Cabinet Construction

Of the three springtime building projects, this cabinet was the first to get done. The stairs down into the pond pump and filter vault needed to be concealed, and I thought a cabinet would both be functional and aesthetic.

Starting in May, I bought some redwood lumber to supplement the scrap pieces that I already had. The frame went up very quickly. This is based on a sketch I drafted, where the front tilts in 3° and the sides angle at 6°.

The next task was in making the cabinet doors. For the panels, I decided rip the lumber to get half the width and then inset these into frames. The table saw dado blade accomplished this task.

Making drawers was the most rewarding part. I’ve never put together drawers, but for these, I decided to make half-blind dovetail joints for the front, with the face slanting in at 3° to match the cabinet face. The sides were made of pine. I cut the groove for the drawer bottom and dovetailed in supporting struts.

The most challenging part was installing wooden drawer runners. These traditional elements, with bevels, proved to have a very low tolerance for error. A little off, and the drawers get jammed.

The whole cabinet was stained with dark walnut, coated with spar outdoor polyurethane, and rubbed out with paste wax.

I found traditional Chinese hardware for the drawer handles, cabinet pulls, and hinges.

The tabletop had to hinge open for stairway access into the pump house vault. I choose concealed Soss hinges. For the tabletop boards, I randomized the pattern so that the opening hinge would be less obvious.

After final coats of spar urethane and wax, the cabinet is finally finished after two months of work, complementing the pond-side gazebo while providing storage space.

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