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Thread: Spool Cabinet Design - Where do I start?

  1. #1
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    Spool Cabinet Design - Where do I start?

    I want to built a replica spool cabinet to use an End Table. I've made furniture before, but always used plans. This time, I'd like to design it myself (With lots of your help). Basically, I want to create a frame and panel box (24 x 24 x 26) with a drawer stack and have it sit on a base. I certainly can design the end panels, but what is the best way to connect a bottom and subtop? Should they be solid or just a web? The drawers will be side hung. What about the back? If I built a 3rd frame and panel, how would I connect it to the ends? This entire project will be built from solid wood, so I'll need to allow for wood movement.
    Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

    Lisa

  2. #2
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    Lisa
    My imagining of a spool cabinet table is made from a big wire spool but am having a hard time matching it to your question. Can you post a picture or sketch of what you are thinking?

  3. #3
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    Lisa, just to be clear, Iím thinking youíre looking at something like this?

    9D9E7313-3D06-49E4-8484-24DEF2348E52.jpg

  4. #4
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    Phil, You've got it. That is exactly what I'd like to build.

  5. #5
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    Regarding joining the back to the side panels, I looked at photos of several antique spool cabinets for sale on-line, and it appears that the back fits into a shallow rabbet in the stiles of the side panels. I'd guess there would be corner braces at the top, and maybe bottom to add strength (and for attaching the top).

    Most of the photos I looked at showed wide rails and stiles, but if you were willing to go with something narrower - say 2" - it seems like you could use square stock (2x2) for the stiles, and the back would share its stiles with the sides. Basically, attaching the rails would be like attaching aprons to table legs. If you do it this way, you could extend the "legs" a few inches below the lower rails, giving you something to attach some molding to, to form your base.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Mueller View Post
    Lisa, just to be clear, I’m thinking you’re looking at something like this?

    9D9E7313-3D06-49E4-8484-24DEF2348E52.jpg
    Man, that's a nice piece. Look forward to your build pics Lisa!
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  7. #7
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    Lisa, one of the major benefits of the frame-and-panel design is that it takes care of the issue of wood movement. The panel floats inside the frame, so that it can change in width without any effect on the overall dimensions of the frame. The frame is composed of relatively narrow pieces of wood. They do change in width, but the effect is so small that it can be ignored.

    The frame-and-panel sides can be just glued to a frame-and-panel back. None of those three components will be moving. The sub top and the bottom, which you want to connect firmly to the sides and back, also should be of some no-movement architecture. In solid lumber, you can do this with a frame-and-panel thing which doesn't have a panel. Or you can use plywood. Plywood's criss-crossing laminates, does not move with atmospheric humidity changes. In your spool cabinet, you won't see the sub-top or the bottom, so plywood might be an easy solution.

    The top, if it is like Phil's pic, is solid lumber. It is going to expand and contract across the grain -- not a lot, but enough that you should allow for it. Usually builders fasten the top firmly in some spot -- say across the front -- and let the rest of the top slide a bit. There's two common ways to let the top slide. One is a figure-8 fastener. (Look on lee valley or woodcraft web sites.) The other is screws through slotted holes. That is, there would be screws running up through the sub-top. The heads would be below the sub-top, and the threads would be in the top. The hole through the sub-top would be oversized, or elongated in the front-back direction, so the top can move. When you drive the screws, you drive them snug, and then back them off a bit. The idea is to allow sliding movement, but not up-down movement.

  8. #8
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    Thank you everyone for your input. I've nailed down a basic design and will begin detailed drawings/plans this coming week. The entire piece, with the exception of a couple of sub-bottoms, will be made from mystery wood initially milled in 1838. My stash is from renovating our home and much of it is very wide, virtually clear and amazing stable. It is either a softer hardwood or a harder softwood, but I like the way it looks when milled and finished. I'll keep you posted once I begin the project, but need to wait for the Hammer J/P to arrive first.

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