When the door pieces are ready, assemble the doors, again being careful not to use too much glue on the joints. Clamp up the doors and determine if the doors are square by measuring corner to corner. The distance should be the same in both directions. If not, adjust the door by tightening a clamp diagonally across the longer length. When everything is square, tighten the clamps and set the doors aside for the glue to cure.
When the doors are ready, take them to your saw and cut a 3/8″ x 1/2″ rabbet on the two interior edges to form a shiplap joint to keep the dust out. Then head to the jointer and trim them to size, allowing a 1/16″ gap all the way around the doors. When fitting the doors, run the top and bottom of the doors over the jointer first, as the end grain on the ends of the stiles may tear out. By running the long grain edges last, you should be able to clean up any tear-out on the stiles.
With the doors fit, go ahead and mount the doors in the face frame. I used 2-1/2″ non-mortise butt hinges (see schedule). They look good, are easy to attach and are adjustable. When the doors are attached, take them off again to make it easier to glue up the cabinet.
Cabinet: Dadoes and Nails
You’re now ready to make the cabinet itself. All the cabinet pieces are made of solid lumber on this piece to keep it reproduction quality. The center shelf, top and bottom are fit into 1/4″-deep by 3/4″-wide dadoes in the sides. Use the diagrams to locate the dadoes. The sides of the cabinet have 3/8″ x 1/2″ rabbets run on the inside edges for the back. Cut the dadoes, then glue and nail the top, bottom and center shelf between the sides.
After assembling the case, lay it on its back and glue and clamp the face frame to the cabinet. Check for square, and make sure the overhang on the sides is even. When the glue is dry, I simply remove the clamps and use a flush-cutting router bit to trim the face frame flush to the sides. I used a 1/2″ hardwood beaded shiplap back for this piece. The number of back slats is up to you. They can be random widths, or they can all be the same. I cut a 1/4″ x 1/2″ rabbet on the slat sides, then add a 1/4″ bead on one edge using a beading bit in my router table. Don’t attach the back yet, as it’ll only make finishing more difficult. Set the pieces aside for now.
Shaker furniture is known for its lack of ornamentation, but the Shakers still had a sense of style. Style for this cabinet requires a crown moulding. Cut the moulding pieces to the sizes given in the materials list. Set your table saw blade to a 45° angle and bevel one long edge of the moulding piece. Then move to your jointer, adjust the fence to 45° and run the sharp bevel edge of the moulding over the jointer to leave 1/4″ flat on the moulding’s edge. Repeat the entire process on the opposite edge.
Fit and cut the crown pieces to length, then glue and nail them to the case. On the side pieces I only glue the first 8″ of the moulding and attach the back end with a screw through a slotted hole in the case. This allows the sides of the case to move during humidity changes without tearing the crown moulding off. I use small triangular glue blocks behind the crown moulding to support the crown. Next cut the 1/2″ cap pieces to length, mitering them to overhang the crown by 1/4″, then attach them to the case as well.
A Simple Base
You’re almost done. To give the case a base (and to make it sit on an uneven floor without rocking) I used a jigsaw to cut out a pattern on the bottom of the face frame and the sides of the piece, essentially leaving legs. Drill the holes for the shelf pins. Then cut slots for ventilation in the back pieces, and holes through the shelves to pass wires.
The next to last step was finishing. I used a coat of dark oak stain over the entire piece and then applied three coats of semi-gloss spray lacquer.
All that’s left is the hardware. You can use whatever you find attractive. I used a couple of turned pulls and added a stop rail behind the doors (at the top of the cabinet). A couple of bullet catches and I was ready to deliver it to the customer. Of course it’ll take them another two days to get all the equipment hooked up and arranged the way they want it. PW
Troy Sexton is a contributing editor for Popular Woodworking.