Sunday, March 25, 2018

Pilot ladder cabinet 7, face frame and dadoes

Yesterday I planed the individual strips of wood that was going to form the face frame.
I spent some time deciding what type of joinery I should use. The choices were: bridle joints, half lap joints or mortise & tenon joints.
After weighing the options against each other, mortise and tenons came out on top. I think they will end up looking the best, since the cabinet will not be painted., so these offer the least amount of end grain to be seen. Only the ends of the stiles will have visible end grain, and that will be OK.

After measuring the carcase, I laid out all the joints on the parts for the face frame. I decided to allow myself approximately 1/16" overall, so I wouldn't end up with a face frame that was smaller than the carcase itself.

The tenons were sawed using a hacksaw, and the mortises were chopped out using my 3/8" chisel. It is not a mortising chisel, but if you go slow and don't use the chisel as a crowbar for levering out the wast, it is no problem for me at least - to turn out an acceptable mortise with it.

I really tried to take my time and work accurate, and mysteriously it helped. 6 of the joints were really nice and tight, and only one of them was a bit loose.

When I laid out the joints, I had tried to make sure that all the inaccuracies in thickness would be on the same side, and it went pretty well. The one side is near flat with only a minor deviation in one joint. The other side is not flat, but since it will be the outside, I can level it out after gluing the face frame to the carcase.

With the face frame complete, I could measure directly of it, to make sure that the division between the drawer part and the cabinet part would end up where it should: Behind the middle rail of the frame.
The location for that dado was laid out, and it was then used for determining the location of the other dado. That will eventually house a shelf that will divide the cabinet into two.

My usual method for making dadoes is to clamp down a batten next to the line, and use it to guide the saw. When both sides of the dado has been sawed, I remove the waste with a chisel and follow up with a router plane.
I deliberately made the dadoes a bit narrower than the partitions, so I can make a nice tight fit for them by planing the underside of them a bit thinner, just like I did on the floating panels for the back of the cabinet.
Mock up with the parts.

Mortises and short tenons.

Face frame glued up.

Setup for making a dado.


  1. Your comment from last time and this post make it clear now why you wait to make the dado, thanks. I'm going to follow your example and start undersizing dadoes a bit. Mine tend to come out too big cutting them with a saw. Do you offset the batten a little to allow for the set of the teeth?

  2. Hi Jeff.

    I try to keep the batten on the outside of the dado, so the width of the kerf is not really a problem. There is also very little set on this small Japanese saw.
    A dado that is a bit on the loose side isn't that big a problem, since a almost all my homemade wide glued up panels tend to cup a bit. (I think it is due to not perfectly dry wood and also using pallet grade stock).
    But because of the cup it will still remain fairly fixed in the dado - even without glue.

    Regarding my comment yesterday, I just re-read it and I can see that I missed a bit of information:
    I wouldn't be able to use this method, if the back was going to be any sort of back that was inserted in a groove during the glue up. Such as a floating panel back, T&G boards with a tongue on either and and on the outsides too.
    As long as the carcase is open front and back, this method can be used.


  3. This is really starting to look awesome. Impressive as usual

    Bob, scratching Rudy’s ears

    1. Hi Bob

      Thanks for the nice comment.
      I just planed the shelves and glued on the face frame. I aim for a bit of progress every day.
      I am not convinced if I'll be able to complete it before going home. But I'll try my best.

      Jonas (who will be scratching Bertha's ears in 8 or 9 days time).