This project can be built with a table saw, a router and a few hand tools. Construction is straightforward. The panels are glued into 1/8″-deep grooves in the corner posts. The bottom is screwed to the sides through cleats.
Begin by gluing up any panels you’ll need for the sides and trimming all the other parts to size. When your panels are ready, cut out the handle and the small lift on the bottom of each. I did this by first making a plywood template of the cutout and the arch. I made the template by making plung cuts intoa piece of plywood with my table saw, using the fence to control where the edges were. You also can make the template with a jigsaw.
I then used a pattern-cutting bit in my router to cut the two shapes. When your panels are complete, turn your attention to the posts.
The most important aspect of the posts is to make sure you center the 1/8″-deep by 1/2″-wide grooves that receive the panels. I made the stop cuts using a dado stack in my table saw and then squared up the tops using a chisel. When your posts are milled, sand everything and begin assembly. The best way to go about this is to first glue up two side assemblies conisting of two posts and a side panel. When those are dry, glue the two remianing sides into the assmblies and clamp.
Now attach the bottom. When you screw the cleats to the sides and to the bottom piece, be sure to make the screw holes in the cleats in the shape of an elongated oval. This will allow for wood movement. Disassemble everything and then finish. I used Moser’s Light Sheraton Mahogany dye (available from Woodworker’s Supply 800-645-9292, item #W13304, $11.90 for four ounces of powder). Then I added a coat of clear finish, sanded it and applied a coat of warm brown glaze, which is available at professional paint stores. After allowing that to dry overnight, I added two more coats of a clear finish. PW
Christopher Schwarz is a senior editor for Popular Woodworking.