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My first furniture piece need advice...

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  • My first furniture piece need advice...

    To make a long story short...

    Always wanted to do wood working, but never had the time, the place, or the excuse... Now my time is split between Chicago and rural S.C.

    Talked the wife in to letting take the plunge and bought some nice goodies. (My goal was to buy tools with the idea of them lasting the next 30 years or longer.) Also bought some scrap so I can practice.

    My first project is to build a base cabinet/table to sit below a window so I can put my computer, printer, fax out of the way, with some cubby hole space to store supplies.

    I am trying to keep this simple and clean, but still have some fun.

    I would like to rip the edges of the cabinet with a 45 degree bevel and then use biskets to join the sides. I would then divide the length in to thirds and use a dado cut for the center pieces.

    Is this too advanced?
    What should I do for the feet? I'm thinking of either a toe kick or just some feet to hide the levelers. (Any suggestion as to what works best?)

    Any other gotcha's or suggestions would be appreciated.

    As to skill level, If I take my time, measure a couple of times and practice on scrap, things work out.

    Safety is no accident!

  • #2
    I wouldn't say it's to advanced for you. I would suggest that you go to the library and get a book on joints though. Biscuts do not make the joint strong. Splines do though.

    You're right about the practice and taking your time. Best advise you can give!
    Support Our Troops!


    • #3
      Forget about making 45* cuts for corners on a carcass. They are a hassle, and unless a very experienced person with very accurate equipment, the results will be disappointing. Make straight 90* cuts and then make a face frame to install on the front to hide any bad edges. This method is also an advantage when making the dado cuts for dust frames. Use the biscuits for joining the face frame to the carcass or for making the dust frames/shelves.

      If you don't already have a pocket hole jig, may I suggest a Kreg product. if money is no object, the pro pack is the way to go for $130. If money is an issue, pick up the pocket jig with drill bit for $20. You can't go wrong.

      As to the levelers, you'll need to make some sort of block system for the corners, which involves making the toe kick. You'll need to re-evaluate the height of the drawers and shelves when you add in the extra 3" or so.

      Last, pick up a good book on cabinet making. there is one I've been wanting to pick up called "the complete illustrated guide to cabinet making" Woodcraft and Rockler sells them for $39, but you can buy from Lee Valley or Amazon for $26. Also watch the New Yankee Workshop when Norm builds cabinets. The techniques are simple and effective.


      • #4
        Thanks for the input.

        Actually I have the "The Complete Illustrated guide to Furniture & Cabinet Construction" by Andy Rae.
        It gives a quick overview and some good ideas.
        (And I'm not against getting a library of good books either, will just have to build a large book case for one of my projects.

        The nice thing about this project is that I can try a couple of things and if I screw up, I can downsize it a little. So if the 45 degree bevel doesn't work, I can rip the edge again and then do something simpler.

        I thought about using a spline, but heck... what would I make the spine from? (Sorry its a silly question, but I'm new... :-P

        I'm not too worried about the biskets though. The weight of the cabinet will be carried on the two inner partitions and they will be held by a dado and then some screws from underneath.

        I guess the pocket screws would be best to hold the top on. Didn't think about that, thanks.
        Safety is no accident!


        • #5
          Have you considered finding a project with a plan already in place. I am new too, and have found from different woodworking sources that there are a lot of things that to into furniture design. Joint strength / asthetics < there are certain furniture dimensions that are easy to the eye and others that are not >. I plan to design my own someday but chose to begin following plans to have nicer results as I learn.

          Whatever you decide to do you'll learn something and enjoy your new hobby.

          Have fun

          Here's a great source for plans to download on internet


          • #6
            Work from a plan?
            Sure, if I had one that matched what I needed to build.

            This project is born out of necessity. I need to create a table 20" wide and 78" long so I can place my CPU, Sat modems, Printer and Fax out of the way so I can clear off the dining room table and make my wife happy.

            Part of the fun is to design your own creation.
            Instead of a table, I thought a simple box would work so that I'd have a play to store some office supplies.

            The physics of the design are pretty straight forward. The bulk of the downward force will be carried by the two center partitions. The two end and the back pieces will add regidity but the joints should not have to hold a lot of force. Thats why biscuits will work. (A spline would be better, but wouldn't you have to cut the kerfs on a 45 degree? Not an easy task. Heck the 45 degree bevel on 78" of 3/4" ply was a pain.

            So the center partitions will be held in dados and I'll probably add a couple of screws in the bottom . As to securing the top, pocket screws sound good, but biscuits and glue would work too. In this case, gravity is your friend.

            I'm only beveling the sides and the back piece so if I do screw up the 45 degree rip, it won't show and if I'm off by a little, I can fix it.

            I admit, I'm new here and to wood working, and what I'm building may not work. But thats why I would like some input and validate my design.

            I have to say that this is an excellent site and a lot of knowledgable people here.
            Safety is no accident!


            • #7
              Try this site too. I get alot of ideas from them on projects I work on.


              Have fun



              • #8
                In hindsight...

                I'm working on a TS2400 in the backyard.
                (Plenty of room but not a lot of support or jigs.)

                Working with 4x8 sheets of 3/4" ply is a bear. Even when you cut it down to 24" wide with a circular saw. (still working with 80" in length).

                I would probably change my design next time.
                I'd still like a solid top, but I'd dado the sides and float the bottom "shelves" in a dado as well. then have the sides and the center pieces stand as "legs" with maybe a toe kick space cut out and a kick plate added. (so it would look like a minature kitchen base cabinet.) Then I'd be working mainly with 20"x24" rectangle pieces.
                (Or so but you get the idea.)

                I think thats the point of this project. To have fun and consider some design options.

                Thanks again for the input. [img]smile.gif[/img]
                Safety is no accident!


                • #9
                  It's great to finally hear someone talking about woodworking instead of complaining about tools! It's also great to hear someone who is coming up with an idea and using their brain to make it reality- THAT is my favorite part of woodworking!

                  I agree with others in saying that the 45 deg bevels with biscuits doesn't sound like the most conventional method of box construction. Rae's book is excellent as is Rogowski's, "Illustrated Guide to Joinery." Of the methods that Rae presents on page 48, I think the butt joints -or- dadoes and rabbits give you the most bang for the buck if you add a face frame or edge banding.

                  If you're interested in designing your own furniture, you might find the article, "A Guide to Good Design" in Jan/Feb 2004 Fine Woodworking, to be quite interesting. It talks about the Golden Ratio and its application to furniture. I know it's a priniple that I'll be employing in future projects.

                  Good luck and have fun!


                  • #10
                    I certainly don't consider myself a "woodworking expert" but I'd like to share an idea with you. When I build a project like you're working on I make a scale drawing on graph paper and then a "cut list drawing" showing dimensions, angles, joints, etc. of most of the pieces. Takes a little time, but I always catch mistakes (most, but not always all the mistakes) I would have made when it came to cutting and assembling. It's also a nice reference to have if you decide some day to make another one.
                    Welcome to a great hobby and remember "SAFETY FIRST". [img]smile.gif[/img]

                    [ 01-02-2004, 03:33 PM: Message edited by: Lorax ]
                    "Did you put the yellow key in the switch?" TOD 01/09/06


                    • #11
                      Nice to see someone in the same boat as myself. Just gathering the tools to do a reasonable project has been a challenge.

                      Picked up a TS3650 a couple of months ago and have been in love with making saw dust ever since. What a great saw too! Was a pain in the keester setting up but boy does she purr! Played with her the last 2 days with temps in the sub-zero range (garage based shop) and she didn't miss a beat!

                      First project was puttin down close to 2000 feet of PERGO; covered 3 rooms and a stairwell. TS made it down right fun. Yea, I know, not quite woodworking but had to start somewhere ....

                      Realized half the challenge of planning a project was getting comfortable with the tools; makin saw dust gets you there alot faster than I thought.

                      Have turned into a Home Depot, Woodcraft, Rockler junky; doin it easier and safer being more important than faster.

                      Have been watchin these forums, this one in particular for a while, and can't thank y'all enough! Yes even the Ridgid bashers! The advice has been great, ideas on projects and problem solving even better.

                      Have a boat load of Milwaukee tools (cordless combo pack rocks!), Dewalt sander and Miter saw, and recently bought the Ridgid Orbital Jig Saw (thing cuts like hot knife thru butter in anything!). I'm not pro any one mfg. but prefer german made if I can find it ...

                      For those looking for a tool, keep the cash at home and don't impulse buy, try it if ya can, and don't hesitate to return if it doesn't perform as expected (regardless of brand)!

                      Picked up some great cabinetry and woodworking books so here we go ....

                      Thanks again,