Oak Sideboard / Media Centre - Long Term Project

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Sawdust=manglitter

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So i’ve shamefully had this project on the go since 2017!! So far this is by far the largest and most complicated thing i’ve made (or am still making).

It’s all traditional joinery and largely made of solid oak. The doors have solid Oak Burr floating panels which are framed with African Blackwood, and the hinges are also African Blackwood (with bronze bushings and stainless pins). The handles will also be African Backwood once they’re made.

From the very start this has been a very educating project, i’ve learnt many new skills and also learnt what i will or wont be doing again in future. Many mistakes were made, but i’ve also learnt how to fix them which is a very useful skill to have.

Although i’ve not kept track, there must be a good 300hrs in the project so far!! A very busy life, loads of work to do on the house and many other smaller projects to do in between is why this has taken me so long to chip away at. Shamefully, there must have been a couple of years since the carcass was complete and it was brought in the house and in use before i even started on the doors... but i want it finished now and whenever i get a chance i have slowly been chipping away at it since then.

Anyway, there are way too many photos to post and many steps where i didnt even take photos. I wont be describing what’s going on in each photo as it would take me way too much time, so i’ll just post a bunch of photos in the rough order they were taken.

(Please also excuse the messy workshop in the background... organised chaos just like my work desk :D)

First up is a photo of my car loaded up with most of the oak used on the project. It was a hairy drive home to say the least.

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And this is the only sketch i have of the design, the rest was all in my head. The dimensions were a rough guide only, i use relative dimensioning more often than not.

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The boss wanted a thick looking top to compliment a couple of oak side tables we already have in the living room, so i used

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The top is not that wide, so i just did one long mortice for the breadboard ends, and after a good couple of years in the house it’s held up well.

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The below photo shows various parts rough cut to length after planing.

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Gluing up solid panels/shelves.

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Gluing up the bottom.

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Sawdust=manglitter

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This is the main frame with the top and base loose fit. And i already know that the top rail didnt need to be so deep... live and learn :)

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Some of the side and rear panels resawed and planed.

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This is a dryfit of the centre portion of the carcass. And the side panels. All of the innards are fixed into sliding dovetails.

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These side rails are set in place to allow for a sliding dovetail for the shelves. (Also used my home made

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Dry fit of shelves in place.

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A couple of coats of finish ready.

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Dry fit of back panels.

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Dry fit of drawer rails too.

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Sawdust=manglitter

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This was the most stressful glueups i’ve ever endured!! I pre glued as much as i could separately, but a lot of the main carcass needed to be glued at the same time... it was a panicked nightmare!! I also glued it up in the house (to the OH’s dismay) as workshop was too cold at the time.

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The sliding dovetails are all exposed, and unfortunately some werent as tight as others. In hindsight i would do it a little differently next time. I used some Konig hard wax to cover up the worst gaps, and in the end it looks ok until looked at very closely

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Due to the top being different thicknesses the buttons had to be a little unusual, and i know i went a little OTT with the number of them, but they worked well.

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This is the main carcass having had a couple of additional coats of oil following glueup

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Sawdust=manglitter

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These are the buttons laid out roughly on the top, ready to

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And buttons in place.

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This is the top and the breadboard ends in place.


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And this is (shamefully) how the full cabinet has been left for a good couple of years!

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So now on to the doors. I was lucky enough to get hold of a rather large Oak Burr. My bandsaw has a maximum resaw depth of cut of around 12”, so i cut the burr down to enable a resaw cut on the bandsaw. I cut off two slices approximately 1/2” thick, which after a year of fully drying and acclimatising were flattened to a thickness of 10mm. And as they were cut from the same burr they are bookmatched.

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Here is a mocked up door.

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And these are the panes following flattening and sanding.

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Sawdust=manglitter

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The mortice and tenons are cut and the door frames are cut and dry fit together with the burr panels in place.

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and following glue up, this is one of the doors with the long strips of African Blackwood to frame the burr

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Now coming to the hinges. I decided to give it a go making wooden hinges, but after much contemplation and making a mock-up out of ash i wanted to avoid any possible squeaking and try to minimise any wear of wood to wood rubbing surfaces, so the only thing i could think of was to use bronze bushings, which not only make a much smoother motion but the bronze bushings are the only moving faces that are in contact. So fingers crossed they will last many more decades than just wood on wood hinges.

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The hinges will be mortices into both the carcass and the doors. Following further shaping, lots of hand sanding, and buffing...

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Jameshow

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Nice!

You lost me when you started on wooden hinges - this guys in another league was my thought!!

Cheers James
 

Sawdust=manglitter

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So far, i’ve morticed the hinges into the carcass, but have yet to mortice them into the doors. Note that the steel sticking out the bottoms are purposely too long before permanent fitting. One side has an exposed hole which will have an african blackwood plug glued in place. Note that the hinges probably took around 4 days work to get them to this point! A lot of work, but i’ve very happy with them.

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For the next step i’ve got the doors shimmed in place to get the exact placement of the hinges.

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This is currently where i’m up to so far. Lots more to do though :D
 

MARK.B.

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Great stuff , the work in the hinges alone is well worth the effort they look awesome.
The Burr panels at 10mm sound plenty thick enough ,but how will they take everyday knock's and bump's or have you got them on a back panel that is not seen in the pictures ?:unsure:
Not doubting your skills and knowledge which far surpass my meager efforts , The last time i cut a burl it was quite fragile despite being over 15mm thick , i gave it a accidental knock with spirit level and although it did not break there was some places where you could see where it was going to if another bump followed.
 

Sawdust=manglitter

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Thanks for the kind comments.

Great stuff , the work in the hinges alone is well worth the effort they look awesome.
The Burr panels at 10mm sound plenty thick enough ,but how will they take everyday knock's and bump's or have you got them on a back panel that is not seen in the pictures ?:unsure:
Not doubting your skills and knowledge which far surpass my meager efforts , The last time i cut a burl it was quite fragile despite being over 15mm thick , i gave it a accidental knock with spirit level and although it did not break there was some places where you could see where it was going to if another bump followed.

Maybe I got very lucky, or maybe it was my very slow progress allowing slow acclimatisation, but the burr panels are absolutely solid!! I even tired bending the panels by hand and it didn’t even bend much. It’s surprisingly dense. So i’m confident that they’ll last my lifetime (assuming no catastrophic accident during a house move)
 

Fitzroy

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Fab! Nothing wrong with a long project, but lots wrong with that car loading!
 

OBr

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The mortice and tenons are cut and the door frames are cut and dry fit together with the burr panels in place.

View attachment 106879

and following glue up, this is one of the doors with the long strips of African Blackwood to frame the burr

View attachment 106880

Now coming to the hinges. I decided to give it a go making wooden hinges, but after much contemplation and making a mock-up out of ash i wanted to avoid any possible squeaking and try to minimise any wear of wood to wood rubbing surfaces, so the only thing i could think of was to use bronze bushings, which not only make a much smoother motion but the bronze bushings are the only moving faces that are in contact. So fingers crossed they will last many more decades than just wood on wood hinges.

View attachment 106881

View attachment 106882

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The hinges will be mortices into both the carcass and the doors. Following further shaping, lots of hand sanding, and buffing...

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View attachment 106888
This is awesome. You must be really happy with the outcome.
 

Chippysu

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So far, i’ve morticed the hinges into the carcass, but have yet to mortice them into the doors. Note that the steel sticking out the bottoms are purposely too long before permanent fitting. One side has an exposed hole which will have an african blackwood plug glued in place. Note that the hinges probably took around 4 days work to get them to this point! A lot of work, but i’ve very happy with them.

View attachment 106892

View attachment 106893

View attachment 106890

View attachment 106891

For the next step i’ve got the doors shimmed in place to get the exact placement of the hinges.

View attachment 106897

View attachment 106898

View attachment 106896

This is currently where i’m up to so far. Lots more to do though :D
Looking great. I can see the extra piece on the hinge back to mortice in but how did you actually fix in place, just glue? Certainly a labour of love.
 

Sawdust=manglitter

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Looking great. I can see the extra piece on the hinge back to mortice in but how did you actually fix in place, just glue? Certainly a labour of love.

Well spotted, an astute observation. So the hinges are already mortified into the carcass leg, but not yet into the doors - that’s next!

As you’ve already said this is a labour of love, so I agonise and over analyse the decisions I make on this, and being a structural engineer probably makes that worse too... The doors are pretty heavy with a 1” thick frame and the solid burr panel being pretty dense and i’m worried about the top hinge in particular pulling out, particularly when the door is in an open position, so as well as glueing in the carcasses hinge mortice i’ve decided to screw it in from the back so the screws will be completely hidden. I’ve not decided yet whether to do the same to the door side or not, as in theory the hinge mortice would only be under shear force rather than any pullout, so i’ll see what it’s like when dry fit into the door mortice once they’re cut.
 

Chippysu

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Well spotted, an astute observation. So the hinges are already mortified into the carcass leg, but not yet into the doors - that’s next!

As you’ve already said this is a labour of love, so I agonise and over analyse the decisions I make on this, and being a structural engineer probably makes that worse too... The doors are pretty heavy with a 1” thick frame and the solid burr panel being pretty dense and i’m worried about the top hinge in particular pulling out, particularly when the door is in an open position, so as well as glueing in the carcasses hinge mortice i’ve decided to screw it in from the back so the screws will be completely hidden. I’ve not decided yet whether to do the same to the door side or not, as in theory the hinge mortice would only be under shear force rather than any pullout, so i’ll see what it’s like when dry fit into the door mortice once they’re cut.
I was wondering if you were going to use a mechanical fixing too, if you're thinking that wise but prefer it not to show and bit awkward as the normal would be through thin into thick stock, but I did this once. I took a nail, deheaded it drilled pilot holes & glued it in, extra bit of hold. You could of course use a long shanked wood screw, wind the thread in & the deheaded shank could be glued in. Of course precision of the pilot holes is a challenge! I also keep the cut offs from pop rivets for future 'maybes'.
 
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