Furniture and Cabinetry

Some pics of furniture and cabinetry done over the years, in no particular order.


A butcher block, made in about 1983.  It is made of solid rock maple blocks, end grain up, glued with a two-part waterproof resorcinol glue.  The top is 24 x 21, 10 inches thick, and must weigh close to 100 pounds.  I remember hauling the four wide 8/4 hard maple boards for the top balanced on my Triumph TR6 with the top down. 

This is also the first project of mine that drew serious blood.  A mishap with a rotary planer attachment sent me to the ER for stitches to my left hand.

It is finished with danish oil everywhere but the top surface, which gets regular saturations with mineral oil.  The top has absorbed quarts of the stuff over the years.

Butcher Block


 Credenza, about 1977.  This was my first real furniture project.  It started as a coffee table with just the top and two end slabs.  I later made it into a cabinet with the glass doors.  It held stereo equipment and records for years.  I was just learning about different woods, so the slabs are each just glued up laminations of 4/4 oak, ash, birch, lauan, and walnut.  The entire thing was made with a circular saw, a hand drill, and a router.  The finish is some kind of tung oil finish.



Segment Tables.  I've made maybe three or four of these trapezoidal tables over the last 15 years or so.  We have a few places in the house where upholsered chairs are set at an angle to each other.  These side tables are designed to fit the angle.   Most of them have a curved back like the a segment of an arc.  This one is done in black walnut with a maple string inlay.



Traditional weaver's bench, about 1998.  Bonnie got into weaving some years ago, and a folding chair didn't work that well.  The design is copied from a number of traditional examples.  The seat is a beautiful piece of 5/4 cherry.  The rest is cherry with some black walnut accents.



Nightstand & desk.  I actually made six of the nightstands shown, but two of them were for the standards for the desk at the right.  This nightstand and desk were for our son Scott's room.  The drawerfront design is one I've used quite a bit.  It's realy just a raised panel that matches those on the sides, but without a frame.  I don't add pulls, but route a relief in the bottom edge large enough for a finger grip.  The wood on these pieces is white oak, but the desk top is made from burr oak felled and milled on our property.  Finish is a hand rubbed tung oil/spar varnish blend.

I'm pretty selective when it comes to making frame and panels like the sides of these pieces.  I like the panels to be a single piece, and will usually cut them from the same board for panels that are one above the other like these.  This gives a pleasing grain continuity from top to bottom.  Also, I prefer flat-sawn grain for panels, but try to use something closer to quarter sawn for frames.  I rarely buy actual quartersawn stock, though.

A lot of homework didn't get done on that desk.

Night Stand Desk

A couple of other simpler pieces in Scott's room.  An open bookcase, and a ladder to the loft above the closet, both of white oak.  The ladder rungs are round, and were turned from regular stock.  They are fixed with contrasting walnut wedges in a round through tenons.  Whie oak is the theme of this room as can be surmised by the trim and the site-built door.

Bookcase Ladder


Built-in bookcases and cabinets, about 1995.  These are of black walnut.  Many of the walnut pieces I built were made from wood I bought from a trophy company in Omaha.  They advertised a pallet load of nearly 1000 board feet for a few hundred dollars.  They apparently buy large quantities of rough walnut and after thickness planing, if there are still any saw marks on a board, they put it aside to sell cheap.  There was some sapwood, too, but with some creative layout, I was able to eventually use most of the wood.  It was a helluva deal.

It's hard to see in the picture, but the panels in the cabinet doors are each made up of two pairs of bookmatched slats.  The camera flash does wierd things to the way the grain looks.

Each of the 22 shelves has a white oak accent strip on the front edge.  It looks really nice, but was born of necessity:  I thought the shelves needed to be at least 1-inch thick, but much of the walnut I had was lucky to plane out to 3/4.  I took the opportunity to use some of the walnut with the deepest saw marks, planed it down to 1/2, and used two thicknesses with the 1/8-inch accent to make 1-1/8-inch thick shelves.

The curves at the top of each bay are mathematically correct parabolas.



 "Greenhouse" cabinets, about 1998.  Our house is a passive solar design, and there is a room on the south side with a lot of windows facing south.  There are also large windows between the greenhouse and the main living area.  This room, which we call the greenhouse, is not heated by the furnace, but the large masonry surfaces absorb heat from the sun, keeping the space relatively comfortable.  Temps inthe room do swing fairly widely, but rarely get below about 50 deg F, so we keep a lot of outdoor plants in there over the winter.  They get lots of sun, and seem to like the varying temperature.

Bonnie wanted a convenient area to tend the plants, so we planned out this work area.

The rest of the trim in the room was already cedar, so it made sense to carry the theme into the cabinets.  Not normally thought of as a cabinet wood, cedar worked out well, and blends into the room better than most other choices would have.  All of the cedar in the cabinets was selected from common construction grade lumber, so the price was right, too.  Since I didn't need many large pieces, it was fairly easy to work around the many knots and other defects in low-grade boards.

Cedar comes naturally in a wide range of colors from medium brown to very light.  By selecting stock for the frames from darker boards, and the panel material from lighter ones, I was able to get a pleasing contrast from a single species.  The panels are made from bookmatched pairs of 1/4-inch slats.

The counter top is a true end-grain butcherblock construction.  It's made up of almost 700 individual blocks of 8/4 rock maple, glued up with waterproof plastic resin glue.  There are two slabs totaling abut 11 lineal feet and almost 3 inches thick.

The under-mounted copper sink was home-made from 48-ounce copper sheet bent around a purpose-built form and soldered.  The faucets were bought as chrome-plated brass, but we stripped the chrome off and copper plated them to match.



 Hidden Computer Desk, maybe 2001.

 I made built-in work surfaces and cabinetry in my home office, and the computer and printer are normally stowed out of sight. 

(The only slight problem was that, due to a small miscalculation, the width of the bay for the PC was a very tight fit for the narrowest PC case I could find.  I had to make a PC chassis to fit it.) 

Desk Desk Desk

Desk Desk Desk


The trim in my home office is reclaimed mahogany.  I got it free from a guy who had it stored in the loft of his garage.  It came with his house when he bought it.  The previous owner told him it was salvaged from a mansion in the "Gold Coast" area of Omaha.  I got it in about 1982, and we figured it was over 100 years old then.  The wood varies from a rich red-brown to almost maroon even when cut or planed--not the salmony color of new mahogany.

This is a built-in Credenza that fits in a wall nook.  There is a thin maple accent strip on the edge of the top, and the doors are book-matched to each other.  The top has inset black granite squares.



The panel pattern on the credenza doors is picked up by the entry door and the two other doors in the room--one to a bathroom, and the other to a small room with an electronics bench.  Not in keeping with the mahogany theme is the drawing board--not used much now--built of white oak in about 1982.  By the time I came to build these full sized doors, I was running short of the salvaged mahogany, and had to buy some new material to finish them.  The new mahogany, while similar in grain, was much lighter in color.  I resorted to a chemical treatment on the new wood to hasten the natural darkening process.  It's pretty low-tech--just a dilute sodium hydroxide solution applied directly to the wood.  It really worked well.

Credenza Office


The rest of the cabinets inthe office.  The whiteboard is a standard commercial one with the plain aluminum frame replaced with a mahogany one.



The bathroom off the office has a big walkin shower and a vanity with curved doors.  I did the curve mostly for the challenge.