Friday, January 22, 2010

Buffet Hutch - Part six - Doors and Wood Movement

This is a continuation of the posts:

Buffet Hutch - Part one - Drawing up the plans
Part two - Same style different finish
Part three - The buffet face frame
Part four - The buffet sides and web frames
Part five - Drawers

It's time for the doors, but first... more lecturing!

*** those of you that paint wood furniture might want to take note of this***

Did I ever mention that wood moves?  I am in a climate where it is dry in the cold winter and humid in the hot summer.  This means that anything made out of wood that sits in my house will change in width (across a board) from being smaller in the winter when it's dry, to being wider in the summer when it's damp.  So many people do not know this.  I wonder why?

Wood you buy from a reputable source, that is to be used for furniture making, will be kiln dried to an amount that will make the wood move less indoors.  Construction lumber is not kiln dried to the same amount, since it is mostly attached behind walls and with strong nails to keep it firmly in place.  Drying wood costs more, so not drying to this stage saves money for the home owner. Although it can cause walls to be a bit warped in places, people put up with it.  Furniture is a different story.  Most people do not want their chairs or tables or beds to crack and warp.

Standard five-piece door:

Often doors on cabinets will be made in what is called five-piece.  This means there is a four piece frame around the outside of the panel. The frame consists of  horizontal top and bottom pieces, the rails, and vertical side pieces, the stiles.  Sitting inside the frame is a panel.  This is often glued up from a few pieces of wood, and floating.  Floating means that the panel sits inside a groove in the frame and is loose enough to be able to expand and contract with the seasons.  If it fits tightly in the groove, the panel and/or the rails and stiles will crack as the panel expands. This is why it is so important to take wood movement into account when you are designing and making furniture. One way around this is to have the middle panel made out of plywood.  Plywood does not change over time because it is not solid wood, rather a glued together combination of pieces of wood in thin layers.

So, for my door, I wanted something a little different that wasn't one panel but four pieces that would make the middle section of the door look like the original inspiration piece:

This is something I came up with myself.  Not to say it hasn't been done before, but I hadn't seen it.  The rails have a tongue on each end that fits into the groove of the stiles, and the rails are also grooved on their inside edges to hold the panel pieces.
Top view of the frame:

The middle section is four pieces that fit together side-by-side with tongues and grooves.  On the outer edges, there is a tongue that fits into the groove of the rails and stiles... so along two sides and all the top and bottom edges. This gives each piece a chance to move.  And we all know how important that is!

Closeup of panel pieces:

The door parts:

The frame parts are 3/4" thick and the middle panel pieces are 1/2". This allows the middle to sit recessed from the frame.

  On the back, the middle panel area sits level with the frame.

Now, since we know that wood moves ;) a good woodworker will first finish the pieces in the panel, before gluing it all together, so that when it shrinks, you will not see raw wood on the tongues.  That being said, although I did finish the pieces on the stained doors of my second buffet, I purposely did NOT finish the pieces on my milk-painted buffet hutch doors before I glued them together.  The reason for that is that whole piece is heavily distressed and banged up, so it's supposed to look like it's old and has been around for awhile.

Sorry for the poor photo quality but here's my door as originally finished:

And guess what, it HAS shrunk, just to prove that I am right about wood movement, here's a photo I just took today in our dry winter climate.  You can see definite gaps between the panel pieces in a few places, but the one between the third and fourth vertical panel pieces is 1/8" wide.  There is also more space now around the door where it fits into the face frame.

Hopefully this made some sense as to the importance of being educated about wood movement.

Continue on to:  Part seven - Designing the Hutch

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Buffet Hutch - Part five - Drawers

Is anybody still reading this?  I haven't got any comments since the first post, so I don't really know.  Hopefully a few of you will throw me a cookie!

This is a continuation of the posts:

Buffet Hutch - Part one - Drawing up the plans
Part two - Same style different finish
Part three - The buffet face frame
Part four - The buffet sides and web frames

It's time to work on the drawers, which will fit into the spaces created by the face frame.  I recommend not to cut your parts to any type of exact measurements until you have the face frame on, then you can measure the area you have to work with.  The drawers need to fit with about 3/32" between the frame and the drawer, to allow the drawer to slide in and out and to allow for any wood movement. If you are in a dry environment in the winter and a humid one in the summer, such as I am, you may wish to leave just a bit more or less depending on the time of year you build your furniture.

So, with the 3/32" on each side of the drawer, you make your drawer front width 3/16" less than the size of the opening. The same principle is applied to the height of the drawer.

I am using an applied face for these drawers.  That means I first make a box for the drawer and then add a face to the front of it.  The applied face covers the box joints which join together the drawer sides to the box front., so remember to leave room for the extra width of the drawer face when you are determining the length of your drawers. My box joints are made on the table saw with a dado blade and are 1/2" wide and just over 1/2" deep.  You can see how I do box joints here where I used them for plywood boxes.

The bottom is 1/4" pine plywood which fits into a groove in the front and side pieces.  The back fits into a dado cut into the sides, 1/2" from the back, and sits on top of the drawer bottom.
The drawers are sanded to make the fingers of the box joints smooth, and a few coats of shellac are painted on.  The face will be added later.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Buffet Hutch - Part four- The buffet sides and web frames

This is a continuation of the posts:

Buffet Hutch - Part one - Drawing up the plans
Part two - Same style different finish
Part three - The buffet face frame

Now that we have the face frame, we need the rest of the buffet base to add it on to.
There are two sides and a back and bottom, plus two web frames.

Web frames are horizontal dividers that hold the drawers.  You will regularly see web frames in an older style dresser or chest-of-drawers. Newer furniture often uses either a plywood divider or just side rails for the drawers to sit on. The frame is just that, it's shaped like a frame, not solid and allows the drawers to sit on something.  It also gives rigidity to the piece and allows for wood movement.  I am going to put a web frame at the top to hold the top on and also one below the drawers. Each web frame is 5 pieces I have used 3/4" thick pine.  The front, rear and side rails are all 2" wide, the middle rail is 3 1/2" wide.  Each end of the side and middle rails has a tongue that fits into a groove in the front and back rails. A few photos might help here.

Web frame being glued up: 

Here you can see the tongue and groove that holds the frame together:

These frames will fit into the sides, they won't be nailed there.  Nailing through the sides would not only look terrible, it would not give any strength to the piece.  The web frames will fit into a groove (dado) cut into the sides to hold them in place.

Now on to with the sides, which I have made out of pine-veneered particle core.  You could also use pine-veneered plywood, which I might use next time.  The plywood is lighter, but also has the tendency to warp, and I couldn't find a good supply of it locally.

As I said earlier, the sides are dadoed to let the frames sit into them.  The dadoes are at the proper height to allow the face frame and web frame to line up so that the drawer can slide in and sit on it.  The bottom of the face frame drawer opening must hit the top of the web frame (this is why you don't make up all your parts first and why you need to be accurate to 1/32").

  Here you can see where the web frame inside meets the face frame:

So I will need a 3/4" wide groove at the top and then another one approx. 7" down from the top to fit the two web frames into.

Also I am putting in a bottom of pine PC, so I need a dado to hold that as well.  My pine PC is 11/16" thick, so that dado is equally 11/16" to hold the bottom piece.

A groove is needed down the back edge for the ply back, which is 1/4" thick.  So this is what the right side piece will look like, don't forget that the left side will be a mirror image and not the same.  (Immediately to the right of this diagram is a side view image.)

For the inside of my buffet I used a few coats of shellac and put the coats on before I glued the pieces together.  This makes things go together much easier, because it's hard to get into corners when it's all glued together.  In woodworking you really do have to think a few steps ahead.

We can then glue up the base with the two sides, two web frames and bottom piece.  I leave the back off for now so that I can put the shelf inside first. Unfortunately I didn't take photos of this process, but I'll try and create something basic using the Paint program that I've been using for these crude sketches.  As I said earlier, I draw  most of my creations by hand.

Note: this is not to scale, and poorly done, but I hope it gives some idea of what you will have this far.

An important note.  My face frame clips over the sides, as I've explained earlier.  So it doesn't just butt up to the side edges, it goes over them. This means the web frames and bottom piece have to sit back 3/8" from the side edges so that the web frames will butt up to them.  I hope this isn't too confusing.  Here comes another sketch...

 Ok, enough for today.  Next we will work on the drawers and doors.  Please feel free to ask questions, I will reply below the messages.

Continue on to:  Part five - Drawers

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Buffet Hutch - Part three- The buffet face frame

This is a continuation of the posts:

Buffet Hutch - Part one - Drawing up the plans
Part two - Same style different finish

Before I start, I should explain why there are two Buffet Hutches.  In woodworking, a lot of time is spent in setting up tools to the precise measurements needed for each particular piece of wood needed.  Table saw blades are set to height and their fences are set for the width of parts needed.  Routers need to have different bits and those have to be set to height.  When in a table, the router often needs a fence to work with it, and it too needs to be precisely set.  There are other tools like this as well, and this all the setting up takes time.  Each piece may need a different setup at the saw or on the router table.  So... I try and make two or three of a project so that the setups can be used for more parts at the same time. This is similar to the advantages of assembly line work, although I am not making hundreds or thousands of things.  So, I made the parts for two Buffet Hutches, one which I painted and the other I stained.

Here's the basic sketch.  The sizes are not exact.  I work to 1/32" so more precise figures will come about after some of the parts are made.  I am not including here all the measurements for the pieces as I think that is more than anyone wants (plus it might make a good book chapter some day)

Once you have the basic sketch you need to break down into parts. I am starting with the base, the buffet part.

What I do is make a cutting list.  This is a list of all the parts needed for a project.  It includes the name of the part, the quantity, the type of wood and the width, length and thickness of the wood.  It also describes what machining needs to be done to the part.

Starting with the buffet, with the drawers and doors not included there are 15 different parts.  To further break it down, there are two sides, a bottom, a shelf, a base molding, two interior web frames (that the drawers sit between), and a face frame (the area that the drawers and doors sit in).

I plane up my parts to correct thickness but not to precise widths and lengths at the start, depending on the piece in question.  All the face frame and door parts that are 2" wide will be made and cut to width at once, but not to their lengths.  I always make more than I need because often you will either make a mistake (that rarely happens to me!) or you find a knot or split or defect in the wood.

Let's start with the face frame, which is 5 parts:

Tenon and mortise drawing:

 The top and middle horizontal pieces need tenons on both of their ends, as do the two lower middle vertical pieces. When figuring out the lengths of these pieces you need to remember to add the length of the tenons on each end.  I make the tenons on the table saw using a dado blade but first I make the mortises that they will go into using the router and the appropriate bit.  For these mortises I used a 3/8" router bit. The tenon then can be made precisely to size to fit the mortise hole. It is not difficult to shave a bit off the tenon if it is too thick, it's much harder to make the mortise wider. (The bottom center tenon will fit into the bottom of the buffet, so that mortise will be make later). I also get an oval hole with the router bit so I just shave off the corners of the tenon with a sharp chisel.

In college we made our face frames to fit over the sides of the carcase (base piece).  A dado is run down the back of the face frame vertical pieces in a way that they fit precisely over the width of the sides.  This makes an easier way to glue and fit your pieces but it is extra work and your measurements must be exact or else the piece won't fit on.  Also, you must take this into account when figuring out your measurements, because the side pieces of the carcase will extend into the face frame. Being good at, and enjoy mathematics certainly helps the whole process.  I love math!

Here's the face frame from the back:

I really don't think I took many photos of the build, I'll have to go and search my files for some before the next post.

*New pics added to show tenons and mortises*


Stick with me please...

Continue on to:  Part four - The buffet sides and web frames

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Buffet Hutch - Part two- Same style different finish

This is a continuation of the post:    

Just in case anyone prefers the stained look as opposed to the painted look, here's the hutch done in stained (American Colonial by Flecto Varathane)l pine (please forgive me for the background, it's in my shop and the walls aren't finished yet)


Okay, tomorrow I will get back to the drawing to get the parts for the buffet figured out.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Buffet Hutch - Part one- Drawing up the plans

I have rough pine and I am going to make a buffet hutch.

This was my inspiration for the piece that I wanted to make. I found this photo in a book about Country things.  I really loved the bottom section (what I will call the buffet) but while I loved the backboard on the top (hutch), I didn't like the curved sides of it and the unfinished looking top edge.

Inspiration photo from the book "Glorious Country" (Lorenz Books):

So, to make the design, I got out a ruler to measure the original photo, in order to get the correct dimensions for the buffet doors and drawers, and the height of the whole piece.  I prefer using a pencil and paper, and not the computer. First I decided on 2" wide stiles and rails for the whole frame of the buffet, around the drawers and doors, as well as the door frame parts.

From there, I measured the photo to see the how wide the frame pieces were there.  The door frames in the photo measure out to 1/4", that means every 1/4" in the photo is 2" in actual (real) size.  So my scale is 1/4" = 2", which means 1/8" = 1".  From there on I measured all the parts on the photo (the doors, drawers, whole height, width, etc.) to get the sizes of the other parts.

I didn't have a side view photo, so I just went with sizes that seemed to match with the front.  The sides are basically plain, so I just needed to get a depth of the buffet that would be appropriate.

Here's the lecturing part:

There is a way to make things, and a way to make things that will last.  This piece is designed to last with important facts taken into account.

Wood moves.

Wood.    Moves.

Depending on the season and climate, wood can and does change size.  Wood in a dry environment shrinks and in a humid environment expands. This change takes place widthwise, not in the length of a piece of wood, and is due to the internal structure of wood.   Wood pieces that are placed side by side against each other and attached to something or pieces that are trapped in a frame will crack or warp. Table tops made of solid wood cannot simply be screwed down.
Did I mention that wood moves?

Also please note that lumber is not made for furniture.  2 x 4s are not kiln dried to the water content that wood for furniture is. Have you ever sat a 2 x 4 in your house for a few days?  It usually will end up looking like a hockey stick.  Lumber is not made for furniture.

Wood has end grain that doesn't accept screws or nails well.  End grain is weak.

Wood can be joined in many ways.  I don't like butt joints. They usually involve end grain to long grain.  Here is a butt joint: 

You can see, if you nail the two pieces together, you will be nailing into the end grain of the piece on the right and there will be no strength there. Here is another butt joint that won't last if it's just nailed and glued:

Butt joints are okay for making small crafts, frames, and for places where there is no stress on a piece, or it is just there for decoration.  Some people use dowels to reinforce the joint, many now use pocket screws. People use these methods either because they don't know the proper ways or because it's quick and easy.  It just doesn't make good furniture.

Joinery has to be decided so that it takes into account wood movement as well as proper practices that will result in stable, long lasting furniture.

My buffet will have mortise and tenon joinery on the frames. Here's a sample of one:
The tenon comes from the horizontal piece and fits into a matching mortise (hole) in the vertical piece.  It is glued in place and will last a long, long time.

Okay back to the design...

The buffet part will have two drawers, two doors and an interior shelf.  It will be solid pine except for the sides and bottom which are pine veneered particle board (I need something stable for the buffet and this type of board does not move with the seasons) and the back which is pine veneered plywood.

The top hutch part will have two fixed shelves, shiplapped back boards and a top with cove molding.

I have decided to show the finished project and then will make some blogs to explain the making of it. i didn't think it would take so much blogging but after writing all the above I realize this is going to take a few posts.

Here's the finished buffet hutch that I made:



I really hope that most of you will stick with me to see the steps of how I designed, made and painted this.

Continue on to:  Part two - Same style difference finish

I'm linking up to the Hutch Party at Jennifer Rizzo
and Show and Tell at Blue Cricket Design 
and Funky Junk Interiors