain glue contact. Certainly biscuits (or similar) would strengthen the joint. My primary concern is in having grain running in different directions along a glue joint and how expansion and contraction will play into that. I lack the experience to say, but, perhaps they don't even need to be glued together (center ply backer with the boards used as a veneer) or a rabbit at the intersection point where the boards overlap.... I have no idea how that would look.

What you have now looks very nice. Hope to see the final project. How did you cut your dove tails?

Jessica Pierce-LaRose
06-09-2012, 1:29 PM
You making me feel bad about the tool cabinet I'm in the process of cobbling together out of home center poplar, Bob. This is going to look great. Can't wait to see the final thing.

Is this going to hang from a wall? If it was, I might have been tempted to put the tails the other way, so if a lot weight gets put in the thing, the slope of the tails would help resist the bottom pulling out. Not a likely mode of failure, I suppose.

Jessica Pierce-LaRose
06-09-2012, 1:39 PM
Looking at the question at hand - I don't really see the issue. If I understand the pieces you want to make, the joints you're doing are really nothing different than normal edge jointing of boards, it's just grain of the resultant piece runs diagonally in relation to the finished shape rather than ending up with a wider rectangle like we normally end up with edge jointing. The grain of the two pieces being glued to each other is the same relationship. So no problem there.

Assuming you follow standard frame and panel construction, and don't glue the panel in place (because it's solid wood and not ply) everything should be fine, assuming you leave enough groove for your panel to expand into when it expands, and have enough panel hidden in the groove that when it contracts it doesn't show. I'm not sure you really need to leave any more room than you normally would for a panel of this type of wood, but I haven't sat down and thought out the changes in size as the wood moves. But yeah - it's wood, it moves, account for that movement and you're fine.

The only thing I might a little concerned about is if you go screwing things to the back of the panel to help hold tools inside the door - a long bracket (to hold a series of screwdrivers for instance) that was screwed down over it's length to the back of the door might prevent the panel from moving the way it wants to and cause a crack. I've seen this failure on some cabinets at antique shops.

Chris Griggs
06-09-2012, 1:45 PM
For some reason I'm having trouble picturing exactly what you're planning for the panels, but I wanted to say that the cabinet looks REALLY nice. Please post completed pics when you are done. Love it so far!

Bob Jones
06-09-2012, 9:45 PM
Joshua, I think you have it right on all points. The boards will be glued up long grain to long grain. I've just never seen the exact same thing and I was wondering why.
About the dovetail direction, I thought the same as you. I did a little research and found that the 2 wall hanging cabinets in the toolbox book by toplin (studley was one) had the dovetails arranged this way. I'm not sure why, but I figured that mr studley certainly knew more than me! Thanks for all the kind words. I will post more pics as I progress. It's a slow process.

Someone asked how I cut the dovetails. With a handsaw, a marking knife, and a few sharp chisels :)

Jessica Pierce-LaRose
06-09-2012, 10:16 PM
For clarification, this is what I assumed you were talking about when I replied:


A panel made of pieces like those shown in the top of my beautiful artwork - with the grain running corner to corner on the triangle, and the edges highlighted in red are the glue join?

Those "diagonal" panels are then trimmed and put in a normal frame and panel structure so the grain in the panels is layed out like the drawing at the bottom?

(I know, I know, people tell me I should be making a living with my art)

Andrew Pitonyak
06-09-2012, 10:31 PM
I took a look in "Make Your Own Handcrafted Doors & Windows" by John Birchard. On pages 132-134 he shows a door with the grain running at an angle for an inner panel created using tongue in groove.

Andrew Pitonyak
06-09-2012, 10:39 PM
Someone asked how I cut the dovetails. With a handsaw, a marking knife, and a few sharp chisels :)

Well, they sure look nice! I wondered if you had done them by hand. I need to practice my sawing to the line perfectly square and straight. I think that will help a lot.

Mark Dorman
06-10-2012, 11:09 AM
So Bob; Would this style be called Praised Panel? I really like the idea and it should look awesome. I look forward to the pictures.


Bob Jones
06-10-2012, 1:06 PM
Joshua, your art has captured it nicely. I should have posted something similar to reduce confusion. Thanks

Bob Jones
06-10-2012, 1:10 PM
Thanks Andrew. Practicing straight cuts is helpful. My two tips would be have a nice, sharp saw and make 30 practice joints before doing a real project. Chris S. suggests that. I bought some 4in poplar from the BORG and went to work. Great results!

Bob Jones
08-02-2012, 10:55 PM
Thought I would update the pictures. It's a realy slow progress - lots of house projects that come first. Anyway, I have completed the panels. Here are a few pictures of the process to make the panels.

Here you can see how I took the panels from the board. My preferred method for these big rough cuts is a handheld circular saw on a sacrificial table.

Bob Jones
08-02-2012, 10:58 PM
Next comes cleaning up the panel halves to get them ready to be glued together. planing these things was a little tricky, since they were triangles and ROUGH sawn. :)

I matched the halves for appearance and to get the grain running the same direction (note the arrows).

Bob Jones
08-02-2012, 11:01 PM
Once the halves were jack planed, I jointed the long edges and glued them together. Note the panel is still oversized a bit.

Then I decided which panel to put where so that the best face was forward and the grain radiated out from the center.

Bob Jones
08-02-2012, 11:07 PM
Then i sawed & planed the panels to the right size and planed the "raised" chamfers. The chamfer is approximate, with no distinct edge. I've never made solid wood panels before - it was pretty fun. You can see the completed frame that will be the face of the doors. I plan to glue & nail them to the dovetailed "clamshell" doors and then plane everything down to final dimensions. Note, the door frame still has pieces that are extra long for trimming after assembly.

I hope this is helpful to someone.

Judging from other threads, 'tis the season for walnut tool cabinets! :)

Charlie MacGregor
08-03-2012, 2:12 AM
Looks outstanding Bob. Was the clamping problematic?

Bob Jones
08-03-2012, 10:21 AM
It would have been a problem if I tried :) I used liquid hide glue with a rub joint. Not clamp required, just a little faith. The strength seems fine.

Andrew Pitonyak
08-03-2012, 10:56 AM
Very nice.... Lots of hard work there!

Rodney Walker
08-03-2012, 5:11 PM
Should look really good when you're done.
Allow plenty of room for wood movement. Wood moves across the grain and either moves very little or not at all with the grain. The effect on your cabinet will be a significant amount of movement in a diagonal roughly from corner to corner across the grain due to there being a wide area of cross grain on your panels and roughly 0 movement in the other direction. In a stable environment it may not be an issue, in an area with large changes in temp and humidity it could be.

Harlan Barnhart
08-04-2012, 12:05 PM
Bob, one thing you might want to consider is the direction each piece will plane without tear out. If you glue up panels that need to be planned in opposing directions, you are making more work for yourself.

Tony Shea
08-04-2012, 5:38 PM
Bob your design has really come together. I am not a religious person at all but really like how you've planned this cabinet's doors out. And the cherry/walnut combo really looks nice. This is a wood combination I have yet to try but have been meaning to for years. Seems like these two species of wood are what I have the most of on hand at all times but seem to never incorporate them together. Nice to see that it does work.

Rodney beat me to the advise I planned to give after reading the entire thread, and am actually surprised it was never brought up. I do hope you planned out the wood movement differently than a normal frame and panel design. Typically the sides are where you leave your room for expansions as im sure your aware of. But this design may be a bit tricky to leave room for expansion.

Bob Jones
08-11-2012, 11:05 PM
I figure it is a good time for an update. I cleaned up the doors just enough to see what it will look like. See below. I also ordered hinges and a casement fastener for the front. I ordered this one, because I think it will work and it should look good.


I like the look of the hook and the fast that it "pierces" the other piece, I think it fits. Do you think it will keep the doors closed?????

Bob Jones
08-11-2012, 11:11 PM
Ive also been refining my tool layout plan. I'm grouping tools by task, so that I'm not moving things around much. I'm pretty well set on the bench planes, chisels and markeing tools, and joinery planes and saws. I'm less certain about the "shaping tools" door. That may get switched or re-orged. Take a look ---

I'm planning to add an internal door that hinges on the center. That will have tools for fastening (hammer, screwdrivers, such) on one side and not sure about the other side. I can't wait to get this finished!

Jim Neeley
08-11-2012, 11:41 PM
Looking awesome, Bob!!

Jessica Pierce-LaRose
08-12-2012, 9:05 AM
Looking great, Bob. I hope mine comes out looking a quarter as nice.

Keep us posted on the catch - it looks like an interesting piece of hardware.

Pat Barry
08-12-2012, 5:41 PM
Hi Bob, You may be slow (so you say) but you do beautiful work. I love the way the door panels turned out. That took creativity and imagination. Very well done.

Bob Jones
08-12-2012, 8:20 PM
Thanks for all the kind words. It is coming together now.

Bob Jones
08-27-2012, 12:06 AM
Thought an update was in order. I put the back on it this weekend. I opted for a solid cherry back to match the rest. I didn't like my options with plywood. I used a lot of screws. My strategy was to put screws mostly in the 3 vertical boards of the case. The screws in these vertical boards were put into normally sized holes. The screws that attached to the horizontal (top & bottom) pieces were put into elongated holes. I left a 1/16" gap between the boards. I used mostly "quarter sawn" boards for the back. I assembled in a high-humidity time of year. I hope these 4 things accommodate for all the movement it will see. We will see :)

Bob Jones
08-27-2012, 12:09 AM
Here are some more pictures of the joinery that I used on the doors and case. The doors are sitting on top of the case and it is all flat on my assembly bench. I just planed everything to fit as close as I am capable of.

Bob Jones
08-27-2012, 12:13 AM
Last pics of the night. More closeup shots of the doors and case work. I have to admit, I am really waiting on a big screw-up to ruin it all... :)

Next up, a door that will cover the inside left section, covering the bench planes. I will hinge it on the center divider. I will then install hinges on all three doors. That should be fun :) Once that is done I will apply finish, hang on the wall, and start putting in the pieces to actually hold tools.