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


  1. I cannot WAIT for more!

    You're my today's hot find. Right now. I'm going this minute to put it up. :)


  2. Oh, I'll be here! I love your piece so much more than the inspiration. Gotta love those nice clean lines, especially on the top of the hutch (very substantial, and the sides of the hutch.

  3. You are the master and I am the student. Can't wait for more.

  4. Great post and that hutch looks fabulous. I will definitely be back to check out your blog more often.

  5. Wow. That is incredible. I want to be you when I grow up!

  6. WOW WOW AND WOW,,, I dream of having talent like that. The hutch is beautiful! Cant wait to see how you did it.

  7. Oh, I love that!! I really need one of those. I am in awe of your skills.

  8. I am beyond impressed! What a beautiful result! Thanks for linking!

  9. Wonderful job. It looks like you've got that moving wood under control. I especially like the back slats.

  10. CANT WAIT! I'll be checking back!

    Jennie @ Cinnaberry Suite

  11. Holy Smokes! You are AMAZING! What a talent you have. You're in my neck of the woods, maybe I can get some lessons? lol
    BEAUTIFUL work.

  12. AMAZING! What a beautiful hutch!!

  13. Wow, that's so pretty, great job!!!!!

  14. Amazing job! It would take me eternity to build that!

  15. Wow...I'm amazed!! That is beautiful!

  16. Found you through Blue Cricket.... and wow, I'm so glad that I did. I would really like to learn how to create with wood, and reading your blog is just the motivation to get some books or take some classes... thank you so much for such good commentary, pictures and diagrams - it really decreases the fear and intimidation factor that has stopped me from even trying in the past! Thank you :)

  17. I CAN'T WAIT to see how you built that! I've been wanting a hutch for a while now, and my husband has just recently started building furniture, so I may have to add this to my list of things I want him to build!
    Your hutch is beautiful! LOVE it!!

  18. Ok, Julie. Can you just come to my house and build things for me? I have a very nice workshop with lots of tools! Acually, my hubby is a wood worker, but he's so busy that I have been waiting 2 years for built-ins. This hutch is a great piece.

  19. Wow, you are so talented! That IS awesome! Lisa

  20. I linked you in a post.
    just FYI...
    Welcome to the blog world!

  21. You are so talented! Thank you for sharing! I have to say it is AMAZING!

  22. ...dang, girl...YOU are talented! Great work!


I appreciate all your comments, they keep me blogging! I like to personally reply to each comment I receive but many of you are "no-reply commenters" which means your email address is not connected to your comment. If that is the case I cannot directly reply, sorry.