Joinery London Practical techniques

Dry fitting an alcove cabinet

This little job is actually for my best chum, so it needs to be right. I’ve used solid wood on parts that I felt would benefit from being done to a good standard. The doors and face frames are Poplar (Tulipwood here in the UK), but all the other sheets parts are in MDF or MRMDF. There was just a little bit of fitting required for the applied mouldings on the doors. I did that then went to see if this while thing fitted in the corner it was designed for. Thankfully, it did!

I don’t have a mitre saw, so I made up a quick jig for cutting 45-degree mitres for the applied mouldings. The jig was ok, but I realised in use I could have made it longer, in case I make larger doors. Hey-ho, it’s fine for this.
The doors are obviously going to be painted, so looks good enough for me.
All three doors done.
I fitted the doors into the face frame on the bench with 3mm shims all around and shaved where necessary to get an even fit.
Nice, consistent gaps.
On site today and plinth has been fitted at base. Once the job is sprayed, this will be fitted, levelled up and will take out any unevenness in the floor. For now, the cabinet is just resting on it. We will be bringing the electrical sockets into the cabinet later.
In this pic, you can see the face frame needs to come down to cabinet level, so we cut away slots into the skirting. You can cut slots, or take off whole pieces of skirting or cope the face frame over the skirting profiles. Many ways to skin a cat.
Blessed with nice, straight walls here. The plasterer did a good job in the corner.
Face frame in on lower cab. Upper cabinet will be bookshelves and I’ve added side blocks just to help support upper face frame. Probably unnecessary, but it was helpful when the box was on the bench and I was laying on the face frame for measuring.
Doors just popped in with shims for now, but whole design should work well I think. There will also be a narrow length of ogee profile skirting along the bottom.
Upper face frame now in. This took longer to fit, as we had a bit of back and forth trimming for the walls.
All seems to work well. Time to take everything out, fit the hinges for the doors and then disassemble for the sprayer.
Hackney Practical techniques

Mitred beaded face frames

A recent joinery job I was asked to do called for some beaded face frames on an alcove cabinet. This detail works particularly well as it creates a nice shadow break before the flat panel of the door, it’s a detail I see a lot on Victorian houses in London. Making the mitred corners isn’t too hard, but quite challenging if you are doing it for the first time.
A router table and appropriate beading bit are pretty much essential, unless you are running the profile on a moulder. I guess you could set up a router so it’s supported to run the profile horizontally in some way, if you don’t have a router table. Of course, you can always cut the bead with a moulding plane too, if you have one the right size.
But with a router table, it’s a pretty easy job to set the height on some scrap and run your face frame lengths through. The mitre is achieved by cutting away the bead only in the area where the rails meets the stile. That joint needs a 45 degree bevel through the adjoining beads.
For this job, I cut the beading on the (over-long) rails and stiles. Then, I placed the face frame on the cabinet and worked out where on my stiles I wanted the joint to be. Taking the stiles to the table saw, I cut the 45 degree cuts into the beading and then cut away with a straight blade the part of the beading I didn’t need. Returning to the cabinet, I placed them again and had an accurate idea of the correct distance to cut my rails. I cut the rails and then cut the 45 degree corner from the bead. The beading should them mitre together and your rails and stiles should butt up nicely. (Before you do any of the beading, establish where your Domino joints will be and do those, if you use that technique. Or, if you are using pocket hole screws to join the face frame, you can do this at the end).
Hopefully the pics make sense. The job is now packaged up for the spray painter and should be installed in a week or so, so I’ll take some pictures once it’s in.

And, if you would like to go even further with using your router table to make the joints, then there’s a very good tutorial, click here where the chap has a very clear system of his own. He makes use of the Kreg 45 degree bit, which replaces my method of using a 45 degree blade in the table saw.

Hand Tools Practical techniques Saws

Saw till done!

All done. I’ll get this on the wall at some point, but for now it’s on the bench. I added some wood strips with saw kerfs cut on the table saw and the saw blades rest in those. I have a little space at the top right above the smaller saws, which I might use. But I think I will also add a slim drawer at the bottom in the near future, as I can use that for saw files and stuff. A nice project to do with hand tools. I’m going to make some Krenov-style ‘bents’ next.

Hand Tools Practical techniques Saws

Making a saw till (part two)

I worked on this for an hour or so, but I have just got the green light to get going on some paid work, so it will stay at this stage for a while. The basics are there, I will probably paint it and perhaps add a drawer.

The dovetails are cut back underneath to slim them down so that the front bar doesn’t show any gaps. A knife-wall to help my saw cut.

Now it’s cut back, any small gaps will be hidden.

Adding a cut back dovetail also helps with registering for the marking out. A bit like the ‘140 trick’.

Take your depth reference from the thinned down joint, not the full depth.

Marked out for cuts.

Nice tight fit.

Both ends fit well and I can plane off the ends later. Might leave them though?

I also added a chamfer on the top edges of the front bar as the horn of the saw totes will be sitting on it.

Taking another depth reference for the second rear rail.

Cutting out rebates for second rail. Place thse rails in the best possible positions which approximately match the common heights of your saws. The rails will have blocks added with saw cuts afterwards, but try to get them sort of in the right place.

Chopping out rebates for rear rail.

Chopping out rebates for rear rail.

Clean up with a decent paring chisel.

Take your time and you will get some nice, crisp rebates.

Looking good.

As it’s on the back, you can get away with glue and screws here for extra strength.

I’ve put the two rear rails in and it’s not far off.

I quite like these protruding ends. I might chamfer the edges with a sharp chisel and leave them on. What do you think?

Hand Tools Practical techniques Saws

Making a saw till

Glad to say I’ve finally found a workshop close to me that I can call home. The workshop is blessed with old machines and even better, other people from whom I can learn a lot about traditional joinery. It feels like every day I conquer a new technique with my hand tools, or learn a better way to do something on one of the machines.
I’ve been waiting on a client to give the go-ahead on the next job, so thought I would put together a saw till to get my saws neatly organised.
This wall-hung design relies on the saw totes resting on a bottom bar and the plates of the saws are held in place by kerfs in blocks further up. it will all make sense as you see it come together.
If you’re going to make one of these, I would choose something more hard-wearing than the Poplar I have lying around. I’ve gone with softwood, purely because I have a chunk left over. I plan to make another till in the future from a denser timber, but this will do for now.

I laid my various saws onto a piece of mdf and keeping the horn of the tote in the same place, sketched out where the saw would fall if it was leaning into the till. I have a mix of tenon, dovetail and larger saws.

I cut this out to a nice curve, the shape of which will be the side of the saw till. You don’t have to have a curve, just go straight if you like.

If you’re planning on using a router to cut your curve, you can of course use your mdf template. Just sand it nicely and clamp it over your timber with a bearing bit to follow the shape. I wanted to use hand tools, so I just used the template to trace the sides. Two sides fitted onto my scrap timber.

I made a concession to machines and roughly cut the sides on a bandsaw.

Out withe the spokeshave. When you get a spokeshave sharpened up and dialled in, there really is no nicer tool to use. The finish on the edges of these sides is glass smooth.

So there we are, two matched sides.

This will be the bar across the front of the till. It will tie the sides together, but as it’s also on the front, I’ll put a dovetail on both ends, rather than use screws.

Dovetails are cut, but I might also cut back the depth of the dovetail before I rebate it, so the bar definitely won’t show the joint.

I’ll do a bit more tomorrow. Then it’s back stretchers in too. They can be screwed as you won’t see them, but they do need to be rebated as well. There enough space below the bar to hopefully get a small drawer in here, so I can maybe use that for saw files, etc.