ost woodworkers make up the wide panels for a carcase by gluing boards together edge-to-edge. Building a carcase this way is not a matter of cutting costs at the expense of strength. Panels of edge-glued boards are every bit as strong as a single piece of lumber. In fact, a proper glue joint provides a sturdier bond than the fibers of a piece of wood.
Follow the steps detailed below and on the following pages to assemble panels. Apart from a supply of glue and an
assortment of clamps, all you need is a level work surface or a shop-built glue rack (page 24). To help keep the boards aligned, some woodworkers also use dowels (page 25). For more information on selecting glue, refer to the inside back cover of this book.
Selecting your wood is an important part of the process... >
hether it is a box that will house a couple of drawers and a shelf or a china cabinet destined to grace your dining room, the carcase you build will feature many of the basic elements illustrated below. First, it will have four sides, or panels, which are usually the same width and thickness. Another require
ment is that parallel panels must have the same dimensions.
Although a panel can be made from a single piece of lumber, it is generally less expensive to glue narrower boards edge-to-edge to form the wide surface (page 20). Once glued up, the panels are planed, jointed on one edge, cut to size, >
and then their surfaces are sanded...
The basic box—or carcase—featured in this chapter has long been the starting point of many types of furniture. The earliest examples were simple coffers, nailed or pegged together, that served double-duty as chests or benches. Today, there are seemingly limitless variations on that same basic design. The smallest examples of carcase construction feature delicate pieces of highly figured, exotic woods, such as bird’s-eye maple, rosewood or Hawaiian koa, that are assembled with precise joints and delicate hinges to form jewelry boxes and silver chests. Larger but still compact boxes provide the framework for drawers.
Once assembled, the type of carcase examined in the pages that follow can be the basis for anything from a small dresser or tool chest to a floor-to-ceiling cabin... >
he first step in any cabinetmaking project is to select and prepare your stock. As shown below, not all the wood at a lumberyard is free of defects, so it is important to choose boards carefully.
Whether you are building an armoire or a toy box, most stock is readied in
roughly the same way. The procedures illustrated on pages 13 to 15 cover the basic techniques. For rough, or unsurfaced lumber, first pass one face across the jointer, then one edge, producing two surfaces that are at 90° to each other. Next, plane the second face, making >
it parallel to the first. Now you are ready to rip your stock to width and crosscut it to length. For dressed, or surfaced lumber, you only have to joint one edge, then rip and crosscut...
eing self-taught, I rely on a very informal approach to design. My furniture tends to evolve as I proceed through the construction process. For example, seeking an alternative to the common tapered leg, and inspired by 1920s cabinetmakers Jules Leleu and Emile Ruhlmann, I developed a multifaceted fluted leg. To do this, I designed a fixture for my spindle shaper that allowed me to profile and flute the twelve facets of the leg. After much trial and error, I had one prototype leg and a whole new challenge: Namely, how to attach the leg to a table or desk apron. Eventually, I made a mock-up of a desk with a diagonal corner post and attached the leg to the post... >
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... >
remember when I first came under the spell of Shaker furniture. Wandering the halls of the Shaker Museum in Old Chatham, New York, I was transported to another time, awestruck at the feeling evoked by those simple pieces. The Shakers were a religious, utopian society that flourished in New England and the Midwest in the 19th Century. Their furniture designs were born at least partially out of a desire to lead a simpler, more religious existence. In their quest, they achieved a purity of design rivaled only by the work created for the Buddhist temples of Japan.
For lack of a more descriptive term, I have dubbed the cupboard and case of drawers shown here “The Utility Chest... >