Thursday, October 18, 2007

Meet the Corner Cabinet

I think it's time I showed everyone this corner cabinet that I've mentioned several times. And while I'm at it, I'll talk a little about the design process for this particular project. About a year ago, my wife approached me and asked me to build a cabinet that would stand in a corner of our dining room. Currently, one of the chairs from our dining room set sits there, and has a wicker basket sitting on it. In this basket are various bags of chips & Cheese Doodles snacks for the kids. She wanted the cabinet to hide all of these snacks, which have actually spilled onto the floor next to the chair. So I began designing a cabinet. I felt the cabinet needed to match our china cabinet and the rest of the dining room set. The dining room set was purchased from Macy's 10 years ago, after we bought our house. The set is in the Mission style and is made from what I think is white oak, though it could be red oak. I decided initially that I wanted to make this set from white oak, which is the traditional choice for Mission style furniture. I wasn't too worried about the wood choice & the price of the materials at this point, though. I just wanted to establish the dimensions & joinery to be used, knowing I was going to use white oak when the time came to purchase the materials. I also wanted to produce something that would have decent proportions & look good on paper. When I designed the cabinet, I determined that all of the moldings I'd use on it would have to match the moldings on the china cabinet I used as a model. Other dimensions, such as the length of the arches in the top door & the base molding, would be scaled based upon the width I wanted the parts to be. I also incorporated various design elements on the original, such as the decorative grooves cut in the door panels. Here's what I came up with:
This is the corner cabinet from the front. The cabinet has six sides. Three sides will be visible from the front and three will be in the corner. The cabinet will come out about 2 feet from the corner, where a narrow side 6" wide comes out from each wall at a right angle. A long side then joins these two short sides together. And each cabinet has a single doors made about as wide as I thought I could made them.

Here is the cabinet from the right side. Here you can clearly see that the cabinet is made up of two carcases, one on top of the other. I did this for weight reasons; the lighter pieces are easier to move. Each cabinet sits on three legs made up of glued up pieces of poplar. The legs won't be visible & needn't be made from oak, since the poplar will easily be able to support the weight.

The base cabinet will have three pieces of oak mitered to form a "top" overhang. The upper cabinet will have a quarter round molding that will sit on top of this "top". The idea is to give the appearance that the two cabinets are one by hiding the seam between them.

And here it is from the left side. I wanted to show a picture of the china cabinet on which I modeled this cabinet, but I can't get a good shot right now. I'll try again another day when there's more light. The base cabinet will have leveling feet installed in its legs. Because the cabinet will sit in a corner of a room that's wall-to-wall carpeted, I wanted to be able to compensate for the tack strips in the corner & keep the cabinet level. The drawings were made using Google Sketchup. This is a free program that does 3D drawings. It's not a full blown CAD program, but it's a great tool for doing what are essentially three dimensional sketches using the computer. You can be as accurate with your dimensions as you want. Highly recommended. I decided that I would make all of the parts that would be in the front of the cabinet out of solid oak. These parts are the most visible parts and I want them to match. The parts that back up against the wall will be made out of oak plywood. The plywood would be stable (that is, plywood does not change width or length when the humidity changes) and so I wouldn't have to worry about wood movement for those parts. Also, since the inside parts would be visible only when the doors were opened, the ply only needs to have one good face. I also determined that the height & spacing of the interior shelves would be adjustable using shelf pins, and that I would make them from oak ply with solid oak edging rabbeted to the front edge. This would hide the plywood edges & give the impression that the whole piece was made from solid oak. So that's the cabinet! Next time, we'll talk more about the cut list.

1 comment:

Neil....a Furnitologist said...

Hi Tony...

I read your posts over at Woodnet. Like your writing style. I'll be checking back.