Monday, November 29, 2010

Medicine Cabinet

The last cabinet in the master cabin is the medicine cabinet that resides over the sink. The medicine cabinet is a basic cabinet with solid sides, a ply back, and a frame and panel door. I've yet to assemble the door although I have all the parts cut and milled. I was going to have a mirror made, then use the mirror as a panel and permanently install it the same way as one would install a panel. That method is probably not such a wise idea so I think I'll have a mirror made, then use clips to hold it against the panel. When the mirror gets broken, it will be a simple matter to get a new one.

I wanted to add some interest to the medicine cabinet so for the side of the cabinet everyone will see, I chose a piece of highly figured wood. The piece I used came from the crotch of the tree and has a lot of interesting, flame like grain. To add a little more detail to a pretty basic piece, I decided to use dovetails to join the case parts.

I hand cut the dovetails vs using a jig to machine them with a router. I like the look of hand cut dovetails, and given the time it takes to set up a jig, it's just as fast to hand cut the joint.

All the measuring is done by using a marking gauge, a square to transfer lines, and eyeball judgement. I use a pencil to mark the tails, and a awl to scribe the lines for the pins. I use a dovetail saw to make the vertical cuts, then use a chisel to chop out the waste leaving my lines. I use my chisel as a layout tool to mark the ends of the pins. By using that chisel as a dimension, I know the chisel will fit in the joint making chopping a breeze. Speaking of making chisel work a breeze, I kind of think a chisel is useless unless it's sharp enough to shave hair off of ones arm. When sharpening my chisels and planes, I start with an oil stone, then finish the task using Japanese water stones. The last stone I use puts a mirror finish on the edge. I don't have a strop, but I will use the side of my leather work boot to finish the edge. A nice sharp chisel makes a great sound as you use it to pare away a few thousandths of hard wood.

I could have picked an easier piece of wood to hand dovetail. The highly figured wood comes with price in that it's extremely dense with no rhyme or reason to how the grain runs. A razor sharp chisel is a crucial piece to the puzzle of getting this small job done without wasting ones time.

The weather is starting to go downhill so I'm expecting work to start slowing down in the next few weeks. I'd like to be finished with the bulk of the master cabin within the next four weeks, and to be honest with you, I think that's doable. I'm kind of down to punch out type jobs and wrapping up some loose ends, so given that to do list, I think I'll put in another order for the rest of the plywood to finish the hallway, head, and kids bunk room.

My goal is to have the wood work for all the rooms complete by the time spring hits. I've started to put a dent in my stock pile of cherry lumber, and while I think I have enough to complete the Salon, I'm getting a little nervous. Now that the sap is down in our trees, I have five or six nice cherry's I think I'm going to harvest. One of the trees is going to be nothing but curly grain, and I think I'll use that to build the panel doors for the galley cabinets and the panels for the wheel house helm. I'll be needing that lumber by next winter, so I might need to do something drastic like building a small solar kiln to speed things up.

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