Practical techniques Uncategorized

Nearly finished…

Finally getting to the end on this house renovation. This week I got to finally work with some wood, albeit only plywood.

Love these Festool tools. Routing in the sun!
Love these Festool tools. Routing in the sun!
This is the right hand space. The wall at the back of the room has been left alone throughout the renovation and now has a sort of Cy Twombly/Basquiat feel. 🙂

The front bedroom needs some built-ins in the alcoves to right and left of the chimney breast. I’ve already made some plinths, because the idea is to stand cabinets in the holes, rather than try to deal with hanging shelving onto the wall. The walls in these corners are in quite bad shape, as is often the case with older houses. The walls elsewhere are great, but one had to be entirely re-plastered.

I built the cabinets with birch ply and have routed out the rear to accept a ply back board. I did all this on a rare sunny day in London and I have to admit I was very pleased I’ve recently invested in a secondhand Festool router, (so old it’s actually pre-Festool and called Festo). I also have a secondhand TS55 plunge saw from Festool and these two tools are worth their weight in gold for this type of work.
All the sheet stock is now prepped to size and I lipped the shelves with tulipwood, so that you don’t see the raw ply edges. The shelves have had two coats of clear varnish.

To add the lipping I cramped three glued-up shelves up at once, for speed.
Adding lipping. I shaved back the lipping after the glue went off. Went as close as I dared with a sharpened plane, before taking it right down with glasspaper.

When I get to put the cabinets together, (I don’t have a Domino), I’ll screw the main parts together and maybe even screw the shelves in too. Not sure they’ll need to be moved much, so might avoid doing the shelf-pin-hole thing. I figure I’ll then add pocket holes around the outside and once I’ve sized up for a face frame to hide the cabinet edges, I can attach in that way.
Only other decision is whether I should attached the doors to the face frame, or size the face frame so it’s nearly flush and add hinges to the inside of the box in the conventional way.

This little Grex pinner is a great tool to have around when making cabinets on your own. You can hold elements flush and pin them, while you find you drill and screws. I watched the late great Joe Fusco do this. God bless you Joe, you will live on through YouTube!
All the stock cut to size and routed out for back panels.
Giving the shelves two coats of clear varnish, sanding in-between with 240 paper.

Any thoughts on both methods would be appreciated. The first method will require some proper face-frame hinges and would also require face-frame material of a good quality. Something like maple with good strength, which would be more resilient to knocks. I could circumvent this by going down the second route, the face-frame being decorative with Euro-style hinges attached to the box. I’ll have to decide on this.

4 replies on “Nearly finished…”

Alright, gol darn it! That’s enough. I’m going on a Crusade as the Masked Avenger to call out every woodworker who finishes something with “poly.”

The term “poly” is always nothing more than a prefix to a term meaning “many.” But you knew that, actually, didn’t you. It may be used in polymer chemistry as a part of the name of any one of a relatively vast array of resins, such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride (aka PVC), polyepoxide (aka epoxy resin), polyvinyl acetate (aka wood glue), polyvinyl alcohol, polyurethane, polyimides, polyamides, polyesters and many more.

Which one did you mean? How are we supposed to be sure? Your usage is per se ambiguous and potentially misleading to your readers. You debase the language.

Do you describe your nice piece of furniture to other woodworkers as made of “wood” when what you actually mean is “spalted soft maple” or some such and should be pleased to be accurately informative? Of course not.


Thanks for letting me blow of a bit of steam.


You are quite right to call me out on that! To be fair, I probably spend a bit too long perusing American woodworking sites and while it would be extremely unfair to blame those sites, the wrongful use of the term ‘poly’ must have stuck in my head and popped out for this post. I stress I am someone who when asked how I am, I make a point of saying ‘I’m well, thank you’, instead of ‘I’m good’.
Assuming you are a ‘Polly’ yourself, (I’m reminded of Poly Styrene from the X-Ray Specs), I can only apologise, promise to try harder and amend the post. Have a good day.

Hi Gary,

Regarding the hinges – I think your options will be constrained by the thickness of the side panels. If they are quite thin they are unlikely to rigidly support a “concealed hinge” and in particular it may be difficult to get the screws to make a firm attachment to thin ply.

Under the circumstances I suggest you opt for a hardwood door frame planted onto the front to hold the doors with conventional hinges. Not sure if this helps, but good luck with the project!

All the best – Richard

Hi Richard

Yes, it’s 18mm ply, so should be plenty sturdy. I might still go with normal hinges on the frame though, will get the boxes glued up first I think.

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