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Ben Arnott

My Shakashima Media Cabinet Part 7

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The two back panels and the two interior panels were made of sugar maple. The two back panels were made of 2 boards glued on edge and joined with biscuits. The two interior panels were made 3 boards glued on edge and joined with biscuits. The interior panels would separate the three bays. After the panels were glued up, I hand planed them across grain to flatten the boards out. Once flat, I planed with the grain to smooth out the boards. They were installed the same way as the side panels. However, before I could install the center panels, I wanted to build the bottom and install that beforehand.


The bottom would be Cherry. I wanted it to be tongue and groove so that the bottom could freely expand and contract without putting stress on the framing members of the piece. I decided I would make the bottom out of 5 pieces, 3 wide planks and 2 end pieces. The end pieces would serve to flatten the bottom. The end pieces would be notched to fit around the interior of the legs.

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Once the bottom was assembled, flattened, smoothed and scraped with a card scraper, I flipped it upside down once more to shoot 1 brad nail through the end of each board into the end pieces. The brad was shot in the center of the board to allow the board to expand and contract evenly on either edge. The nails are only visible from under the cabinet. No glue was used.

The bottom was installed to float on cleats screwed into the bottom rails from underneath. The cleats were screwed into the bottom rails using kreg pocket holes. I hate using screws, but these were the only ones used in this project (other than fastening the top with wood buttons - more on that later). For the time being, only the two end cleats were installed to support the bottom while I installed the interior panels. I didn't want the bottom to interfere with the installation of the rails that would hold the interior panels. So, I would wait until the interior panels were installed before fitting the last two cleats.

The interior panels, sit in a groove that runs along the top and bottom interior rails and through the front and back stiles. The rails have tenons that insert into mortises in the front and back stiles at the top and bottom.

Now, I was ready for the big glue up. I used every clamp I own, just about. The challenge was working fast enough. After gluing up the piece, I waited 30 minutes and shaved glue off a few joints that had squeeze out. I wait for 30 mins so the glue has a chance to harden enough that I can remove it intact with a razor blade. This works pretty well, and there's never a trace of it during the finishing process.

The next day, I returned to the shop, removed the clamps, flipped the cabinet upside down and installed the last two cleats from the bottom. Because the bottom is floating, I wanted the two interior bottom rails (housing the interior panels) to sit tight to the bottom. So, I decided to "spring" the two cleats below. This would ensure that the bottom sat flush with the rails running around the cabinet, and prevent sag in the middle.

After I was happy with the fit of the cleats running between the front and back bottom rails of the cabinet, I took my jointer plane and trimmed the thickness of the cleats at the ends. What I wanted was a cleat that was thicker in the middle than on the ends where the screws were. This way, when I pushed the cleat tight to the divider rail above the tongue and grove bottom and drove a screw into the front rail the cleat would be held off the bottom at the back rail by a half inch. Then when I pushed the cleat tight to the bottom at the rear, it would spring the bottom tight to the divider rails above. This made a tight marriage inside the cabinet with no sag in the middle. It worked pretty good. The "floating" bottom was secure with no glue and no rattling.
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Updated 01-24-2011 at 5:22 PM by Ben Arnott