Monday, March 19, 2018

Pilot ladder cabinet 5, a minor discovery.

When I left yesterday, the two larger panels were reasonably flat, and just needed to get their edges thinned, so that they would fit in the grooves.
A bit like my earlier experiences with pilot ladder wood, those had warped a bit too. I am not sure how dry the wood is, but at some point it will hopefully stop moving around.

No need to worry though, a bit of work with the scrub plane, and the panels were able to get into the grooves.

Contrary to my normal work habits, I performed a full dry assembly of the back panel, to see that all would go together as planned. - And it did.

I planned the sequence of my glue up, made sure to orient the pieces correctly, and even I will have to admit that it actually help in achieving a stress free glue up.
The diagonals confirmed that the assembly was as square as could be expected, and I applied all our clamps to the bridle joints and left it to dry.

While the panel was drying I sorted out the panels to find the best looking ones for the carcase and the door.
I ripped them to a similar width and tried to plane them too, I managed to make them tapering in that process, but jointing and straightening long pieces is not easy with a smoothing plane.
It isn't much, and I'll just use my regular trick of keeping one side as the reference side - and then later plane the other side flat after assembly. It is how I usually do out here because my stock preparation is never really spot on; due to materials, tools, workholding and other excuses (I suck at manual stock preparation).

My idea was to crosscut the parts to length, and then maybe plane a small rabbet on the inside of the back, to accommodate the back panel.
I placed one of the short boards on top of the back panel, to assure myself of that I could remove close to 2".
At this point I could hardly believe what I had discovered:
I couldn't even remove 1/16"!
In fact somehow the back panel was 2" wider than it was supposed to be.
The length was correct, but I was a bit puzzled to say the least. I mean how could it have happened. I had marked everything out, and even used a marking knife.

I have to admit, that I never measured the assembly while it was dry. But if I had done so, I would most likely have discovered that I had made all the joints for the width of the panel so that what should have become the outside of the joint was "suddenly" the inside. Alas the width of the panel was increased by exactly the width of my two stiles.
The only place that I had noticed something a bit irregular was on one of the top corners, where the outside wasn't quite flush. I never thought much about it but blamed my sawing technique.

In hindsight, I should have crosscut the rails to the correct length first, and then made the joints, but I decided that being such a "pro" there was no need to do that, I could just saw of the protruding ends once I had assembled it all. And since I didn't want to make a deep open mortise in one end, i had just sort of centered the rails, so I had to remove an equal amount in both ends. It all looked fine to me during the build.

But if there can be any sort of wisdom hidden in this discovery, it have to be that accurate measuring doesn't mean much if you saw/cut on the wrong side of that line. And never bother to check the measurements before applying glue.

I still think that I will be able to save the build, but somehow it is not getting easier.
And now my idea of trying to use the golden section as overall dimensions is effectively shot down too.
Hopefully tomorrow it will all be better!

Glue up.


  1. It sounds like you have some careful planning to do. If your stock isn't long enough to make the new, bigger cabinet, it might be best to take your back panel apart and make it smaller. It will feel like you have wasted some time, but in the end it will look good. And you can say you practiced your bridle joints before doing them for real.

    Good luck!

    1. Hi Brian

      I just started taking the panel apart. I actually never thought about doing that. But I agree that it is a better solution than pushing the problems ahead of me.

    2. I have to say I was sort of hoping you wouldn't I would love to see how you would make your boards longer.


    3. Hahaha, I would just make the rabbet a bit deeper, and then use the short boards in their full length.

  2. But the panel looks really good! Reminds of an engineering saying I heard long ago, "poorly planned projects take twice as long to complete as planned. Well planned projects take three times as long."

    1. Hi Jeff

      Thanks for the nice words on the panel.
      I really like your engineering saying!
      That is so true :-)