29 March 2013

Cunning Construction?

Sometimes I can look for ages to try and find a bit of inspiration for a project.

At other times, something pops up straight away...such as the Japanese lamp on page 82 in the first edition Alan Peter's must have book, 'Cabinet Making, the Professional Approach'.

We need another lamp in the lounge and SWIMBO was rather taken with the photo in the book, but at the top of the frame on each corner is a construction that looks like my pic, where the rails have been extended by 40mm or so.

This was a practice piece, but if you can work out how it was made, you can have a week's  membership, free and gratis, to this Blog...now there's an offer you won't receive every day!

Don't have nightmares!...

25 March 2013

The 'Double Square' Cabinet

The latest piece has at last been finished...the 'Double Square' cabinet, aptly named simply for no other reason that I happened to have a few roughly square oddments of English Walnut that were suitable for a few panels but couldn't really be used for much else.  It was difficult to photograph in the workshop as I've only got a narrow grey background...hence the rather skewed pic shown above.  The top and bottom horizontal door rails form a natural curve and on each they door meet exactly...no 'step' between one and the other.

This was bloody tricky...slight understatement!

The pic below is taken at rather a more 'natural' angle:

...and shows the cabinet installed in it's place in the lounge.  It was always the intention for the two main back panels to mirror the doors, which it does in the pic below:

...and this can be seen to better effect when the doors are opened and the:

...interior can be seen.  The vertical stiles have been deliberately made so that they're equal, which looks quite effective.

There are one or two secret compartments as well as three 'Quaker Locks' (previously mentioned):

...and the shot above shows the hidden keyway slot in the closed position, with the circular ash knob in the centre of the rail,  so that when the pin is removed and the keyway insert slid back:

...they can be seen.  Looking at the underside, you can see in the pic below:

...one of the four steel brackets used to hold the stand and cabinet together with the keyway slid open to reveal the 4mm hole, ready for the insertion of the pin to release the Quaker lock on the lower drawer.

An interesting piece to make, together with more than a few challenges, not least of which was the alignment of the doors.

18 March 2013


This latest piece is coming together reasonably well.  There have been on or two minor 'niggles' but nothing that couldn't be sorted out quite quickly.

The pic shows the doors shot into the cabinet opening with some slivers of 0.6mm veneer to act as a spacer and create a 'shadow gap' all round.

All good stuff and pretty common practise.

The doors look quite good as well...sort of a 'double square' effect, which though not intentional, was governed by the size of the panels I had available.

But if you're really observant, and look very carefully you'll note that there isn't a big, sticky piece of paper on each door saying, in letters writ large...OUTSIDE, LHS and OUTSIDE, RHS.

Which is why, gentle peruser, in a spasm of inconceivable 'sang froid' I managed to fit them inside out and back to front.  By a fortunate chance of extreme good fortune (and the good luck fairies were definitely perched both shoulders) I noticed half-way through that something didn't look quite right as the doors are almost, but not quite identical, inside and out.

It wasn't too late to save them, but as a man on a horse said in 1815 after a particularly epoch changing event..."it has been a damned nice thing - the nearest run thing you ever saw in your whole life"

09 March 2013



One of those detestable bloody adjectives that seem to have crept into the English Language and used to describe almost anything that another adjective won't adequately describe.

"...had an awesome curry last night" or "Mind Boggling Aliens from the Planet Zoog on PS Nintnedo is a really awesome computer game"

You get the drift...people with this sort of mastery of the spoken word really do need to get out more and smell the coffee!

To put it into context, there are few things in this life that are truly 'awesome'.  Standing on top of the Hoover Dam and looking down is one.  Standing at the bottom of the Great Pyramid of Giza and looking up is another.  Standing on the Great Wall of China and looking to the left and right is a third.

In the rarefied and 'niche' world of contemporary modern furniture, the Queens Jubilee Cabinet, commissioned in 1977 is one of those very few pieces that can accurately be described as 'awesome'.

This fall-front ladies writing cabinet was designed by Edward Barnsley at the request of The Lord Reilly and is on loan the the Trust.  It's currently displayed in the Workshop Cottage, where I had the privilege to see it at the recent Open Day at the Barnsley Workshop.

It's made from specially selected English Walnut that had been drying since just after the end of WWII and incorporates solid, 'feather' grained panels...

...ebony and holly inlay and a tooled leather writing surface.  The interior compartments are made of English Oak with Cedar of Lebanon lined drawers and it was made by George Taylor, Oscar Dawson and Mark Nicholas.

It took a total of 900 hours to make.

Look, click on the images and be suitably 'awed'...

04 March 2013

Secret Compartment, Two

Herewith another view of the centre drawer, but if you look very carefully at the rear set of dovetails, they don't look quite right...one of the pins is a bit narrow.  Another one of my innumerable cock -ups because it should have been made a bit wider as the secret keyway:

...slides back to reveal a small 4mm hole and the insertion of...

...suitable finger pressure on a specially designed steel pin...

...reveals another hidden compartment cunningly concealed within the dovetail.  Those eagle-eyed perusers of this missive who spotted that the drawer front looked a little thick can without doubt polish their halo's a little more.  Those who didn't ought shuffle to the back of the room in shame...

Technically speaking, a drawer front should be around 18mm but in order to make a reasonably sized space within the compartment (which happens to be 10mm) I had to make the front 20mm thick but that in itself caused a problem as it only left 2mm thickness to rout out a thin mortise for the handle.

The overall result isn't too bad and was quite an interesting exercise in making these sorts of secret compartments.