Corner display case

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30 May 2018
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Long post:-
I'm intending to build a glass fronted corner display case. I've done some woodworking from time to time but not done it frequently enough to really hone my skills. (I've read lots, though! :) ) Nevertheless I want to tackle this project. I have a good quantity of Oak which I can prepare to suitable sizes and lengths from broken up old furniture. I have the tools, the bench, and the time.
My design has a single front door 400 mm wide and about 700 mm high. The sides come out at 90° from the walls of the house for 100 millimeters and then meet the front at an angle of 45° (or 225° if you prefer.) Both sides and the front door are glazed.
There will probably be three glass shelves above the bottom. The style will be plain and simple - something between Shaker and Krenov if that makes sense.
I want the minimum of wood getting in the way of seeing the contents, but obviously the cupboard needs to be strong enough to carry the weight of the china and other ornaments/objects on display. What sizes of wood for the base frame, the sides and the door frames would be suitable, do you think? I would probably choose to dowel the frames together, although I appreciate that mortise and tenon would be the classic joint to use.
I was considering a French cleat (well, one on each wall) to support the cupboard and should I consider supporting brackets underneath also?
I'm sorry this is a long and complicated question but some general guidance would be very useful to me, thanks.
Krenov used dowels in his cabinets.

I’m not sure that French Cleats are a great idea for this. I’d put an oak batten on each wall that it could sit on and secure the top to the wall with a couple of brass hanging brackets.

It’s difficult to envisage your design but I would expect a top and bottom at 18mm and the rest using 13mm stock would be a good place to start.
Krenov used dowels in his cabinets.

I’m not sure that French Cleats are a great idea for this. I’d put an oak batten on each wall that it could sit on and secure the top to the wall with a couple of brass hanging brackets.

It’s difficult to envisage your design but I would expect a top and bottom at 18mm and the rest using 13mm stock would be a good place to start.
Krenov - indeed coincidentally I was reading his hints and tips on dowelling last night!
If you can be bothered I like to know why you don't think the french cleats suit, but I've no problem with brackets.
Stock of 18mm and 13mm x how much were you thinking?

Something like this, but a bit less depth to the base structure - where I'lm putting teh main strength; both sides and front glazed.
French Cleats take up space and may be awkward if the walls are not at an exact right angle.

Looking at your design I see that you plan to glaze the side pieces between the door and wall and these are 100mm wide. That means the frame will need to be quite narrow.

Have you thought through how the door will be housed and hinged?
Couple of thoughts, it has nice proportions which means it isn’t very tall! I remember those horrible things.
It sounds like it’s going to be permanently fitted, in which case you could continue the skirting across the front? Probably not if the room skirting is painted.
As was said the returns at 100mm aren’t going to give you much glass.
The sections of the uprights of the fixed parts don’t need to be all that big as they’re in compression.
Try to position the door catch level with the handle, it helps prevent the door twisting and flexing, this allows smaller sections for the door frame.
Try to buy in all hinges catches and shelf supports before you start, this stops all sorts of problems before they appear, damhik.
so yu cpuld do something
like this?

Picked up the cabinet from an estate sale, retouched the finish, mounted the plumb-bobs, and put in our den....took my wife a week or two before she noticed!


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No Blackswanwood, I hadn't thought things through much at all! :rolleyes: But now I've worked on it, how about this:
B is the part of the (bottom) frame with the front i.e. the door over it.
I think I will have the sides wider, also.

And bottom of drawing below, is a plan view of the join of B and C
Upper, is the front view, (and I drew the edge of the upright carrying the hinge incorrectly. Moves to the L. )


Top will mirror the bottom, with uprights dovetailed into the horizontal frame.
Ian, It's going to be hanging (in a corner, obs) on the wall, more or less head height. :)
That's why I'm obsessing about it being strong enough. (Not that it'll have a lot of weight.)
Nice tips on getting the hardware, and positioning.
Can I simply position the door between the uprights and the top adn bottom frames, I don'lt see why not.
More radically, I'm toying with just using magnets facing each other in the upright and the door frame to stop the door going beyond closing into the cabinet.
The softwood version is complete and was useful for me and client (wife!) . Dimensions have changed slightly as a result to make the sides 200mm, which results in the central door breing about 300 wide.
So I plan (as above) a structural horizontal frame top and bottom, linked by the 5 verticals.
The two backs will sit on battens on the wall and the top and bottom front edges (above and below the glazing) are strong [e.g. bottom 40-50 x 20mm oak]
I propose a single dovetail joint [c.15w x 8mm deep] at each end of the verticals across the front. Will this be strong enough? Without any brackets underneath?
Would a cam-lock fixing [as favoured by IKEA] be a better choice? Will I get thrown out of this forum for suggesting such a thing.? :)
Not totally following to be honest, but have you considered having the top and bottom cut out of solid timber with the 5 uprights mortised into them?
No, I hadn't considerd using one piece, and it's a good option. But I want to connect top and bottom securely so teh weight on teh bottom is properly supported [remember it's hanging on the wall]. That's why the dovetails, for vertical strength.
And of course the easy answer to that is to stand it on batons (which could be concealed in the thickness of the base. Best of luck with your build.
I'm on a steep learning curve, but making progress.
I've learnt that dowelling together pieces cut at an angle of 22.5° and making them fit neatly is beyond my abilities!
But biscuits will do.
There's a lot of detailed setting up before you can make neat dovetails, even with my Woodrat 600, particularly when [again] some joints are pieces that are cut at 22.5°
These are the top and bottom front frames, so far. Stock is reclaimed oak, occasional nail holes add character!
There will be four verticals dovetailed into these to connect them with a door set into the centre.


That’s an unconventional use of biscuits and I’m not convinced it will give the joint any significant structural integrity.

I’d have approached it by making each face, planing each vertical edge to the required angle and then using biscuits to attach each face to the top and bottom of the cabinet.

There are however many ways to achieve the same outcome with woodworking so my way may not be best!

Good luck with the build.
You might want to consider the weight of the glass in the door. Glaziers will say you must have 3mm glass which is very heavy and at certain angles will give a green tinge. Antique cabinets use 2mm glass, you will still get a green tinge when viewed from certain angles but it will be reduced. If you want quality glass without a tinge you will need picture frame glass which is much more expensive. Have you thought about how the door is going to be held in the closed position, lock and key, ball catch, thumb turn or magnetic catch, the dimensions of you door frame will probably dictate which you use. It might be an idea to go along to your local auction house and have a look at antique ones, there are always plenty coming up for sale and they will give you a good feel for how 'light' you can go on the construction.
I'm doing a quick and dirty version in softwood to see how it all will go together. Will update at some point. :)
How about getting some t+g flooring and mockup out if that the groove is ideal for simple glazing. I've made book libraries in that fashion.
I would take a different approach to your method, by using vertical corner "stiles" the full height of the cabinet, they will need to machined/beveled to suit the corner angle, with mortice and tenons on the rails connecting to them.

It is a method I use when I've made them, as in this example (not mine):

oak glass cupboard.png

This is how I have constructed similar cupboards:

corner cupboard.jpg

Exploded detail:

corner cupboard exp.jpg

Plan section of bottom rails and stiles:

corner cupboard plan.jpg
Not so different to mine then, except that my stiles dovetail into my rails.
My joints are tricky (they are certainly challenging me!) but those look even more so.
I've been pondering the issue of the glazing, and am considering [deep breath] using acrylic or polycarbonate sheets [approx half the weight of glass].
Is there a practical reason this isn't done more often? Is it just a case of 'oh no, I don't want that!' Clearly [ :) ] glass is harder/scratch-proof, but I don't really see that as an issue.
in addition to being easier to scratch, and not as clear (though perspex (acetate) is better than polycarbonate in this regard, the plastics are much less stiff than the glass. If you imagine your glazed panel were made of ply, then glass would be stiffer, and plastic floppier (for the same thickness)
So think about how much of the stiffness of your door comes from the frame, and how much from the glass (which depends a bit on the design, and also how well you make it). It may or may not be an issue for you, but it's worth considering. hth.