View Full Version : Project: Cherry Vanities for Master Bath (COMPLETED)

Jim Becker
04-22-2007, 11:02 PM
Not long ago, I "completed" (pending a few finishing adjustments) a cherry vanity (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=45792) for the guest bath in our greatly anticipated home addition (http://toscax.us/blog/addition.htm). ('just waiting on permitting to get started!) In addition to its intended function for the guest bath, that vanity also served as the prototype/lessons learned project for two more matching vanities that will go in the new master suite bath. I also made a recent trip to Hearne Hardwoods (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=55212) to pick up material for the corner posts/legs and other solid-stock components.

This thread will document the construction of the two matching cherry vanities for the MSB. In the interest of SMC storage, there are some tasks that I have not documented "thoroughly", such as breaking down sheets of plywood... ;)

In general, I liked how the first piece went together. Using pocket screws make a big difference in assembly time and the furniture look really works for me. What I'm not duplicating for these additional pieces is the extra work I did to notch out the corner posts, etc...fun and educational, but unnecessary steps after rethinking things. This time, I'm building a box carcass (in the same way my cabinetmaker neighbor does for his custom work, although he doesn't use pocket screws) and applying the ends. I'm also pre-finishing the interior components prior to assembly as I did for all my kitchen cabinets back in 2003. Spraying flat is much pleasanter than spraying into a box! These cabinets will also be a foot wider than the guest bath unit...more storage and more counter space. Nice!

This project got started by breaking down the 8/4 stock I picked up at Hearne for the corner posts/legs at the miter station. This is QS/rift stock. By knocking the boards down to slightly oversize lengths, I can quickly process the material further at the jointer/planer and table saw without wasting time, physical work and wood.


Each of the pieces cut from the original board is then flattened on the jointer and thicknessed on the planer.

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A reference edge is ripped using the slider to align the grain as well as remove some sapwood along one edge and then the corner posts/legs are ripped along the fence. Not shown is returning to the planer to fully dimension them to 1 7/8" which is the intended size for this application.

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Jim Becker
04-22-2007, 11:09 PM
As in the previous project, nearly all of the layout work is done right on the material or on representative samples of the material. Here, a slice off the leg stock is used to calculate the reveals as well as serve as a component in a quick mock-up on the bench for the corner post/leg to carcass joinery and cutting.

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At that point, it was time to start cutting material for the "inner carcass". For this project, I chose 18mm (~3/4") Baltic Birch plywood. The cost was right from a local source and the 60" square size easier to manipulate (read: lift!) than typical 4' x 8' sheet goods. I have to say...I will continue to use this stuff...wow. Nice. Here, I'm getting a clean edge prior to insuring my setup is square. From there, I cut up two sheets of material to get the components I needed...shown in the second photo.

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As mentioned before, I'm not going to notch the corner posts/legs; rather I'm notching the BB ply carcass bottom. Here, I'm marking for the cut using a piece from my earlier mock-up.


Jim Becker
04-22-2007, 11:26 PM
After marking, I setup to cut the notches at the band saw and proceeded to complete the task. A material support stand is used to help balance the 4' wide piece for both cuts. I should point out that I'm "production cutting" components for two units...it speeds things up. (Of course, it also means that I could make the same mistake on two units...:rolleyes:) Sorry about the blue in the background...I chose to color correct for the interior and that screwed up the sunlight...

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The next step was to deal with the pocket screws. Using this assembly method is much faster than pre-drilling/countersinking and screwing up through the bottom and when combined with glue, it's just as strong, IMHO. And you have to love butt-joints for simplicity. :p


Each of the BB ply components then got a quick run-over with the ROS and some "used" 150 grit abrasive...the aim is just to smooth things out and remove any dirt and pencil marks in preparation for pre-finishing.


Each base has two areas that need to be devoid of finish for gluing...some painter's tape takes care of things.


Jim Becker
04-22-2007, 11:36 PM
The edges of the material are masked for the same reason...glue will be used to build the structural strength.


When all this is done, all the components are ready for pre-finishing.


Given it was the first 80º and sunny day of the season (after a very long cold spell as well as about 5" of rain last weekend), I decided to spray the components outside of the shop. (That also meant I could continue working on other things during that time period)


I only had time for two coats of Target Coatings USL today (we had a foot of water in the basement this morning when the nearly new sump pump failed...so no hot water warranted a trip to the YMCA for swimming and a shower before a family meal out. Golly, I hope that I don't lose another $1000 hot water system in less than a year! :mad:) Here's the result...and I'll put one more coat on sometime between now and next weekend if I get the time.


To close out the first installment of this project, we return to the shop to cut the "show" end panels from some cherry veneer MDF core sheet stock that I found with the rift grain I wanted. I already ripped an 18 1/2" wide strip from the VERY heavy 4' x 8' sheet (and have a nice bruise on my arm to prove it...) and am prepared to cross cut the panels in this shot. Notice that this is a "close quarters" operation. With the Euro guard on the J/P flipped back, this 8' section has plenty of clearance. Of course, for ME to get to the other side to make the cut, I have to either duct under the material or walk outside and come back in through a door at that end...:p...it's good to have choices! :D


Corey Hallagan
04-22-2007, 11:56 PM
Looking good Jim. Looks like you are making steady progress on that. Hope you get the pump working! Looking forward to more on this project!


Don Bullock
04-23-2007, 8:00 AM
Jim. that's another of your excellent, step-by-step lessons for us. I especially like to read them because they give me good ideas on approaching my projects. Now, if I can find the time to get going on them.

...we had a foot of water in the basement this morning when the nearly new sump pump failed...so no hot water warranted a trip to the YMCA for swimming and a shower before a family meal out. Golly, I hope that I don't lose another $1000 hot water system in less than a year! :mad:) ...

I'd be mad too! Especially if I had all that expensive metal equipment sitting in all that water. I sure hope it all OK.

Jason Tuinstra
04-23-2007, 9:48 PM
Glad to see we have another Becker tutorial in the works. Great work so far. I'm looking to see how it develops.

Dennis Peacock
04-23-2007, 10:00 PM
Looks really good so far Jim.!!!! :D

Now that the finish is drying, you need to break out that geetar of yours, tune it up and play us a song or two. :p :D

Neil Lamens
04-24-2007, 5:39 AM
Hi jim:

Gett'in er done!!!!

How did you like your new saw???? Did it perform as you expected???? Did you notice an odd feeling between, cutting panel and solid material.

I liked your comment on........spraying outside so you could continue the build inside???? Work'in that efficiency angle!!!!


Eugene A. Manzo III
04-24-2007, 10:06 AM
Thank you for sharing your shop and your steps. My God I'm going to see if my wife will sell her car so we can get so machines like Jim Becker has:D

Matt Meiser
04-24-2007, 11:24 AM
Can't wait for the rest of this as master bath cabinetry is on my list of projects.

Charles Jackson III
04-24-2007, 4:59 PM
Very nice work.

Jim Becker
05-12-2007, 10:05 PM
After being away on vacation (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=57756) last weekend and having little time in the shop the previous one, I managed to get most of the day today in the shop since I mowed the lawn (more field-like at the time) on Thursday evening. So it was back to the two vanities I started a few weeks ago.

I thought I took pictures when I assembled the basic carcasses, but alas, they are not to be found. So today's installment begins with fitting the corner posts to those assemblies. Everything was pretty much where it needed to be outside of a little minor sanding on two corner notches to bring the legs in flush.


During all of today's work, I employed just a couple pocket screws to hold the corner posts in place on both carcasses. They will be removed for finishing and go back on with glue and all of the intended screws later on.


As with the first vanity for the guest bath, the bottoms of the corner posts/legs get tapered...this is performed at the table saw using a simple sled. Only the first one had to be "measured"...all of the subsequent ones were just marked with a quick swipe of a pencil to indicate which faces needed trimmed. This marking was done with the posts fitted and temporarily fastened to the carcasses to avoid any mistakes.


Each vanity will have one visible end, so an overlay panel of QS cherry veneer MDF core will be inserted between the corner posts. These thicknesses were taken into account when I first mocked up the corner so that appropriate reveals were maintained. Both panels did need a "skosh" removed from the top which was done at the table saw after marking.


Once the visible end panels were at final size and fit, I measured for screw placement. These screws will be hidden by a thin overlay piece that simulates rails. But they also needed to be placed so that they would engage the cabinet bottom for some additional strength.


Jim Becker
05-12-2007, 10:05 PM
Here, I'm pre-drilling for screws to hold that end panel. There are similar holes placed at the very top of the cabinet.


I mentioned previously that some thin overlays would be used to simulate rails...here I bring them to exact length to fit between the corner posts and onto the end panels.


You can see here what the end panels will look like when finished...these are pretty much the same in appearance as on the first vanity.


I really liked the gentle radius on the bottom rail on the first vanity and continue with that theme on these pieces. The curve was cut on the band saw and then cleaned up on the Oscillating Spindle Sander and with some additional hand-work at the bench.


Toward the end of the day, I milled some wider stock that will be used for the top rail (and top drawer fronts) of these vanities. Like other components, they were fitted to the cabinet by exact measurement...you can see them clamped in place. There will be components added to provide additional support for the drawers, etc., before this area is completed. You can also see the "hidden" ends of both cabinets. There is a 3" wide face that is situated behind the front corner post that will hold the whole cabinet away from the wall so it retains the "furniture" look, but avoids a nasty narrow area that will be hard to paint and clean over time. I was not going to do this originally, but my GC "strongly" suggested it for practical reasons. I came to believe that this was a good suggestion. There are also a few other blocks of scrap ply in place to provide additional stiffness and support for the corner posts in the hidden areas.


Joe Unni
05-12-2007, 10:44 PM

This is very cool! It's pretty neat to see someone's process and project unfold. I only wish I had the patience to set up the shots the way you do.

Looking forward to the final product.


Dave Shively
05-13-2007, 8:35 AM

As Don said too, I like your "step-by-step lessons" you give with your projects.
It is so informative. Look forword to the finished project.


Dave Ray
05-13-2007, 11:16 AM
Looking good Jim. Like the others I like the step by step presentation. It's like being in your shop looking over your shoulder while you work.

Jim Becker
05-13-2007, 10:26 PM
I spent quite a bit of time doing some landscaping work today, but did get in the shop for a couple hours at the end of the day. Over night, I made the decision to do an off-set sink arrangement that will allow the two doors with cherry crotch panels to remain together while also providing several additional drawers for storage of "bathroom necessities" in each vanity. So the first operation today was to create a story stick that would allow me to mirror each vanity for the intended design...including location of a partition between the "cabinet" and the drawer area.


In the spirit of taking actual measurements, a piece of scrap BB ply is used to document the thickness of the partition on the story stick.


Once the story stick is marked, I began to transfer the markings to both carcasses...with them back to back on the bench, I only had to keep the stick in the same orientation to effect the mirrored design.


Since I pre-finished the plywood carcass interior components before "finalizing" the design, after scribing the line for the partition, I masked the area off and carefully sanded off the finish to allow for at least a little glue absorption...but screws will provide a lot of strength even without glue.


The top of these vanities will, like the previous smaller unit, feature a wide cherry surface that has drawer fronts cut out for contiguous grain. Here, I rip off the top rail that will be fixed to the carcass just under the counter edge.


Jim Becker
05-13-2007, 10:26 PM
The story stick is also used to transfer locations to the top rails...here, I've clamped the boards, allowing room for the thin story stick to slide in against the lumber.


After measuring for height on both carcasses with yet another stick (to take into consideration minor variations in construction), I cut the partition panels from BB ply.


Each partition was slipped into its corresponding vanity construction to check the fit...both required a tiny bit to be shaved off back at the table saw which is an easy operation.


Since these partitions will be visible when the drawers/doors are open, they get an edging of cherry. Glue is all that is needed and painter's tape provides the "clamping". Once the glue is dry, the edging will be brought to the same thickness as the plywood with a block plane and sandpaper. Umm...the bench was busy, so the floor had to do for this job...so much for my knees!


Just so you can visualize...in general...what the vanities will look like from the front, here's a quick illustration. This is the left vanity...the right mirrors this arrangement.


Jim Becker
07-22-2007, 10:19 PM
Given we are ACTUALLY GOING TO BREAK GROUND this week on the addition (shouting intended...:p) I was quite pleased to get back in the shop today and do some more work on these vanities. With my recent business travel to Asia and various family functions and other activities, it's been awhile...

The work I did today doesn't seem too extraordinary in quantity, but these are 2 significant steps. The first was building the internal structure to hold the two top drawers that are centered below the top-mounted bowl. Completion of this step meant I could check my measurements and proceed with the drawer box order (I'm contracting that to save time) as well as begin what I'll call "final assembly"...the second step started today.

In this shot, early in the process of step one, I'm clamping a vertical panel that will provide support to the drawer slides as well as isolate the waste and water connections from the drawers. Spacer blocks are used to insure that these compartments are the exact width the need to be (12 13/16" in this case for 11 3/4" wide drawer boxes) before fastening in place with screws and a little glue.


Once the vertical panels were installed, a "face" was measured for and put in place to keep things square as well as hide the piping when the drawers are open...on this vanity, unlike the smaller unit in for the guest bath, the solid cherry drawer fronts will overhang the center area a hair more than 2 1/2" so that the "seams" between all three drawers seem uniform. That's also the reason for the dye stain...these components will not be visible when the drawers are closed but will be partially exposed when said drawers are open. A little shellac will get the final color close to the cherry (slightly darker, actually, than the cherry will be initially) and make things blend. I chose to do this rather than building the interior components from solid stock or facing them with veneers...less work this way and again, rarely seen and in the shadows.


The second vanity went much faster since by then I had the "technique" down pat!


For the second important step, the solid stock components that had been lightly held with minimal screws were removed and sanded in preparation for finishing. Areas that will need glue adhesion have been masked so that there will be no finish to interfere with the "stick". In a few more weekends, I should have both vanities major structures completed and finished...and then I can deal with the doors. That will entail my first serious efforts at veneering panels. Oh, joy...:o

Don Bullock
07-23-2007, 9:31 AM
Jim, CONGRATULATIONS on your pending ground breaking for your addition. That sounds fantastic. Your vanities are looking great.

Jim Becker
07-28-2007, 6:42 PM
After a fun filled "family excursion" to Wegmans this morning (about the best supermarket known to man...), I got out to the shop for more work on the master bath vanities. Given we are truly breaking ground on Monday morning for the addition (weather permitting), it's really time to move this project along as I have a lot of other pieces to build, too.

Today continued the work I started last weekend relative to getting the cherry components ready for finishing and actually starting said finishing. Of course, the first step is always finish sanding, and I try to insure that I don't miss anything during that step.


Once I was through all the sanding, I took a few minutes to prepare materials for the "hidden skirt" that will bring the base down to floor level, but set back from the edge of the cabinet. This preserves the "furniture" look of the vanities while insuring that the plumbing is hidden and that there isn't a difficult to clean area under the units. Using a small square, I mark off the location for some cleats that will hold the skirt to the carcass.


The cleat is then fastened with a little glue and brads to tack it in place and a few screws for good measure. Access is easy with the cabinets tipped on their backs.


The skirts, made from 1/2" BB ply, are fastened with glue and a few brads. The corner return is mitered and kept together with glue and brads. A reinforcing cleat is also installed behind the joint for more strength.


The skirt will be painted black and to make for a smooth surface, a quick coat of dewaxed shellac primes it after some brief sanding by hand.


Jim Becker
07-28-2007, 6:42 PM
The skirts are quickly painted black with a spray bomb. While they are set back from the front of the cabinet about 4", this will help to insure they "disappear" when viewed from an oblique angle when one walks into the room.


With the skirts out of the way, each of the cherry components get a thin application of BLO. I originally thought I would be able to skip this step given the Target Coatings waterborne hybrid alkyd varnish I intend to spray on this project, but my tests on scrap project material last weekend didn't provide a warm enough color to my liking. So I'll still do the BLO and a quick sealer of de-waxed shellac before moving to the WB varnish. Here, I'm wiping the oil onto one of the end-panels. The masked area is where the 1/4" cherry overlays will be fastened with glue after the end panel is screwed to the carcass.


I just love the look of the cherry after the oil...


Next steps include spraying the shellac and WB varnish on the components and then final assembly of the carcasses so I can get them off the bench. That needs to happen so I can proceed with the cabinet doors...and some novice veneering fun. :o

Don Bullock
07-28-2007, 7:47 PM
Your project is coming along nicely Jim. That cherry sure does look good after the BLO is applied.

I took your advice (and that of some others) and used BLO on my cherry table. I'm very glad that I did. It really brought out the color of the wood and the grain.

Jim Becker
08-12-2007, 9:09 PM
After a week in Munich, it was very nice to be back in the shop today working on the vanities. The oil that I had applied to the "show" components had cured very nicely while I was away and it's nice to see that the cherry is really going to look nice when this project is complete.

Today was reassembly day...all of the so-called "show" components were added back to the carcasses--this time with glue in addition to the screws. I did one vanity at a time so I could use the full bench and before starting, I lowered the top all the way for comfort. (I have a Noden Adjust-A-Bench for just this flexibility)

Reassembly started with re-installation of the three show legs. When I oiled the components, I masked off the areas that would see glue. (The oil did have an added benefit in that any squeeze out was oh-so-easy to remove)


Next, the top rail was attached with glue, a few brads at the very top where they would be hidden by the counter tops and a pocket screw to fuse them to the legs on the sides. The first unit I did upright like this, but those screws were darn uncomfortable to get to. On the second unit, I attached this component after turning the whole thing over...you learn as you go, sometimes!


The same technique was used for the bottom rail. I originally intended to use pocket screws for the width of this component, but I, um...forgot that...and put the false bottom pieces on, making it impossible to get even a stubby manual driver in place. The glue, three brads and the two pocket screws into the legs took care of things


Next, the end panel on the visible side was attached using a few screws. These will be hidden by the 1/4" stock overlays that simulate the frame and panel look in the design.


Speaking of the overlays, a single line of glue down the middle will mate the overlay permanently without causing any movement issues...that and a few pins that you'll see in the next post are all that is needed for this decorative piece.


Jim Becker
08-12-2007, 9:09 PM
As mentioned, a few 23 gage pins completed the attachment of the overlay pieces. (Note that the piece is not dark like in this picture...the light from the flash must have reflected funny)


Here's the first unit all back together. If you followed the previous project for the smaller unit that will be in the guest bath, you'll note the similarity in design.


The visible end panels look like this when completed...I'm very pleased with these!


At the end of the day, both units were off the bench...which is good as the next steps include building the four cabinet doors and that will entail my first foray into vacuum veneering panels. I assembled all the stuff I got from Joe Woodworker (http://joewoodworker.com/) and will start practice veneering at the earliest opportunity!


Matt Meiser
08-13-2007, 7:56 AM
Coming along nicely! Are these getting bowl-style sinks that sit on top of the counter? I realized that I don't see a space for the sink bowl to drop down inside.

Jim Becker
08-13-2007, 8:22 AM
Coming along nicely! Are these getting bowl-style sinks that sit on top of the counter? I realized that I don't see a space for the sink bowl to drop down inside.

Yes. Top of counter bowls all around.

Alan Tolchinsky
08-13-2007, 9:05 AM
Jim, Those look great! I love the cherry finish; you brought out the best of the wood. One question: What did you use to finish the interior? I may have missed it but I like the way it came out nice and light.

Jim Becker
08-13-2007, 10:03 AM
Jim, Those look great! I love the cherry finish; you brought out the best of the wood. One question: What did you use to finish the interior? I may have missed it but I like the way it came out nice and light.

Alan, the interior components were sprayed with Target USL prior to assembly. The "show" components only have oil on them at present...I want to do the top coating of everything all at once and leaving things just at oil also means the vanities remain "repairable" should I, umm...make a boo-boo...while moving them around in the shop.

I was pretty careful at choosing the material for these units. It raised the cost a bit, but the first step in finishing is always picking the right material. If I don't find enough QS/rift left in the rack to do the doors as I plan them, I'll be making another "acquisition" run to the candy store...err...Hearne Hardwoods.

Alan Tolchinsky
08-13-2007, 6:27 PM
Jim, Spraying sounds like a great way to apply finish and prefinishing is the way to go if you can swing it. Can't wait to see the final install on this project. Thanks for sharing with all the pics. Alan

Jim Becker
08-19-2007, 10:36 PM
It was back in the shop today to work on the vanities. Since the carcasses are, for all practical purposes, done, (outside of fitting drawer boxes when they arrive) it was time to move on to the cabinet doors.

You may remember that for the guest bath vanity (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=45792) I bravely re-sawed a cherry crotch for the door panels. 'Not going to happen for these vanities! :o It's very hard to find an un-cracked crotch big enough for this purpose (I only found one more) and it's way too easy to make a costly mistake, too. For these doors, I'm jumping into the wonderful world of vacuum veneering.

I already have a Gast vacuum pump that sits under Stubbalina (my lathe), so I ordered up some plumbing and a bag from Joe Woodworker (http://www.joewoodworker.com) awhile back. It's actually a pretty simple setup...some hose and a few fittings, a vacuum gage, and "the bag". I opted for the better quality bag as I sensed I might enjoy this kind of thing and for the price difference, I would have peace of mind that the bag would last a long time. I bought one extra length of hose to extend over from the lathe to the workbench and picked up a few fittings at the 'borg to allow quick connection of my extension to the line from the pump. Now, all that stuff isn't enough, so I spent a few minutes preparing some important components from MDF before getting started with the actual veneering.

When you do this work, you don't just stick a thin panel into the bag and have-at-it. You need platens to spread the clamping force and they need to be constructed such that they also allow for the vacuum pump to remove air from around the clamped object du jour. So to get started, I cut up a piece of 3/4" MDF to match the rough size of the panels I would be working with...15" x 12".


While I was cutting, I also sized a number of panel blanks...including extras in case I, umm...made mistakes...

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Because I was curious, I slipped a few into the bag, sealed things up and sucked the air out just for grins. :) Worked like a champ!


Now, the platens are not at their best when they are just flat sheets...there needs to be some channels for air to move toward the vacuum port on the bag. A few minutes at the table saw produced the necessary effect.


Jim Becker
08-19-2007, 10:36 PM
The platens, one scored, had their edges eased to protect the bag, and this is the end result.


A quick test using the newly configured platens insured I would know what to expect once I started actually using the bag as a clamp.


Speaking of the veneer, I finally opened the package that I received months ago from Rosebud Veneer (http://www.rosebudveneer.com/)...very nice! 'Just what I wanted for these panels.


The first step with the veneer, itself, was to establish exactly what the field would be using the first flitch and one of the pieces of 1/4" MDF substrate. I wanted the feather figure to present in a certain way as well as enhancing the book-match effect between the mated doors.


After establishing the position of the panel on the first flitch, I cut out the rectangle marked with the substrate in the previous step using a veneer saw (and frankly, a razor sharp knife).


Jim Becker
08-19-2007, 10:36 PM
The piece from the first panel was used to mark the next and subsequent panels so that the book matching would be visually the same across all four doors on the two vanities.


Once all the crotch veneer pieces were prepared, I also cut out some backers from "ordinary" cherry veneer to be on the backside of each panel. At that point it was time to try my hand at veneering. Now, I had originally planned to do a "practice run" with some odds-and-ends veneer. Well, I just plain decided to "go for it" since I have plenty of the crotch veneer should terrible things happen. So it was time to get out the cold press glue and start spreading it...


According to Joe Woodworker's instructions, the cold press glue should be spread not unlike a heavy coat of paint...like this...


Here's the first two panels, glued and in the vacuum bag.


About an hour and a half later, after some lunch and a forum break :p , it was time to see if I screwed up or scored. I'm happy to report..."scored" is the result!


Jim Becker
08-19-2007, 10:37 PM
The second set of panels were then glued up, assembled and clamped.


In the mean time, I got started with preparing the material for the doors' rails and stiles. Some more of the QS cherry stock was pulled off the pile (all the remaining QS stock, in fact) and I marked out the rough cuts, keeping track of the relationship for each component/board so that there would be matched sets across the two vanities.


These were quickly cut down at the miter saw so that they were ready to mill flat and to thickness.


No pictures of jointing and thicknessing...you've seen that before...but here is the end result:


The next step was to straight-line each component so that I would have the grain/figure oriented the way I wanted for each component. I did no edge jointing...straight-line cutting on the slider is cleaner and finish sanding ready.


Jim Becker
08-19-2007, 10:37 PM
The next step was to rip the components to 3" width. Yes, I could have done this with the rip fence, but I wanted to both take my time and also try out my new ripping jig for the slider. Setup took a little more effort, but the end result was once again a finish-sanding ready edge with no further involvement of the jointer.


A few minutes later, I had a pile of rails and stiles precisely 3" wide and ready for cutting to length on the miter at the table saw.


Which I did a few minutes later. Now far be it for me to let you think everything was perfect...not! The very first stile was cut 2" too short due to a mental error when setting the stop on the miter fence. i screwed up. Said bad words and all that... :o ...and then I took the one remaining piece of appropriate material I had left and made another stile which will fortunately work appearance-wise. Fortunately. Otherwise, it would have been a very expensive mistake...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch :D ...all four panels were done in the clamping, so I laid them out on the bench in order. Very nice! (Sorry I didn't hit them with MS or alcohol to pop the figure, but I didn't want to mess with the uncured glue at that point)


I did take a moment to measure the panel thickness as this will be needed to cut the grooves in the rails and stiles to capture the panels during final assembly. 0.3" was the result.


Given that the glue would need more time to fully cure, I piled all four panels up and put a little weight on them just for good measure. This is how they will stay for a few days.


Jim Becker
08-19-2007, 10:37 PM
At the end of the day, I had four veneered door panels and the necessary rails and stiles for all four doors. Very productive...now all I need is the time to cut the grooves for the panels and get them assembled. (I will be partially finishing the panels before assembly, too)


Don Bullock
08-19-2007, 11:36 PM
At the end of the day, I had four veneered door panels and the necessary rails and stiles for all four doors. Very productive......

Wow, that was a productive day. I'll be very interested in seeing how your doors came out. I've never attempted any veneering, but am interested in learning more about it.

Alan Tolchinsky
08-19-2007, 11:51 PM
Hi Jim, That was a very productive day! Thanks for the pics. I did some veneering a few months ago before my move. The Joe Woodworking site is so informative. One note on plattens: I used melamine for mine and cut grooves in them just like you did. Sometimes the glue can seep throught the veneer and stick to the platten and the melamine makes it easy to just pop it off the platten.

Neil Lamens
08-20-2007, 8:36 AM
Hi Jim:

That's an excellent tutorial you put together. The approach on using your platens specific to small panels shows excellent efficiencies. Staying with Allan's meleamine, a pc of wax paper between works fine too, still alot of life in those platens.

Like the "go for it" attitude..........it's just not that hard.

Really good Jim..........Neil

Jim Becker
08-20-2007, 10:34 AM
Thanks for the advice on the Melamine and waxed paper. I'll keep that in mind for future projects!

And yes, I felt it was worth just "going for it" for two reasons: 1) if I screwed up I could recover reasonably since I had extra materials and 2) it would truly illustrate how easy this can be, at least for flat panels.

Jim Becker
09-04-2007, 9:22 PM
Now that I have the family vacation out of the way :p ...I was able to get back in the shop to work on the master bath vanities. With the addition in framing, I'm starting to feel the need to move things along as I have more pieces to do after these are done. And that list got longer today as some of the bookshelves in the existing loft library of our great room will have to be replaced sooner than expected due to the field conditions for tying the old and new structures together.

The focus is now on the doors and drawers so the first thing was to get the pocket holes drilled in the door rails.


After measuring the thickness of my veneered panels, I determined that I could use my Forrest stacked dado setup to cut the grooves in the rails and stiles and that the blade arrangement would just fit through the opening in my saw's factory insert. (I have not got around to buying some phenolic to make a special dado insert yet...) The two outer blades with the "really thin" chipper sandwiched between them gave me just a hair over the .30" I needed to accommodate the panels. Of course, a test cut is always required for this kind of thing...


And confirmed with the actual panel to be a proper fit...


I rarely use the rip fence these days, but it was the right way to do this operation. For the stiles, a stopped groove was required, so I marked the fence for entry and exit before processing the 8 door stiles.


This is the result...yes a little burning inside the groove 'cause this is a "do it slow and careful operation" but it will never be seen.


Jim Becker
09-04-2007, 9:22 PM
In a reasonably short time, I had all the rails and stiles grooved and ready for later assembly. But I took my time as these components are all carefully grain and color matched with specific positions in the four doors for symmetry and a screwup would really not be something "happy"...;)


Because I'm using pocket screws for assembly, I temporarily put together one door so I could measure exactly for the panels' final trim dimensions.


And a test panel was cut from MDF to insure that the size was exactly what I wanted.


For best presentation, the "center axis" of the veneered panel was marked and then the piece was measured and marked for trimming at the saw.


Everything keys of that first edge that gets trimmed, so being accurate is important. It would be a shame to mess up even one panel as that would require a bunch of work to make new as well as mess up the book matching of the flitches used for the panels. With the sliding table saw, I was able to easily position that first cut and then clamp down the material for accuracy. In addition, I used the scoring blade to avoid tear-out on the bottom veneer.


Jim Becker
09-04-2007, 9:22 PM
After rotating the first edge cut to the miter fence, the piece was clamped and cut for length. On all of the panels, this first "length" cut was slightly oversize so that the final cut later would insure a perfectly rectangular workpiece.


The first panel that was trimmed was confirmed to be a good fit...so I could move on to the other three, being really careful when setting the stops.


Here are all four panels after final trimming to size.


The next step was to sand the panels, front and back. Because these are thin veneers, I only used 180 to bring things smooth and was very careful when sanding near the edges. The sanding essentially removed any knife marks from when the veneers were sliced and smoothed any roughness.


And then it was time to oil the panels...they need to be partially finished before the doors are assembled for best results.


Jim Becker
09-04-2007, 9:22 PM
Since it was a nice, bright, sunny day, I figured a little UV wouldn't be a bad thing while the oil was soaking in. The panels already look wonderful!


With the doors as far as I could go for the day, it was time to move on to the drawer boxes. As I did with my kitchen project back in 2003, I opted to purchase my drawer boxes for this particular project to save milling time. Yes, making dovetailed boxes isn't a hard thing, but this way I could move right to assembly...a nice thing given all the additional work I need to do over the next few months.

As with my kitchen project, I contracted with Keystone Wood Specialties to provide milled drawer boxes to my exact dimensions and shipped knocked down for assembly here. It should be noted that this supplier doesn't do retail and only caters to pro shops or those who are willing to be persistent and give a reference or other proof they are not homeowners trying to buy wholesale to save a buck. It took me a week to convince them to sell to me back in 2003. This time around, they just asked for my credit card number...:o

As with the kitchen, I chose maple sides and backs with maple ply for the bottoms. The total of 14 drawers (12 for the MB vanities and 2 for the previously completed guest bath vanity) came knocked down in two sturdy boxes with "custom fitted" foam protection.

71244 71245 71246

The components, themselves, were held snugly together with strong stretch wrap to keep them from getting knocked around during shipment.


Jim Becker
09-04-2007, 9:22 PM
The first thing I did was sort and stack everything to insure I had everything I ordered and to best utilize the components for looks, etc.


Sanding the inside of a box is no fun, so I pre-sanded the interior sides of pieces as well as the bottoms pre-assembly.


Assembling dovetailed boxes isn't rocket science...a little glue brushed into the corners, slide them together and...measure for square!


And to insure they stay that way while the glue dries, a couple of brads to engage the bottom will suffice. (I seem to remember his Normness doing that a lot of that kind of thing early in his NYW career... :D )


Once the glue sets, the drawers need sanding to level the dovetails. These are the first two...the two for the guest vanity that replace the "experimental" ones I created months ago but was not very happy with. These are sized to use slides for smoother operation...something nice in a bathroom.


Jim Becker
09-04-2007, 9:22 PM
You'll note from the color change in my shirt that it's the next day already... :D

And that next day brought more drawer sanding...12 drawers worth, in fact.


But in the end, I had 12 drawers ready for slides. I am frankly leaving them unfinished. They look great as they are.


Installing drawer slides is pretty basic, but "jigging up" can help the task considerably. Each of these vanities have a stack of four drawers that is on the side closest to the side walls in the installation location. (mirrored vanities) The top drawer location is pretty much determined by the other two that are in the same horizontal plane. But the three below that top drawer need to be equally spaced vertically (approximately, at least). To make this easy, once I installed the bottom slides, I made up a jig out of some scrap MDF that could be used to vertically space the next set up from the one below it. The relief cuts are to allow for those areas on the slides that are above or below the general plane of the unit.


As I mentioned installation is pretty straight forward and what took a little longer on the first vanity, due to all the measuring and jig making etc., went fairly quickly on the second one.


At the end of the day, this is pretty much the result...all the drawer slides mounted and tested...ready for completion of the drawer fronts in parallel with the doors. I'll be moving in that direction tomorrow, hopefully, after a few things I need to do around the house. (on vacation this week)


Don Bullock
09-04-2007, 10:38 PM
The panels already look wonderful!



Wow!!! That's an understatement. Those are beautiful.:eek:

Your project seems to be really coming along now. Thanks for all the detail. I'm finding your narrative very interesting and helpful. I may have to do something like what you're doing in the future.

Dave MacArthur
09-04-2007, 11:07 PM
Great! I really enjoyed the step by step post--that takes a lot of time for you to create, but it is exactly the thing folks can find a tip here or there in. The panels look nice, and I enjoyed getting a look at the fabled slider!Thanks much!

Jim Becker
09-13-2007, 3:11 PM
US Labor Day week I was still on vacation, but rather than traipsing round up north in Quebec like the week before, I spent a lot of time in the shop working on the master bath vanities that are the object of this thread. That was good as it kept me moving on the project (more things to do when these are done) and I was able to watch the framers take piles of lumber and turn them into our home addition (http://toscax.us/blog/addition.htm).

This sequence starts with making those critical cuts in the single board that makes up the top three drawer fronts in the vanities. Very scary and definitely a "measure three times, cut once" situation, at least for the one that is directly over the stack of three more drawers...


Once the drawer fronts were cut apart, they were attached to the drawer boxes with screws. I found this to be a little more frustrating than normal as the drawer slides "move" a little and getting things lined up just so was a pain. (I do have a few extra holes in two of the drawer boxes because of this, but no issue to fill...and they are out of sight)


Here's the first vanity with all three of the top drawers "done", as it were...


And the second...


Due to the need for plumbing to get to the top of the vanity for the above counter "bowls", the inner drawers that surround them are narrower. But the drawer fronts are continuous. Here's how that works out...and the break between them mirrors the break between the two doors that will live below.


Jim Becker
09-13-2007, 3:11 PM
Each vanity has three more drawers that need fronts, so I poked through the lumber rack and found the two boards I had reserved. I'll not go into detail about preparing lumber outside of showing a picture of straight-lining one of the boards. After that, it was jointed flat and then thicknessed normally.


The milled components were then brought back to the saw and cut to full width.


The point of this was to initially make the stack of three drawer fronts exactly equal in height to the door stiles which was checked at the bench.


Next, I used the same shims I would be used in fitting the drawer fronts (some plastic laminate) to trim the edges at the saw with the exact same setup.


Back to the bench and the sum of the drawer fronts plus the shims still equals the height of the stile.


Jim Becker
09-13-2007, 3:11 PM
To this point, these six drawer fronts were left a little long. So the final step before fitting them to the drawer boxes was to trim them to length...a quick pass on one end to insure a 90º relationship to the top and bottom and then the other side using the stop on the miter bar. All six were then exactly 14 1/4" long...which matches the one above them in the top row.


And, of course, they needed to then be attached to the drawer boxes. These were a little easier than the top row, but had to be shimmed both on the bottom and on the side for spacing.


But I could clamp directly to the drawer box which was impossible with the top row due to carcase interference.


The end result...


And at that point, I was at the end of the day...or nearly so. Before wrapping up, I took a few minutes to lay out on an alternate "stile" the location for the 35mm hinge cup holes and then create them at the drill press. This not only allowed me to setup the drill press for the real stiles, but also created a test piece I could use to insure that my carcass mounted hinge components properly lined up.


Jim Becker
09-13-2007, 3:11 PM
The next day, it was time to work on assembly and fitting of the cabinet doors. On the carcasses, I used jigs to mark for the hinge mounting screws. For these inset doors, the line would be the standard 56mm back from the front of the drawers on the partition, but on the outside where there is the corner post, the measurement calculated out to 62mm. It only took a few minutes to make another jig for that alternative measurement and then move on to marking for the holes.


Once marked, the logical step was to drill pilot holes...


Using the piece I created the day before, the hinge mounts could be tested...first the left side...


...and then the right.


Here is a close-up shot of the test stile "in action".


Jim Becker
09-13-2007, 3:11 PM
Something I learned the hard way with the doors on the guest bath vanity was that one should sand the inside edges of the rails and stiles BEFORE assembly... ;)


From that point, putting them together was easy, albeit it was very important to keep all the components in the proper position on each door. All the top rails, for example, are from one board and in sequence across the two vanities. Same for the lower rails. The stiles are handled similarly. And, of course, the veneered panels DO have a top and bottom...mixing something up could cause a real heartache once the glue was dry!


As I chose to use pocket screws to assembly my doors, as I did in the guest vanity, I glued fillers into the holes just prior to thoroughly sanding the doors. These were not cherry...I didn't have any...but I wasn't really concerned about the being a different color and didn't want to wait to source them in cherry. They are on the inside. Yea, in a perfect world, but...


Once assembled, the doors looked great!


"On the last day...." I sanded the doors and fitted the hinges. These cabinets are now completely ready for final finishing. That includes getting the BLO on components that have not already been treated; a couple applications of de-waxed shellac to further enhance the color and then top coating with Target Coatings' new hybrid water borne alkyd varnish product. Hopefully, I can get started on that next weekend as I have a lot more projects for the addition to get on and get done in the next few months.


Ryan Bess
09-13-2007, 3:22 PM
I'm know that this has been mentioned to you in the past, but let me be another to thank you for the extraordinary effort you make to present such a thorough step-by-step documentary of your work. It's great to be able to see expert tips on some of the things we all do on a (daily, weekly) basis!

Matt Meiser
09-13-2007, 5:07 PM
Looking good!

Jim Kountz
09-13-2007, 9:46 PM
These look great my man! Those door panels are striking really nice. Where did the inspiration for your design come from for these vanities?
Good job.


Joe Mioux
09-13-2007, 10:12 PM
When did you get your hair cut? :confused: :D ;)

Greg Funk
09-13-2007, 10:12 PM

Excellent work! Looking forward to seeing the finished pieces. Thanks for the meticulous detailing of the building process.


Jim Becker
09-13-2007, 10:20 PM
Where did the inspiration for your design come from for these vanities?

Well...it started with the vanity for the guest bath (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=45792). You'll note the very first picture in that thread is where it poured out of my brain and onto a piece of scrap paper. That was the prototype for these...sorta. I say "sorta" in that I changed some of the carcass construction techniques on these two larger units based on lessons learned, etc., with the first project.

I wanted a "furniture" look, something akin to a Shaker feel, and QS and figured cherry. I also knew from the start that I would be using above counter bowls which made it possible to have drawers all the way across both the 36" guest unit and the two mirrored 48" master bath units.

The guest vanity featured re-sawn cherry crotch for the two book-matched doors. That was very scary, but I pulled it off somehow. For these, I couldn't find enough acceptable material to do solid panels and turned to veneer which was safer and cheaper. Oh, ok, not really...I had to buy all the stuff to do the veneering. LOL! But I wanted the same feather crotch figure in the book-matched doors and that was the method I determined was going to give it to me. Those doors really do set the pieces off, too. I really can't wait to see the end result when all the oil and finish is on the pieces and they are installed in our new master bath in a few months...:)

Jim Becker
09-13-2007, 10:22 PM
When did you get your hair cut?

Months ago the girls kept pestering me, so I gave into their wishes being the nice dad I try to be. And the minute they got home, they complained it was too short. Go figure...:o...it had been nearly 15 years since it had been cut outside of some "end trimming". But I guess at 50 a new look can be acceptable. :cool:

Jim Kountz
09-13-2007, 10:37 PM
I really can't wait to see the end result when all the oil and finish is on the pieces and they are installed in our new master bath in a few months...:)

A few months!! You cant keep us waiting that long Jim, go out there right now and finish so we can see what they look like all done! Just kidding you of course but I really do wanna see them when completed.
Again really nice work.

Jason Tuinstra
09-14-2007, 1:07 AM
Jim, things are looking great! I look forward to seeing how this whole thing finally comes together. Those door panels are fantastic! Come on, old boy, hurry up :D :p

Jim Becker
09-14-2007, 8:50 AM
A few months!! You cant keep us waiting that long Jim, go out there right now and finish so we can see what they look like all done! Just kidding you of course but I really do wanna see them when completed.

Trust me, Jim...you'll see the "finished" vanities in this thread long before the addition is done and the little buggers are installed. But that end-game is also important as it adds the countertops, fixtures and whatever I decide to do for mirrors, etc. With a piece like a vanity, the room contributes to the final "finish", as it were...

Kyle Stiefel
09-14-2007, 1:55 PM

I somehow have missed it in your thread but was wondering what jig system you are using to do your dovetailed drawers?

Nevermind, I found the post and see you outsourced them, great time saver.

Jim Becker
09-14-2007, 2:50 PM

I somehow have missed it in your thread but was wondering what jig system you are using to do your dovetailed drawers?

Nevermind, I found the post and see you outsourced them, great time saver.

Yes, these were "outsourced" but when I do my own drawers (with half-blinds) I use a Leigh D4. I've tried through dovetails on carcass construction by hand, but haven't had the time to try half-blinds...yet.

Jim Kountz
09-14-2007, 7:04 PM
Jim you have a PM



Jim Becker
09-16-2007, 9:14 PM
Well, folks, this project is soon to draw to a close. This weekend was "apply the finish" time...and so I did. This started by getting the oil on the few remaining pieces that had not already been taken care of, including the rails and stiles of the doors. A little "tanning" didn't hurt, either, since it was a nice day on Saturday...


Late in the day, I manually applied some shellac to the backs of the doors to seal them. I may or may not put additional finish there.


Sunday morning, after my latté and a little forum checkup, I, umm....cleaned the shop up more than it's been cleaned in awhile...and then got everything ready to spray. There is a lot to do...and only so much space. But I keep all the paper packing that vendors like Lee Valley use to protect merchandise and it's perfect for "masking off" things like machinery when you need to spray finishes!


I first sprayed Zissner SealCoat on all the components to seal the oil and provide a nicer surface for later application of the water borne finish I will be using, with a light scuffing in between coats with 320 to remove any nubs, etc. This also adds a little more color and richness to the oiled cherry. I let that dry for awhile and then prepared to spray a recently introduced Target Coatings hybrid water borne alkyd varnish finish. Like other Target products, this one is low VOC and ready to spray after a bit of stirring to insure that "satin" stays "satin".


Since I was out of room in the shop for anything else to spray and the sun was out, I put up a work surface just outside and sprayed the cabinet backs out there. They dried fast and that freed up this space so I could move the drawer fronts outside, reducing the chance of unfortunate overspray on the other components still inside. (Those shiny spots are reflections...)


Jim Becker
09-16-2007, 9:14 PM
Here are the doors at the end of the day. The color is great. But I think I'm going to spray one more coat later in the week or next weekend on these after a little spot sanding...a few too many nubs to make me happy.


The cabinets and the drawer fronts are just great.


And, of course, I had to install the cabinet backs after cleaning up from spraying.


Next weekend, I'll reassemble everything and post the "final" pictures, more or less, that will go in this thread until actual installation in the new master bath in a few months. I do still need to invent my door and drawer pulls, but my mind is already churning on an idea for that. They will be different than the pulls on the guest bath vanity and something I can carry for continuity into the cabinetry I'll be starting shortly for in the "toilet room" of the master bath. But they will be made from black walnut from off our property.

Jim Becker
02-09-2008, 10:19 PM
They are closer to being installed...in the building! In fact, they go in on Monday. Sadly, I will miss that due to a business appointment, but I'll post pictures with them installed then. Boy, does my shop feel empty now...


Jim Becker
04-20-2008, 9:04 PM
Well...we are in the final throws of our addition project and I got all the knobs, etc., on the drawers and doors this weekend. So here are some final pictures of the cherry vanities in the master bath. Move-in day should (hopefully) be soon...

Oh, and yes, the offset of the bowl and mirror was planned that way... ;)

86887 86888 86889 86890

Oh, and just so the story is somewhat complete...here's the shower. :D


Alan Tolchinsky
04-20-2008, 10:50 PM
Great job Jim! Thanks for sharing; I've enjoyed watching your progress over the months. I especially like the doors.

Keith Starosta
04-21-2008, 7:32 AM
WOW!! Jim, that looks fantastic!! I can't wait to (hopefully!!) see that in person one day soon. It must be VERY satisfying to see your hard work in its final state...looking great!

- Keith

Art Mulder
04-21-2008, 7:45 AM
Oh, and yes, the offset of the bowl and mirror was planned that way... ;).....
Oh, and just so the story is somewhat complete...here's the shower. :D

Re: Mirrors.... :confused: I'm getting a crick in my neck just thinking about shaving with an arrangement like that. I don't get it, Jim.

Re: Shower... :cool::p:D Niiiiiiiice. But... only one shower head?

Jim Becker
04-21-2008, 8:51 AM
Two shower heads, Art. Rainfall on the ceiling and a hand-held. "More" woukd have been nice, but the water supply and waste issues would have been large.

As to the mirror, there is no rule that says one's face has to be over the bowl when shaving...but I did think about it and determined that for the two or three times a week it happens, it's not a big deal. I may also put a mirror in the hower for this anyway.

Matt Meiser
04-21-2008, 8:58 AM
They look great Jim.

Roy Wall
04-21-2008, 9:21 AM
Jim -

Your work is always outstanding and we appreciate all your hard work to present this instructional thread ---- Awesome!!

Dave Avery
04-21-2008, 10:44 AM

Beautiful work........ how did the veneer process go? Best. Dave.

Jim Tobias
04-21-2008, 11:14 AM
That looks great! Nice cabinets and other features in shower, etc.
Bathroom cabinet replacement is something that I want to tackle. You may have given me the inspiration!!


Peter Quinn
04-21-2008, 11:40 AM
Wonderful pictorial/tutorial. Thanks for the time spent photographing your process. Very inspirational and educational.

I'm curious about your spray set up for the Target coatings. Is there a particular configuration you find most effective for the waterborne finishes from Target? Tip size, HVLP, etc.? I know this is not the finishing forum but I've gotten few responses there or elsewhere from woodworkers actively using Target USL or Hybrivar and am considering trying them this spring. Any tips would be most appreciated.

nate hatfield
05-27-2009, 11:29 AM
Do you have any pictures of the completed project?

nate hatfield
05-27-2009, 11:31 AM
nevermind i found the finished pics

John Thompson
05-27-2009, 1:50 PM
Very nicely done, Jim. I got very busy and missed posted pics for several weeks. I thought I had caught up but this is the first I have seen of this project. Again.. very nice and a lot of added work with all the tutorial pics as John K. is doing as is does give a much larger "big picture" of the hours of work that goes on behind the scenes in lieu of just a final photo.



glenn bradley
05-27-2009, 1:55 PM
Jim, thanks so much for all the pics and for taking us along for the ride. The pieces look great and the descriptions of your steps is very helpful.

Roy Wall
06-01-2009, 12:41 AM
Nice ..........nice...........very nice!!

Awesome indeed - I like it!!:)

Jerry Olexa
06-02-2009, 10:19 AM
very nice results. Like your step by step pictures. You always appreciate things more when you build them yourself. Thanks for sharing...