I chuckle to myself every time I build one of these cabinets for a customer. A Shaker entertainment center. Now that’s an oxymoron. But everybody loves Shaker and everyone needs an entertainment center these days. So who am I to argue?
As cabinet construction goes, this is about as basic as it gets, and it still offers old-world joinery, styling and strength. The entire piece is solid lumber, using a face-frame front and a shiplapped back. The raised-panel doors are held together with mortise-and-tenon joinery, and the crown moulding is all simple cuts on the table saw and jointer.
I start construction on face-frame cabinets by making the face frame first. All the other pieces will be sized to fit the frame, so it just makes sense to begin there. Also, the width of the face frame’s stiles are 1/16″ wider than shown in the drawing. This will allow you to trim them flush to the case after assembly.
There are a number of ways to fasten a face frame together, but when I’m making a piece of furniture that has the potential to be moved every so often I prefer the strongest joint I can think of — mortise and tenon. That’s because if it’s moving it’s racking. While a strong back will help keep the cabinet from racking, the face frame does most of the work. In addition, if the piece is a reproduction, like the one here, it’s appropriate to use a mortise-and-tenon frame.
I prefer to cut the tenons on the ends of the rails first, then use the tenons to lay out the mortises on the stiles. Set up your table saw to cut the 3/8″ x 1″-long tenons, centered on both ends of the top and bottom rails. Then set up your mortiser to cut the mating mortises, setting your depth to 11/16″ to avoid having the tenon bottom out in the mortise.
Once the mortises and tenons are cut, assemble the frame by putting glue in the mortises. Don’t overdo it; glue can keep the tenon from seating properly in the mortise. After the glue is dry, I pin the joints using 3/8″-square stock.
Since I’m already set up for making mortise-and-tenon joints, I go ahead and make the doors next. The doors are basic frame-and-panel construction using raised panels with an 8° bevel on the front face. Determine the size of the doors by making them exactly the size of the opening in the face frame. We’ll trim them to fit later.
Before cutting the joints for the doors I make the groove in the rails and stiles for the raised panels. These grooves are 3/8″ x 3/8″ and are centered on the inside edge of each piece, with both edges of the center rails receiving a groove. After the grooves are run, start making the tenons on each end of the rails. Make the tenons and mortises the same size as you used for the face frame. Because the panel groove was run through the ends of each stile, the tenons on the top and bottom rails need to be haunched (the tenon shoulder is left wider to fill the notch left by the groove).
Next mark the locations for the mortises at the locations shown in the diagrams, and cut the mortises in the stiles.
The panels themselves are cut to size allowing 1/2″ extra in both height and width to fit into the grooves in the door frame. With the panels sized, set your table saw blade to an 8° angle. Then set the rip fence to bevel the faces of the panels. The distance between the fence and blade should be set so that the bevel is about 3/8″ thick, 1/4″ in from each edge.