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A Moroubian Tool Cabinet, Part 2

I have to tell you there are some super exciting things going on at Jeff Branch Woodworking. So exciting that my workshop has been neglected. I have two woodworking plans underway with one being for a nationally known woodworker. And there is an additional thing in the works which may mean that I will build a second Moroubian workbench. Cool stuff for sure and again, EXCITING.

Most recently, I have been back in my workshop making definite progress on the Moroubian tool cabinet. I am building drawers (there will be 12 of them) and after some considerable thought, I zeroed in on the joinery for the drawers which will be simple yet durable. Simple and durable = good.

I recently purchased a Katz-Moses dovetail guide which means I am looking for a project to try out this accessory; but it won’t be with my Moroubian tool cabinet. But I did give hand cut dovetails serious consideration.

Years ago, I upgraded my master bath cabinets. I re-built the doors and drawers and added bracket feet to the existing cabinet. For the drawers I used a super simple rabbet joint (not sure what this joint is officially known as, but I’m calling it a rabbet drawer joint).

This is where I create a rabbet on the front and back of the drawer box and then create a corresponding dado in the drawer sides. I then cut a rabbet along the bottom edge of the sides and front/back parts to accept the drawer bottom. Dead simple and based on the performance of my now really old master bath drawers, this joinery works very well. For my workbench tool cabinet, the joinery looks like this…

Simple but effective drawer joinery.

To get a super snug fit at each joint, I am using a new accessory, my Kreg Precision Miter Gauge System (system? Marketing gone wild?). Take a look…

The Kreg Precision Miter Gauge is just that; precise.

I have not made any angled cuts yet.

My table saw is a Jet 10″ contractor saw which at the time of purchase, had received glowing reviews by Fine Woodworking. Good saw, but the miter gauge was a fussy contraption and something I should have replaced long ago. I can be a stubborn woodworker and my recommendation is for you to not be like me. Upgrade your miter gauge if need be; you will be glad you did.

The best thing I like about this new miter gauge is the tape measure and stop. These allow me to zero in on an accurate cut and then pretty much lock the board in place for cutting. Boards can slide left to right when being pushed by a miter gauge. The Kreg Precision Miter Gauge helps me maintain control while cutting.

Six drawer boxes glued up.

I have been putting some of the features of my new workbench to use with this project. I used my hold fast to keep parts from moving while trimming with my block plane. And after adding the drawer bottoms (1/4″ plywood), I used the front vise to hold each drawer for some touch up again with my block plane.

A long travel vise is nice to have.

Joinery close-up; looking good.

Currently.

I have six of twelve drawer boxes finished; I’ll go ahead and mount the drawers to the cabinet. I have purchased some quarter-sawn white oak which will be used to face the drawer boxes and will ultimately be colored the same as the front/rear stretchers. These need to planed to thickness, cut to fit and then mounted to the drawer boxes. And then I’ll do this all over for the six drawers on the back of my Moroubian Tool Cabinet. So, still a lot to do before this project is complete.

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Have a question or comment about this post? Leave me a comment below; but I also like email. Use my contact form to send me an email (click here).

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Reader Builds the Jackson Dresser

I’m not sure how prolific a woodworker Scott M. of Wyoming is. I’m not sure if he lays awake at night and thinks of the next step in that woodworking project in the workshop (like many of us do). I have no idea how many woodworking magazines he subscribes to or how many woodworking books sit in his bookcase. I suspect he’s pretty serious though because he just finished the dresser featured in my Jackson Dresser woodworking plan; a significant project and he did a mighty fine job with it.

The Jackson Dresser is not a beginner piece. The size alone can be challenging and there are two large raised panels to make, bracket feet to cut and a sizable top to make. To me, all of these steps takes extra skill (and tools) to pull off well and as I say, photos don’t lie. Scott’s photos show excellent work…

The case coming together. Alder is the wood.

Layout of the face frame.

Molding for the base being fitted.

The finished dresser.

So to Scott; a job well done and if you would like to examine the Jackson Dresser woodworking plan, you can see it here for free (an instant download even), and the SketchUp model is here. My fourteen other woodworking plans can be seen here. They are free too. If you build something from one of my plans, I’ll be glad to show your finished work and photos of the construction process. Just use my contact page.

Now, all of this makes me want to get into my workshop and make some sawdust.

BONUS: See my article on adding realistic materials to your SketchUp models by clicking here.

Designing Furniture In SketchUp

I was leading a workshop on SketchUp at the Alabama Woodworkers Guild and talking about a model I created from a photo. One of the guys spoke up and said, “You did that just from a photo?” This lead to a few questions about how to actually design in SketchUp with minimal initial information. Recently, I received a request from a woodworker to design a dining room sideboard, again with only a little information and I thought I’d document my process.

Two Photos

This design started as a conversation over dinner. I met with a woodworker from Huntsville, Alabama and he surprised me with a request to design a sideboard. He had seen a design I had developed and posted at my Instagram account. Then, there was a photo he and his wife liked. The two images…

Something I call the Telluride Dresser

Matt Cremona’s Shaker Sideboard

Matt’s Shaker Sideboard was what they liked the most, but they liked the middle drawer arrangement of my Telluride Dresser design possibly flanked by a door on each side. Right away, I began putting together a design which had short legs and a broad curve along the front base. At the same time, I began searching for some ideas online. I first wanted to see what came up in a Google image search for sideboards mainly to see what had already been created (so I could do something different). And I looked at an article from Fine Woodworking which is basically a guide on how to combine colors from various woods in a pleasing way. I also had the basic dimensions of what size the sideboard needed to be. With some ideas floating around in my head, I fired up SketchUp.

The sideboard’s basic shape.

I did take time to confirm a few ideas with the client especially the height of the sideboard. When starting a design I’ll look at furniture store websites to see what appears to be standard sizes for furniture. For sideboards, the height can vary a lot; like 34-36″ or sometimes much taller approaching 50″ tall. The client chose 36″ tall but gave me some design flexibility.

With the basic shape worked out, I always develop a box to give me the maximum dimensions (shown above). I could then begin working out the leg size (not too bulky, but not too skinny). I also immediately wanted to add a contrasting wood as an accent. This is what I quickly came up with…

The initial sideboard in cherry.

Front view.

As I design, I’ll have a ruler and tape measure with me and I’ll look at potential dimensions in real life to see what looks good. The legs ended up being 2-1/8″ square and have an accent just above the point where the taper begins. The side panel layout is similar to one I used on a bench style bookcase I made for my daughter. I added the same accent wood to the side panels, which meant I would also need to add the accent to the panelled doors. I normally use graduated drawers in my designs, but since this sideboard needed to have a Shaker feel, I went with three drawers of the same size. The door and drawer knobs are shaker, but they are colored the same as the accent wood.

In an effort to make the visual easy to pull off, I used the standard SketchUp cherry material. At present, none of the interior structure has been drawn.

Changes and the Final Design

After I presented images of this design to the client, I thought to ask: “What wood will you be using?” The reply: “Walnut and poplar.” This would have been a good question early on because being the perfectionist that I am, I had to apply a walnut material to all the components covering up the cherry. The clients were loving this design, but I still needed to work out the interior parts like drawer structure and the cabinet space and shelf location behind the drawers.

Usually, I’ll draw a design full size, but I didn’t do the full size illustration with this sideboard because I now had set overall dimensions with the client. After I got the design worked out (with all the interior structure drawn), I decided the front lower rail was too thick, so I raised the arch slightly, and in a major change I made the tapered legs longer and moved the lower rail up one inch. The sideboard looked too much like this; a lot of mass, but with short legs. This change gave the sideboard a much-needed lift, but just about every component had to be modified in some way. A royal pain in the *@#$. And, this new size meant that the available space for the stack of drawers did not divide easily by three. The resulting drawer height would end in some odd and tiny fraction. So, I had to then raise the height of the sideboard slightly to accommodate the drawer shape. Another slight change: I added a subtle curve to the ends of the table top (pulled this idea from my Modern Kitchen Cabinet).

All of this together adds up to a modern take on Shaker furniture, and I see just a little Stickley in the design. In the end, I think the design is good and the clients were very happy with the result which looks like this…

The final design front view.

Note the curved ends to the table top.

Showing the interior structure.

I even added pocket hole joinery with screws!

Conclusion

Once you have a basic structure to work from, designing furniture in SketchUp provides a way to accurately visualize what the project will ultimately look like. Joinery options can be discussed as well as fully detailed in the model. And the image output from SketchUp allows for easy documentation to share in a presentation.

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Have a question or comment about this post? Leave me a comment below; but I also like email. Use my contact form to send me an email (click here).