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Thread: Building an Oak Display Case and Related Tasks

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

    Building an Oak Display Case and Related Tasks

    (part 1 of 3)

    I built my wife Margaret a display case for her birthday on January 1st. I used plans from the book “Display Cases You Can Build” by Danny Proulx (ISBN: 1-55870-606-2) and followed them quite closely. The main difference was that I used dowels in places where Danny advocated biscuits and in others where he advocated mortise and tenon joins. Another difference is that I used 10mm glass for the shelves and 5mm glass in the doors where he suggested 6mm for shelves and 3mm for doors.

    Here are some notes extracted from my weekly journal:

    2007 Dec 30:

    Christmas has come and gone and now I am rushing to get the core part of Margaret’s main birthday present finished. As usual, I left things to the last minute and, this time, the last minute was too late.

    On Saturday, after our return from London, I started work on the carcass of the oak display cabinet. The carcass is completely made of sheet goods. In the picture below, the back (made of nominal ½ inch red oak veneer) is being trimmed to size using a guided circular saw:

    Attachment 17599

    Here, shelf support holes are being drilled into a side (made of nominal ¾ inch red oak plywood) using a home-made template:

    Attachment 17600

    And next dados and rabbets are being routed into the sides using a guided router:

    Attachment 17601

    2008 Jan 6:

    I actually finished construction of the carcass Tuesday morning (just in time). Here are a couple of pictures, the first showing the glue up with 18 clamps of the back and the second showing what I ended up presenting to Margaret:

    Attachment 17602 Attachment 17603

    Well, actually I first presented this picture:

    Attachment 17604

    simulating the finished cabinet in our hall, then I took her to the shop and showed her the real thing as so far as it has been built.
    Cheers, Frank

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
    (part 2 of 3)

    Later in the week I attached a partial a solid oak face frame to the plywood carcass. 32 dowels spread over 13 feet had to be in the right place for a single glue-up. They were in the right place and the face frame fit very well.

    Attachment 17612

    I have a couple things to say about the face frame shown in the earlier photo. First of all it is not a complete face frame because both the top and bottom rails are missing. I was too much of a wimp to attempt to attach those as well as the stiles to the carcass in one BIG glue-up. So, I added them later. This necessitated connecting the rails to the styles with something other than dowels. Hidden pocket holes proved to handle this job very well, as shown in a photo below of the back side of a rail drilled with both pocket holes and dowel holes.

    Attachment 17605

    The other thing is that the plans did not call for the middle cross-piece. I felt it was needed in order to keep cabinet sides in alignment. The cross piece attaches to the stiles with two dowels at each joint. That appears to be very strong and has convinced me to construct the door frame using dowels rather than mortise and tenons.

    Another change that I made was to add a couple of extra pieces at the bottom back to sit on the floor and distribute the weight better. The photo below shows then being glued into place.

    Attachment 17606

    Of course, they were later screwed as well.

    2008 Jan 13:

    The hall cabinet, without a door, is now in the hall. Finishing it to this stage took less time than I expected it to but changing electrical outlets and circuits took a LOT more time than I expected it to. I inserted
    Brass sleeves (116 of them) into all the shelf support holes (as shown in the picture below). This adds to the professional look of the cabinet and makes it much easier remove and insert the support paddles.

    Attachment 17607

    The picture below shows three 12 volt lights being installed at the top of the cabinet.

    Attachment 17608

    An electrical receptacle was needed behind the cabinet. The closest source of electricity was above the washing machine. The hall light switch was in the position where the receptacle was needed and, since it would be blocked, it had to be moved. All this required a work on three different circuits and the installation of wire and boxes. So here was the ‘game’ plan:
    -Move the switch in the hall to the Laundry Room just inside the doorway (as one of a gang of 3 switches),
    -Tap into the receptacle behind the washing machine and run a line to the previous location of the switch in the hall,
    -Connect a switch to the new receptacle in the hall (as one of the gang),
    -While I am at it, pigtail all the aluminum wiring in the boxes.
    It sounds easy and it would have been except that I needed to cut into the walls to access wire and install boxes. This made a below shows holes in the Laundry Room wall part way through the work. The second one shows that some progress has been made. Things are operational again, but there are still holes to be dealt with. I will probably make a small shelf to cover them.

    Attachment 17613 Attachment 17611

    There was a really big hole around the new receptacle in the hall, so I made this big plate to cover it out of plywood.

    Attachment 17610

    It looks very strange but will be hidden by the cabinet.
    Cheers, Frank

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
    (part 3 of 3)

    2008 Jan 20:

    This week, I finished and installed the door for the hall cabinet. The cabinet looks good, but I can’t seem to get a good picture of it becuase of reflection off the glass. I have tried lighting of different kins and here are the best pictures of a bad lot:

    Attachment 17615 Attachment 17616 Attachment 17617

    I am happy with the job on the cabinet. It’s really only the second piece of fine furniture that I have made –the first being Terry West’s TV cabinet a couple of years ago. The bedside cabinet that I made for our guest room three years ago came close –but I screwed up the top.

    I also made a shelf to cover up the remainder of the holes in the laundry room:

    Attachment 17614
    Cheers, Frank

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Southern Louisiana
    very nice frank, im sure she is pleased with your work.

    nicely documented as well


  5. #5
    Great looking case, and thanks for the good play by play of the process .

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Nicely done, Frank. Thanks for documenting it for us. I'd say you're getting good use of your new Dowelmax.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Floydada, Tx
    Once again you get a gold star. Well documented and exacuted. I am sure the wife is happy with it.

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