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Ain’t No Feathers Around Here Boys...
‘Ain’t No Feathers Around Here Boys…’

November 25, 2009

The following shots never made it into the book due to space limitations but were shot during those same few days last winter while I worked this beautiful walnut into shape. Small cabinets such as this are meant to be unique and I would never consider building two the same.

The planning stages, the walnut lies waiting while the ideas are still floating…

I welcome your comments and hope you adapt this simple form into a piece you too can truly call your own. Door styles and interior drawer configuration alone can change the overall feel of a piece.

I recently finished another small cabinet with outside dimensions very close to this one but changing the wood species, door style and interior gives it a completely different aesthetic appeal. I’m including a couple of shots of the new cabinet here so you can see what a few simple changes in design can do to make a similar piece seem very different.

A small piece such as this demands attention to wood selection. You can also clearly see the shallow rabbet across the end grain used to help accurately register the tails over. This is the ‘140 trick’.

My No. 4 Smoothing plane draws out the wonderful, yet subtle figure of the walnut.


Sawing dovetails – notice the dado already ploughed into the back edge of the cabinet sides.


A fret saw removes the bulk of the waste between.

Even after sawing thousands of dovetails, I still take the time to scribble in the waste with some pencil lines. This helps to prevent cutting down the wrong side of the scribe line.

Transferring the tails onto the pin board.


The waste is carefully chopped away with a Japanese style chisel.


Considering the interior arrangements.

Re-sawing purple heart for the lower drawer front is not for the faint of heart!


The photo above shows the finished interior.


Secret compartment accessed from the rear.

Here’s another detail that didn’t make it into the book: the lower drawer has a false bottom and a secret compartment accessed from the rear. A fun little feature my  5-year old son Nelson really enjoys.

When laying out the grooves for the drawer bottom panel I simply ploughed out a second about 3/4″ of an inch above the first.

The following two photos are another small cabinet built almost a year later…a Christmas gift- 2009.
These two cabinets are very close in size but are very different in ‘feel’.

Quarter sawn white oak with walnut accents.

The doors are frame and panel construction with hand made Japanese paper panels.  ‘Sticks’ within the door panels are a deliberate reflection of the book cabinet in Project 4.

Two tiny dovetailed drawers in walnut and poplar. The drawer pulls are cherry.

Ironically enough, the walnut used in these two drawer fronts a year later are off cuts from the original cabinet.

Do these drawers have any secret compartments?
If I told you then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore, would it?

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