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    Part II: Build a Shaker Wall Cabinet






    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    Finish off this Shaker cabinet by adding a decorative arch to the top and building a solid door that won't cup over time

    In the first installment of our plan for building a simple Shaker wall cabinet, we built the basic cabinet box, added a back and shelf, and applied two vertical face frame members to the front of the cabinet. Now in part II, we'll pick up where we left off. And be sure to check back next week for our final installment on applying an antiqued milk paint finish!

    In this installment, we'll begin by adding the outer top and bottom pieces. Remember, to simplify construction, we built the basic box using butt joints reinforced with biscuits. If you were to leave the cabinet as-is at this point, you'd see ugly end grain on the tops of those long cabinet sides. By adding an additional false top and bottom, you'll cover that end grain, and effectively extend the top and bottom in width and height, allowing you to add a nice decorative roundover that adds a great deal to the cabinet's design.

    With the top and bottom complete, we'll turn our attention to building a super-simple door that's reinforced with horizontal battens that will keep it straight as an arrow (no cupping, please) for the long-haul.

    Finally, we'll tackle a tricky decorative arc for the top--complete with a traditional Shaker peg hole. It involves some seemingly-tough layout, but when you break it down, step-by-step, it's really not so tough. So let's get building!

    Follow the Entire Project Series

    Shaker Cabinet Breaks the Rules
    Build a Shaker Wall Cabinet, Step-by-Step
    Part II: Build a Shaker Wall Cabinet


    How to Make

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Pieces: The top and bottom pieces are of the same 1/2-in.-thick stock you used for the rest of the cabinet. They each measure in at 13-1/2-in. by 6-1/4-in. Begin by cutting these pieces to final size. Attach a roundover bit to your router and clamp your piece down. You're going to roundover the front edge and the two sides, but not the back. In this photo, Lisa has clamped down the workpiece in preparation for routing of the end grain. She'll make the pass, turn the piece 180-degrees, and roundover the other end as well.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 2: Roundover the Long Front Edge: Now roundover the long edge. In this way, you're long edge grain pass will cover up any tearout you may have experienced after routing the two end grain sides. This is a prime nugget of woodworking router wisdom!

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 3: Drill Your Pilot Holes for Top/Bottom Attachment: The outer top/bottom pieces will be attached with glue and screws. Normally, this wouldn't be a good idea, since the two pieces of wood would be under considerable pressure to expand and contract. However, since we're gluing poplar-to-poplar, these two pieces will expand and contract at the same rate with no problems. Use a forstener bit to drill a shallow plug hole (you can purchase wooden plugs at your local home center, or make your own if you've got the skills!). Then, follow up with a pilot hole for your screws, centered in those plug holes (photo-right). I drilled holes for four screws in the top, and four screws in the bottom.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 4: Cut a Recess into the Top Piece: Our arched top piece is going to fit into a recess cut into the top of the cabinet, so before attaching the top and bottom pieces to the cabinet box, we'll cut the slot first. I've highlighted the waste that needs to be removed in this photo.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 5: Trace the Recess: Begin by temporarily attaching the top to the cabinet and tracing the outline of the back onto the top piece. This is the matrial you'll be cutting out in order for the arched top to be fit in, later on.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 6: Cut the Recess: This is a two-step process. First, I made a few kerf cuts on the tablesaw in order to have square ends to my slot. Then I followed up with a router and a straight-cutting bit to finish off the entire cut. I simply clamped a straight edge down and ran my router's base along it.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 7: Glue on the Top and Bottom Pieces: Apply an even coat of glue to the top and bottom of the cabinet. Of course, you'll want to do these one at a time.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 8: Clamp the Top/Bottom Pieces into Place: Now just clamp on the top and bottom pieces. Notice how I'm using a piece of scrap wood underneath my clamps. This prevents the cabinet from getting marred by the clamps. Now just allow the glue to dry while you put your screws into place. Remember, there are four screws in the top, and four screws in the bottom.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 9: Glue in Your Plugs: Apply glue to your plug holes and cover your screws using wooden plugs.Once the glue dries, you can go back and trim these plugs flush using a block plane and some sandpaper.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 10: Glue Up the Door: The final door will measure approximately 10-in. in width by 18-in. in height. I simply glued two pieces of 5-in.-wide poplar to make my door blank. Use clamps to hold the joint tight, and remember to make your blank just a bit oversize. You can always trim it down for a precise fit later.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 11: Clamp Up Your Door: I used three clamps to hold the two pieces together, but I also placed a few clamps (highlighted in the photo) directly over the seam on either end of the door. This ensures that the pieces are flush with one another for a perfectly flat door blank.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 12: Rout Dadoes for the Battens: The two horizontal battens that really make this door solid are glued into dadoes I cut with a router. Using a straight-cutting bit and a guide clamped to my workpiece, I routed two 1/4-in.-deep dadoes. Each dado begins exactly 4-1/2-in. from either end of the door. The dadoes are 1-5/8-in.-wide. I used a 1/2-in. router bit so I had to readjust my fence to make the dadoes wide enough for the battens. Just be sure to use a combination square to layout these joints.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 13: Chamfer Your Battens: For a more finished look, I chamfered all four top edges of my battens. You could do this on a router table--if you have one--but I just used my block plane. It took a while, but it worked quite well. Just be sure you do the end grain first, then follow up with the longer edge grain chamfers. Another option would be to cut a chamfer using your handheld router on a long piece of stock before cutting it to final length. You could tackle both long edges this way but not the end grain, though. Food for thought.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 14: Glue in Your Battens: Glue and clamp your battens into place.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 15: Marking for an Arc: OK, this may seem tricky, but it's really not that bad. Begin with a piece of 1/2-in. thick poplar that's 7-in. wide and approximately 18-in. long. Square-up one end on the tablesaw or using a circular saw and square. Now, draw a square cut line at the 13-1/2-in. mark.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 16: Marking for an Arc: The material to the right of your line will be cut away later on. Let's concentrate on the actual business-end of this workpiece for now. Draw a center line in the ... you guessed it ... center of the "workpiece." In this case, that'd be a line drawn down the width of the board, exactly 6-3/4-in. from the left (squared) end.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 17: Marking for an Arc: Mark for notches to be cut away on both lower corners of the bottom of the arched top. These notches will allow the piece to slide right into the back, in between the two cabinet sides. Be sure to transfer the marks down along the edge of the board as well. You'll be cutting a rabbet along the bottom edge of this piece later on, causing the marks to disappear from the top surface.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 18: Marking for an Arc: Make a tick mark 2-1/2-in. up from the beginning of your notch (see photo) on either side of the workpiece. Next, grab something flexible with which you can make an arc to scribe onto the workpiece and make a tick mark on the center of that item. In my case, I used a piece of flexible plastic that was 36-in. long, so made a mark at the half-way point (18-in.) Align that tick mark with the center point of your workpiece (number 1 in photo). Now flex the piece until it aligns with the tick marks you made at the 2-1/2-in. mark on either side of the workpiece earlier (number 2 in photo). You might need an extra set of hands to trace the curved profile!

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 19: Cut the Arched Top Piece to Size: Crosscut the top piece to it's final length.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 20: Cut a Rabbet into the Arched Top Piece: If you were to try and slip the arched top into the cabinet back at this point, that 1/2-in. thick arch would be too thick, and when mounting to a wall, you'd notice that the arch would rest flat on the wall, but the rest of the cabinet would hang proud. To solve this problem, cut a 2-in.-wide rabbet along the bottom end of the workpiece. The rabbet should be 3/16-in.-deep. Again, clamp down a straight edge to your workpiece and use a straight-cutting bit on your handheld router.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 21: Cut Out the Notches: Now with your rabbet cut (see photo), you can go ahead and cut away those notches your marked out back in step 17. We used a bandsaw, but you could use a jig saw or a good old-fashioned hand saw.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 22: Cut the Arched Top: Now cut the arc out of the top. We used a bandsaw and ran the blade just outside the pencil line we made when laying out the cut. You could also use a jigsaw for this cut.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 23: Refine the Arch: Use a spokeshave to smooth out the rough cut left by the bandsaw. Remember, when using this tool, you always want to be cutting "downhill," to prevent tearout (see arrows in photo). Follow up with a sanding block to further refine the edge. If you don't own a spokeshave, this could all be done with successively finer grits of sandpaper. Try beginning with 100-grit and working your way up through 220-grit in this case.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 24: Drill Your Peg Hole: The Shakers would almost always hang cabinets like these on pegs. So in keeping with tradition, we drilled a 1-in. diameter hole in our arched top. Then we followed up with a half-round file and sandpaper to round the edges of the hole over, in keeping with the roundovers on the top and bottom of the cabinet.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 25: Glue on the Arched Top: Apply glue to the arched top piece. Be sure to apply it to the face which will attach to the cabinet's back, as well as the edge which will come in contact with the top of the cabinet.

    Step 1: Roundover the Ends of the Outer Top and Bottom Piecesclick to enlarge

    Step 26: Glue on the Arched Top: Clamp the assembly together. For even clamping pressure, we used a large caul (basically just a piece of scrap wood) beneath the two smaller clamps that hold the arched piece to the cabinet back. That's it! Step back and admire your work. In the third and final installment of our Shaker cabinet project (look for it next week), we'll cap it all off with an antiqued milk paint finish. Be sure to check back!



    Ed_Pirnik