Byrdcliffe Cabinet, Part 2

My variation of the Byrdcliffe cabinet is progressing along nicely.

If you didn’t read my previous post, I wanted to build a duplicate of a small wall cabinet that was made at the Byrdcliffe Art Community in the early 1900’s.  Since our guest room has several Mission-style pieces of furniture already I decided to make a Mission-inspired variation of the same cabinet.  I chose quarter-sawn white oak for the wood, and started by truing it all up and mocking up that case.

Lumber for case dimensioned and mocked up

Lumber for case dimensioned and mocked up

Once I had the sides, top and bottom thicknessed and cut to length accurately I started cutting dados and rabbets.  This is a pretty straightforward project, no fancy joinery anywhere – although that didn’t keep me from making a mistake.  I cut the rabbet for the back deeper than rabbets on the sides – so I would have more “purchase” to screw the ship-lapped back in place.  Of course that means I now have a gap I’ll have to plug later.  Rats.

One of the things that I’ve had trouble with on previous project is getting shelf dados aligned on opposite sides.  If two sides are the same height it’s not a problem of course, but in this case the two sides are different heights so I can’t just gauge off the end of the board.  Instead I mocked up the case, and used a spacer block to knife in the location for the dado, this seemed to work really well.

Using a spacer block to lay out the shelf dado

Using a spacer block to lay out the shelf dado

Once I had all of the parts cut and joinery prepared I did a final dry fit.

Dry Fit

Dry Fit

After the dry fit I hand planed all of the interior surfaces and edges, sanded with 220/320 and wet the wood to raise the grain.  A final scuff sand with 400 and I was ready to glue up.  I’m using “Old Brown Glue”, which is pre-mixed hyde glue.  I choose this because I didn’t want to worry about squeeze out messing with the finish.

I spread the glue and commenced the struggle with balancing clamps, parts sliding around, glue dripping onto my pristine surfaces and sticky hands.  In the end I was able to wrestle it into submission.  I have to add the shelf still, I’ll do that tomorrow after this stage has cured overnight.  I’m also going to pin the ends with Walnut Miller Dowels, if they ever arrive.

Glued Up

Glued Up

I have the slats for the back already made, so my next step is to start on the door.  The article that Christopher Schwarz wrote on re-creating this cabinet calls for stub tenons and a lightweight frame-and-panel door.  In the original the door had a carved panel, in Chris’ variation he substituted a scroll-sawn rendition of the same design as the original.

Since I’m doing a Mission re-interpretation of this piece, a carved Lilly doesn’t fit aesthetically.  Instead I’m going to make a stained glass panel for it.  That means I need a slightly different approach on making the door, probably mortise and tenon construction with a rabbet instead of a groove.  Time to sketch that out before I ruin any wood.


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4 thoughts on “Byrdcliffe Cabinet, Part 2

  1. José Santiago

    You never can have enough clamps. It’s looking good. I am looking forward to the glass panel. How are you planning to finish?

  2. Thanks Jose. I leaning toward a combination of dye, stain, shellac and brown wax. I’ve seen several articles on using water based dye and stain together to get an “authentic” mission finish, for example

    I want the medium brown color, not too dark, and certainly not “golden oak”. The wood has some nice ray flecks, I want to make sure those “pop”.

    I have a funny story about the design for the glass, I’ll have to write that up tomorrow.

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