Monday, December 5, 2011

wam cabinet building process

 after going through all the sketches and sketch models of our designs and a meeting with Tommy and Jonathan, we started with making a scaled model of our design at that point. We discussed that we would use dado jointing to hold the cabinet pieces together, and a european style front, so the doors would have no frame. After this decision, we thought the doors should open all the way up to the top to enhance the curve. This brought the curve aspect into the doors while they are opened. Our original design began with one large door and one small door to go along with the curve. We ended up having to leave out the uneven doors because the museum was concerned about the length of the larger door. After the presentation to the museum and the final design decision, we were beginning to purchase the materials to build the cabinet. This model was helpful in representing our design ideas in the presentation, but it was not useful in our production of the cabinet. No jointing was considered, so when started the first day we were very lost and cut joints that were too complicated for our skill level. I think it would have been more helpful if we had also created models of different jointing options and further considered the ways we wanted to have the pieces of the cabinet fit together, as well as detailed dimensioned drawings including jointing before we had gotten to the building process. We also should have considered how the  top was going to attach in exactly, how the door shelves would be bolted into the doors, and mostly everything about how everything would work. Our poor planing and lack of knowledge of the jointing we planned to use led to incorrect dimensions on files sent to the router because the positioning of the pieces along with connection to other pieces had not been considered.

 After overly-complicated dado joints had been cut into the sides, the back would not fit into the joints. Hailey and I felt relief when we were able to re-cut the joints into a simpler dado where the entire back piece fits into the side pieces. This is the first time the back piece successfully was squared and fit into the side pieces! Then, we began the construction of the bottom section of the cabinet by counter-sinking and screwing side and back dadoed piece into the bottom piece. We decided to have a 1/8" lip on both sides of the bottom of the cabinet and also the bottom of the top section where the drawer connects to the top half. In the back this lip is 1/4". We did this so that the joints would be cleaner and the horizontal layers of wood create sections. Also, it seemed like a nice small detail that is nice to look at up close. 

Then, we made the drawer that goes inside of the bottom section of the cabinet also by screwing the side and back pieces into the bottom. Then, we created a drawer stop on the bottom of the drawer and bottom of the cabinet so that the drawer cannot come out too far. There are wooden tracks we added in the bottom of the drawer for the drawer to slide on.

After the construction of the drawer, we made L pieces to make a connection in the side corners  of both side pieces of the bottom section to connect the bottom section with the top, and also the back piece to add extra stability. I counter-sunk and pre drilled into all of these pieces, so that way when I had to climb inside of the cabinet to drill the screws in, it would be less difficult.

We marked out shelf brackets and measured them from back and front to make them level, then attached the shelf slots with glue and a nail gun while matt worked on getting the top curve piece ready to put in.

After deciding on wood shelves, Matt and I cut a few shelves; two from 1/2" wood, and one from 3/4" wood, which is the top shelve attached to the cabinet to provide extra stability. The other shelves are removable.
I put on a coat of the finish and after letting it dry, I sanded the cabinet by hand because I did not have a hand sander in the studio upstairs. After I put a second coat of the finish on, I realized how much smoother the finish and wood were after using an electric sander that Hailey brought. This is how we got the wood to feel soft and not splinter.

Hailey screws in the door shelves and final top acrylic piece and the cabinet is almost finished!  
The acrylic top is on and the acrylic for the door shelves is attached and the cabinet is finally done. 

This is a close view of how the light reflects off of the acrylic door shelves and comes through the handle 

These are some more photographs of the light that comes through the handles and the acrylic top when the light comes through the window.

 This pictures shows the detail in wood material and the assembly of the door shelves.

An up-close shows the reflections in the acrylic top and the door hinges. These hinges were made for 3/4" wood, and our doors were 1/2", so the hinges could not be bored into the door 1/2" without being seen through the front, so I decided to cut another strip of 1/2" wood to attach with glue, and a pattern of screws to increase the thickness to 1" thick. The hinges were not able to wrap all the way around at this thickness because there was an extra 1/4" added to the material than what these hinges were made for, so i used the router to route out the shape of the circular drilled piece to 3/4" deep, and the metal piece that screws into the door at 1/4" deep, so the entire hinge was inset an extra 1/4" to counteract the added thickness. This allowed our doors to go all the way back to be flush with the sides.

This picture that i could not get to rotate, shows detail in the knots and texture in the front of the cabinet with the doors closed, and the curves of the handle and drawer face. Our drawer face had been cut too small when it was sent to the router, so we re-cut it by hand using the dimensions from the bottom of the cabinet to the middle of the horizontal piece under the doors to leave a small gap at the top, so the layers can be seen and also to create space between the drawer and the doors. 

After completing this project, i realized that i really enjoy building things and working with different materials. one of my favorite parts of building is figuring out a way to make it all go together. looking back on the project, the main think i wish we had done differently was instead of only saying what kind of joints we are doing or how pieces are coming on, but actually drawing and building how they would go together and researching other ways to connect things because when you go to put the pieces together, they don't just simply come together the way they are supposed to. it takes a lot of attention to detail, practice, and research to come up with the best idea for jointing and get it to go together. this would have relieved a great deal of stress during the building process.  This project was very challenging, which i enjoy because although it was extremely hard work, i feel that i have accomplished and learned a lot from it. i have learned many skills about planning and woodworking tools that i plan on using on my own time as well as on other studio projects. i feel inspired by this project and i am excited to move on in this program and work on other projects.

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