he inspiration for this cabinet came from a small billet of Swiss pear given to me seven years ago. I felt that it had taken me at least that long to acquire the skills to work with this beautiful, but somewhat difficult wood. The pear was a dark golden pink and had a soft appearance. I designed the cabinet to highlight the wood’s wonderful surface and its ability to stand up to the shaping of delicate edge profiles. I wanted to show off the raw material.
I resawed the pear into veneers, a scant Vs-inch thick, bookmatched them, and glued them to a plywood core. I then edge banded and shaped the top and bottom. I doweled the sides to small 1 Vi-inch posts, needing solid wood for the joints with the legs. Next, I doweled the top, bottom and sides together precisely, using one dowel per inch. I finished all the pieces before gluing up. The legs, made from jarrah, were then notched, glued and screwed to the corners of the cabinet. ,
Pear is as demanding as it is beautiful. The joinery must be tight and perfect; slight imperfections are very noticeable. I spent a great deal of time sharpening my planes to get the edge joints crisp and the surfaces unflawed. The jarrah, on the other hand, was a pleasure to work with. It planed in any direction, sawed and shaped easily, and took the light oil finish I applied very well. I finished the pear with several thin coats of blond shellac, bringing out its color and surface markings.
Inside the cabinet are two drawers, each made of Andaman padauk and camphor. Under the drawers, in the middle of the interior, is a curved shelf. I made the L-shaped knife hinges and door pulls from patinated brass.
My inspiration comes from several sources, including my teacher Jim Krenov, Greek architecture, Japanese craft and French cabinetmaker Emile Ruhlmann. What is important in everything I make is that the influences are balanced, the craftsmanship is the best I can achieve, and the results pleasing.
Michael Bums teaches cabinetmaking at College of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg, California.
Terry Moore and his