Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Corner Cabinet with Coopered Doors in Mahogany

This piece although rather plain and simple looking was a real challenge in construction. It’s made from solid Mahogany for a corner Cabinet space. The piece had to be custom fit to the space due to the corner not being 90 degrees.
The doors are coopered, another challenge in cabinet construction but rewarding when properly built. The grain that naturally occurs in Mahogany is a real pleasure to re-match once the panel is cut and beveled in the coopering process and once glued back together make for a seamless fit. James Krenov' book "A Cabinetmakers Notebook" has a great chapter on making coopered doors. The sides and top are attached using dowels as well as some mechanical fasteners. The interior has three non-adjustable shelves.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Krenov Smoothing Plane

One fine day last year I was surfing around the net and came across the James Krenov Direct website. I had stumbled over it before and once again was admiring the pics of his work there. To my surprise I read that James no longer was building his cabinets due to his poor eye sight but was still making his wooden bodied hand planes. There was some contact information on the web site for anyone interested in purchasing one. I immediately wrote a quick note expressing my interest in a plane and also my sympathies to hear about his failing eyesight. I left it at that and within a few days I heard back from Mr. Krenov himself. He said he had "the plane for me! " I think another two to three weeks passed and then a shoe box came in the mail. My new James Krenov smoothing plane. I was like a kid at Christmas time. I couldn't wait to get it out and into a nice piece of hardwood. When I opened the box and placed the plane in my hand it was a perfect match. It was not the first wooden plane I've held or used, but it was by far the most comfortable. It just feels right in your hand. My wife commented on the look of the tool and mentioned that it was easy to tell Mr. Krenovs eye sight was failing.! So yeah, perhaps to the untrained eye it may look a little 'rough' but that's part of the charm. It's all about the feel right.?
Well looks aside, when I finally put it to work it didn't disappoint. It surpassed all expectations and became my main smoothing plane. Funny, when things are not going great and you're kind of fighting with a certain piece of wood...perhaps some reversing grain and you're looking over at the wood stove and looking back at the wood your fighting to control tear out with...this tool wins every time. I've since made a Krenov style plane and have studied the one I ordered....no chance....not even close...I don't know why the Krenov works so well? I can't tell what is done to make it perfectly chatter free..I can't replicate the throat opening or the irregular shape of the body...only one mans hands can and I'd be interested to see if he has made any two alike.I guess its just one of life's sweet mysteries...he is indeed a master craftsman we can all learn and draw inspiration from.
If you'd like to see an interview with James Krenov discussing his plane making go to:

Mahogany Wall Shelf

It's Monday morning and I just finished this small wall shelf over the weekend. It's body and interior drawer are African Mahogany, the drawer front is Flame Birch and the runners are made of Rosewood. I wanted to try to incorporate the sliding drawer rails into a piece so this was more or less an experiment. Kind of a Modern look with traditional joinery.

I'm happy how it turned out. The dovetails were a bit of a challenge due to the thickness of the Mahogany. The Birch for the drawer front is known as Flame Birch and has a real figured grain. Lots of shimmer. This adds to the difficulty of the piece due to the reversing grain pattern that create the Flame look. A cabinet scraper was the tool for the job. The finish is a hand rubbed wax.